Social Problems of Prostitution

This essay discusses the social issues relating to prostitution and proposes that prostitution should be legalised but regulated to reduce problems and harms of prostitution to both the society and prostitutes (my goals). My proposed regulatory rules (my framework) aimed at achieving the said goals are discussed. This essay will conclude that although my framework has its limitations, it is effective in achieving the said goals. Social Problems of Prostitution "Prostitution" is the practice of engaging in sexual activity with someone in return for payment1.

Prostitution has been described as "the choice made by those who have no choice"2. Prostitutes are more likely to be women disadvantaged by poverty, poor or no education, sex and race discrimination, who have no other economic options; or childhood sexual abuse, with little opportunity for anything else3. A prostitute may engage as a stripper, escort, street-walking prostitutes, or as a sex worker in hotel, massage parlour or brothel. As the dominant prostitutes in the world are female, this essay will generalise that all prostitutes mentioned are female, whereas the clients or patrons are male.

There are many social problems of prostitution. Firstly, regardless of the sex work choices and physical location where prostitution takes place, violence and abuse against prostitutes are inevitable: verbal and physical sexual harassment, forced nudity, rape, assault, robbery, and depriving basic hygiene4. Victimisation by aggressive or sadistic customers is prostitutes' greatest fear. Prostitutes are perceived as sexual objects and their work as "paid rape"5.

Pimps dehumanise prostitutes for refusing to work long hours, refusal to serve certain customers, not generating sufficient income and attempting to leave the industry. Frequently pimps and even policemen demand sexual services from prostitutes and assault them if they resist their sexual harassment6. Prostitutes and their families are subject to further condemnation and threats from people who despise them. Research found that the death rate of women in prostitution is forty times higher than that of the general public members7.

These continuous tortures on women's body, coupled with verbal abuse, are causes of psychological harm and emotional distress on prostitutes8. Patrons may also risk themselves of abuses from pimps. Due to the social stigma attached to prostitution, if patrons are caught purchasing sex, they will be subject to public embarrassment and perhaps loss of job. More importantly, prostitution leads to higher possibility of marital breakdown and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases ("STD").

In a wider perspective, prostitutions can do great harm to the society. As an illustration, sights of scarcely or revealingly clothed women soliciting men in high streets or respectable areas of town, such as areas near to military bases, hotels, political or business conventions, churches, schools, or public or government buildings, would directly or indirectly affect the public as a whole 9. The sexual activity itself might take place in public or semi-public manner and used condoms and syringes are found littered on streets.

Furthermore prostitutes might solicit uninterested passers-by, and johns might pester women or teenage girls passing through the neighbourhood aggressively10. Tourism industry, hosting of large scaled events and other business arrangements will be affected as visitors and tourists who have no demand for prostitution services might find the condition offensive and thus avoid visiting the town11. Reputation/image? Another sociological objection to prostitution is that prostitution stimulates and feeds other criminal offences.

For instances, drug trafficking, drug use, burglary, organised crime, "pimping", assault and battery, theft, exploitation of children, and the trafficking of women12. In addition, prostitution has immoral influence over the society for it may reasonably lead to moral corruption of dependent persons, especially children13. In certain countries, most of the prostitutes are immigrants or they come from a certain race or ethnic group. For example, in the United States, the majority of sex workers, or more accurately the majority of those that were caught, are African American women.

Consequently most African American women are stigmatised as prostitutes and alienated from mainstream of society14. Prejudice and poverty of these women enable pimps to exploit their vulnerable economic and psychological situations and coerce them to enter and stay in the sex industry15. Feminists argue that the structure "which persecutes women prostitutes while ignoring the participation of men", aggravates the social and economic inequality that forces women into prostitution in the first place16.

My Proposed Regulatory rules (My Framework) And Their Strength Prostitution, described as the "oldest profession", has been embedded in every culture and is realistically ineradicable. Thus, my framework aims to control the prostitution industry and to minimise the internal and external harms associated with prostitution as much as possible. In order to achieve these goals, I propose that prostitution should be legalised but soliciting, pimping, trafficking, underage patrons and prostitutes are made illegal with heavy penalties imposed on the offenders.

I agree with Warnick that "many of the alleged harms about which prohibitionists complain are not a result of prostitution itself, but the effect that its continuing illegality generates"17. Anti-prostitution legal regime only gives prostitutes perverse incentive to resort to the black market for protection, since they cannot seek state protection or redress in law18. Prostitution exploits women not because the selling of sexual services is in itself exploitative, but because society degrades and marginalizes prostitutes and forces them into underground of continued abuse by pimps and customers19.

Where prostitution is illegal, prostitutes' reluctance to seek medical care creates a dangerous position for themselves and customers and becomes a potential threat to public health. This problem can be alleviated by legalisation20. Moreover, criminalisation has never significantly reduced the incidence of prostitution, it actually increases underground prostitution21. Without fear of criminal sanctions or public reprisal under my framework, prostitutes can collectively demand police protection and control over their working conditions22.

My framework is further regulated by zoning, age, healthcare and licensing requirements. A legal commercial sex sector could reduce street-walking prostitutes. Customers and sex workers could meet in safe environments, use of condom and health screening can be mandated to prevent STD infection23. Firstly, any commercial sex trade must take place in the designated zone or "red light district" in private areas identified by state and local authorities. Prostitution is tolerated within the designated area, but it would be an offence if traded outside the area24.

This approach ensures that the sex service trade or solicitation only take place away from respectable parts of town25. In Nevada, Australia, Netherlands and West Germany, such zoning regulation has proven effective in protecting the general public from exposure to prostitution26. Designating prostitution in red light district make enforcements, such as police patrols and investigations, easier and more effective. Also, brothels' appearance is severely restricted, such as limiting the types of signs they can display outside the establishments.

Advertising of any other kind is banned as well27. The justification for such rule is to … Secondly, the permitted age for a person to be prostitute and for a customer to purchase sex must be at least twenty-one years old. The reasoning behind this rule is so that any potential prostitutes would reach the level of maturity and make a rational choice when deciding whether to enter the sex industry. This would deter girls, especially those under-educated and unprivileged, from entering into the sex industry at a young age and be labelled as "prostitute" for the rest of their life.

Instead, it is hoped that they would work elsewhere which might change their paths in the future. Similarly, johns should not buy sex especially before attaining adulthood. Such practice is unhealthy for a growing teenager in his adolescence. If underage prostitutes or patrons are caught, they should be sent to rehabilitation centre and disciplined by community service work. If they violate the probation, they could face a 30-day jail sentence. This penalty is hoped to educate and rehabilitate teenagers to go back to the right track rather than to punish them.

Thirdly, as a regulated entity, all prostitutes must submit to a mandatory health-licensing and registration scheme that require prostitutes to undergo health check-ups and testing once every six months for evidence of STD28. It is recommended that the costs of the tests and purchase of condoms be the responsibility of each respective prostitute and brothel owner respectively29. Generally, these women would be willing to pay to undergo health check-ups and testing because it is their own bodies and it is crucial that they are free from diseases to remain in the industry.

Upon finding, as the result of medical screening, that any given prostitute is not infected with STD, and has attained the age of twenty-one, the respective prostitute will be granted a license to practice legal prostitution30. If prostitutes wish to change brothels, they have to reapply for a new license. If, at a later stage, a prostitute is found to have contracted STD, her license will be suspended resulting in a ban in the trade to prevent spread of STD.