A friend of mine recently posted on FB about prostitution. His post was on 10 Things You Might Not Know About Women Being Sold For Sex. It’s a great informative list and I highly urge you to click on the link and take a look. There was also an accompanying list of 10 Things You Might Not Know About Men Who Buy Sex. As I was reading the article my buddy posted, I started seeing comments pop up. One that stuck out was a question about whether legalizing prostitution would help mitigate the human trafficking issues and harm done to the women and men involved as prostitutes. It’s a quandary since it does not seem prostitution is going away any time soon so how do you protect the sex workers in today’s environment?
Human trafficking is the 2nd largest illegal trade in the world right behind the drug trade. It is a billion dollar industry and works in a clandestine way, so hard data and information on the number of people harmed by this trade are hard to come by. There are those who propose that legalization of prostitution would somehow mitigate the flow of human trafficking or at least help to protect current sex workers. I’m all for protecting the current sex workers. They face great harm everyday and anything that could help them would surely be appreciated. However, there is a greater issue to deal with.
The scale issue vs substitution issue.
The substitution theory is that with legalized prostitution demand for illegal trafficked humans will defer to those who are legally licensed. This is an ideal theory, but most data points to the contrary that legalized prostitution actually creates an economic scale effect. Countries with legalized prostitution have a higher rate of human trafficking expansion to meet the growing legal demand. The argumentative issue is that this is refutable evidence because hard data is so hard to come by, but from current available data this is what legalization seems to point to. Here is a great paper written on the subject: Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?
Prostitution is considered the oldest profession in the world. It is openly derided by society but in the hidden social psyche it is actually tolerated and accepted. This is what really needs to be addressed. Just because the profession has become a mainstay doesn’t make it acceptable at a human compassion level. The vast majority of sex workers are involuntary and coerced or abducted into the trade. They are essentially human slaves. If you ever hear a prostitute tell you that they are ok with their work, don’t believe it. Prostitutes have an incredibly high suicide rate along with accompanying PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome). They are under constant threat of violence and rape.
What needs to happen is not more legislative wrangling, but a change in will and conscience in society. Human trafficking and prostitution is not acceptable in the grand scheme of human compassion and needs to be fought on a personal and world level. Change can happen, but this type of change will take the will of us all.
– Strong Rabbit