Legalizing prostitution not right by any means

September 16, 2010 — by Jackie Gu

“The world’s oldest profession.” This ancient saying stirs up a lot of historical dispute, but the euphemism for prostitution is not without ground. Stretching through almost all recorded history, prostitution has thrived as one of the most rampant practices to infect human civilization, both ancient and modern.

In contemporary America, prostitution had prospered in the “Adult Services” listing on Craigslist for years before the listing was finally eliminated with a “censored” label on Sept. 3. The response to this action is widely mixed: some argue that prostitution should be legal, while others disagree. Should it be legalized? Is it truly a victimless crime?

At first glance, the legalization of prostitution would seem to promote women’s rights—it is, after all, their right to do what they want with their bodies. It may also seem that because prostitution is a consensual act between adults, it is indeed a victimless crime, perhaps not even a crime at all. Yet how often, exactly, do women actually want to become prostitutes? And how consensual can the practice of selling one’s body possibly be?

Prostitution is often portrayed as a career women freely choose, as an exciting alternative to unsatisfying jobs or even as a form of sexual liberation. Reality is a sharp contrast to this glamorized picture: Prostitutes are not prostitutes because they wish to be; they are almost always forced into the situation by sex trafficking groups or abject circumstances in their lives. Legalization would only steepen the slippery slope that has been greased by millennia of practice, sending more and more women down the distressing path.

After being forced into the industry, women become susceptible to a host of other elements (including drug addiction, STDs, and sex trafficking) that spiral them deeper and trap them in the dangerous Mobius strip of prostitution. Prostitution legalization would breed such hopeless situations, perhaps even making them commonplace.

One of the major reasons prostitution is still so alive in America is online marketing on sites like Craigslist, which was a central forum for prostitution rings for years despite constant fire from legal attorneys. Yet the black “CENSORED” label recently slapped over the “Adult Services” link seems more defiant than submissive—Craigslist doesn’t appear to be willing to just drop one of its most popular forums.

Those opposed to Craiglist’s censorship argue that prostitution legalization would protect the women rather than harm them: If it were legal, the industry could be properly controlled by the government instead of run by illegal rings as it is now. Contrary to these claims, though, legalizing prostitution would only succeed in expanding the sex industry and spinning it even further out of control.

The Netherlands, for example, legalized prostitution in 2000. Subsequently, the sex industry bloated by at least 25 percent. After legalization, the percentage of foreign prostitutes in Amsterdam skyrocketed from 5 percent to 80; furthermore, 70 percent of foreigners have no immigration papers, suggesting a huge expansion in the human trafficking industry.

After years of fearing they were losing control of the business, former Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen announced plans in 2008 to close half the city’s brothels due to suspected criminal activity centered around the sex industry. If prostitution were legalized in America, it’s likely the country would face consequences similar to that of the Netherlands’ despite intentions to protect women.

It should be noted that prostitution is directly linked to other crimes such as drug dealing, homicide and property crimes. In legalizing prostitution, the rates of these other crimes are likely to jump significantly.

Whatever speculated benefits of prostitution legalization are vastly outweighed by its repercussions. It’s about time Craigslist started cracking down on sex ads to prevent underground prostitution rings from swelling to uncontrollable heights. While prostitution may never be fully extinguished in America, legalizing it would only propel our country in the opposite direction of progress.

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