Why Should Sex Work Be Legalized

Take the case of Rhode Island. A loophole made sex work, practiced behind closed doors, legal between 2003 and 2009. Nevada only allows prostitution in licensed brothels that workers regularly test for sexually transmitted infections. While Love isn`t the first to observe that legal prostitution can be relatively safe, rural Nevada`s counties are the only place in America where the world`s oldest profession is officially licensed. The overwhelming majority of sex workers are unable or unwilling to work under the conditions created by legalization, including applying for licenses, registering with local sheriffs, and working in one of the few brothels in rural Nevada where workers are subject to the rules of their manager, district and state. Rigorously enforced policies prevent people from engaging in consensual prostitution outside of licensed brothels and led to 2,859 arrests in 2018.1 Sex work is illegal in much of the United States, but the debate over whether it should be decriminalized is intensifying. The debate is not new – and full of emotions. Opponents of decriminalization are an exploitative industry that preys on the weak. But many activists and academics argue that decriminalization would help protect sex workers and even be a public health benefit.

While Nevada brothels don`t pay state taxes, they pay „significant amounts of taxes“ to the rural counties where they do business, according to the New York Times. (Nevada Republicans blocked a plan a few years ago to subject brothels to state taxes because they didn`t want schools and other government services to be funded by sex work.) Here are five reasons to decriminalize sex work that would protect sex workers, help hold police accountable, and ensure equality for all members of society, including those who choose to make a living based on self-management of their own bodies. Protecting sex workers from police violence is just one reason we need to decriminalize sex work. It would also help sex workers access health care, reduce the risk of client violence, reduce mass incarceration, and promote equality in the LGBTQ community, especially for trans women of color, who are often profiled and harassed, whether we are actually sex workers or not. In 2020, the call for decriminalization has progressed, but there are still widespread misconceptions about sex work and sex workers holding us back. Some even believe that decriminalization would hurt sex workers. That`s not true. An arrest for sex work can have life-changing consequences that last long after a sentence has ended. A criminal record can prevent you from accessing specific identification, jobs, housing, health care and other services. It can also lead to the deportation of immigrants. Members of the trans community and sex workers already face discrimination in many of these systems.

A criminal record further marginalizes and stigmatizes being trans or engaging in sex work. Like the police, clients of sex workers can take advantage of a criminalized environment where sex workers must risk their own safety to avoid arrest. Clients know they can rob, attack or even murder a sex worker – and get away with it – because the sex worker does not have access to the same protections of the law. A study of prostitutes in San Francisco found that 82 percent had been attacked and 68 percent raped while working as prostitutes. Another study of Colorado Springs prostitutes found that they were 18 times more likely to be murdered than non-prostitutes of their age and race. Illegal street prostitutes could be pressured by pimps and clients to stop using condoms. But states that legalize prostitution can force sex workers to use condoms and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Decriminalisation or decriminalisation is the legal reclassification of certain acts or aspects thereof that are no longer considered a criminal offence, including the lifting of criminal sanctions concerning them. This reform is sometimes applied retroactively, but comes into force either when the law comes into force or from a certain date. In some cases, regulated permits or fines may still apply (in contrast, see: Legalization), and related aspects of the original criminal act may persist or be explicitly classified as a crime.

The term was coined by anthropologist Jennifer James to express the „goals of the sex worker movement to eliminate laws directed against prostitutes,“ although it is now commonly applied to drug policy. [1] The reverse process is criminalization. The desire to protect women from sexual abuse will always be valid, and if anything is a desire that should be more prevalent in the United States. What is dishonest is the rejection of legalized sex work on grounds that claim to be women`s safety, but actually stem from a place of discomfort towards women who openly engage in sexual interactions for financial gain. If you are not comfortable with the idea of women having sex for money, then you should also have a problem with pornography, exotic dances, and dating for money. If you don`t have a problem with all these socially accepted practices, but a problem with prostitution because it is „morally questionable,“ then you have lost your right to any forum where decisions about women`s safety and rights are made. If sex work were decriminalized, sex workers would no longer fear arrest if they sought justice, and the police would lose their power to use that fear to abuse people. The criminalization of sex work fuels the mass incarceration system by needlessly putting more people in prison. Inmates are typically trans and/or people of colour, two groups who are already disproportionately incarcerated. One in six trans people has been imprisoned, one in two trans people of color.

„Let`s face it,“ says Gentili, „for people like me, sex work is not `a` job option. That is the only option. Here are seven strong arguments for why the rest of the U.S. should allow people to sell sex in a well-regulated way, as they do in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and parts of Mexico, among others. Former sex worker Cecilia Gentili says she could have been released much sooner if she hadn`t faced legal consequences. She left her native Argentina because she was brutally harassed by the police in her small town. She thought she would be better off when she moved to New York, but as an undocumented transgender immigrant, she says, she had few options.