We have all been asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of us in our youth may have answered that we want to be a police officer or a doctor, but nobody ever answered that they want to grow up and prostitute themselves.
In the novel I am currently reading, Americanah by Adichie, the main character is forced to put herself in a potentially dangerous situation by performing sexual acts in order to afford food and rent expenses. The situation was emotionally scarring to the main character, and I thought to myself, “why would prostituting oneself ever be a criminal act in this country?” So, I am suggesting that prostituting oneself ought not be criminal and ultimately legalized.
Legalizing prostitution would protect women through regulation of the industry by government. This would include designated zones for brothels, health checks, required use of sexual protection, etc. In the status quo, women on the streets are sacrificing their safety for financial gain and this is not acceptable. To add to this, decriminalization of prostitution would not be doing enough because women’s safety is still at risk with a lack of regulation. Prostitutes would only be ensured that they will not be arrested.
Additional pros to legalized prostitution are increased tax revenue, reduced crime, and helping people out of poverty. Similar to situations in which cannabis has been legalized in certain US states, regulated prostitution would bring in lots of tax dollars. And of course, if sex work is being legalized, reduced crime rates and incarceration rates would follow suit. Finally, prostitution is often referred to as the world’s oldest profession for a reason. Unfortunately, it has been an unavoidable part of our various cultures for thousands of years, and owning that and legalizing sex work would provide an outlet for impoverished women to support themselves.