The Gustavian Weekly

Legalize Sex Work

By Megan Bertrand - Opinion Columnist | April 22, 2016 | Opinion

The fight over the legalization of prostitution has been going on for years. The federal government believes that legalizing prostitution is not only immoral, it “contributes to the modern-day slave trade, and creates a higher demand for human trafficking victims.”

However, not all states follow this line of reasoning.  In Nevada,  prostitution is legal in eight counties, and twenty-eight counties that have legal brothels.

Being an escort in all fifty states is completely legal, and women accept money from their clients for services performed. However, federal law states that accepting money for sex is completely illegal.

The only difference between being an escort and being a prostitute is that an escort makes hundreds of dollars more than a prostitute and it is generally safer. I argue that both jobs are the exact same thing. Both jobs are sex work and ought to be recognized and protected by the government.

Prostitution should be legalized for many compelling reasons. It is a woman’s choice how she uses her body, and perhaps sex work is her best source of income.

I believe that prostitution can be considered physical labor, and if stripping is legal, then other forms of sex work should be legalized. Furthermore, by legalizing and regulating sex work, we can make the streets safer, and cut down on human trafficking, which is human exploitation for sexual services.

Prostitution is the provision of sexual services for negotiated payments between two consenting adults. If companies can make employees sign contracts for goods and services rendered, why can’t there be a similar concept for the idea of sex?

No person’s human or civil rights should be violated or judged on the basis of their occupation, profession, or work. If women or men want to engage in sex work, then they should be able to do so in a safe environment.

Though not always a preferred profession, stripping and exotic dancing are completely legal occupations.  There are rules and protections to ensure the safety of these workers. For instance, guards are often utilized both outside and inside clubs to protect the dancers from customers who become inappropriate.

Employers don’t give out workers’ information, and refrain from using their real names. Due to the sexual nature of this line of work, it is conceivable that other forms of sex work, such as prostitution, should also be legalized.   

However, many people argue that prostitution and sex work is a very unsafe business. A major concern is the spread of STIs and unplanned pregnancies. Fortunately, free condoms and other forms of birth control, as well as treatment   prevents certain diseases and unplanned pregnancies.

A second concern is that sex workers are unsafe under the control of pimps. Perhaps pimps could be eliminated by having the  sex industry under the employment/business labor law, and even give them their own labor union, creating more benefits and protections. Such as healthcare, better payment options, the ability to file restraining orders, and the ability to pick their own clients.

We could have the sex workers get licensed, and have them follow regulations like any privately-owned  business. All self-employed prostitutes should be registered and the  federal government should make the act of soliciting for illegal prostitution an offense. The owners  and employers of brothels should be subjected to extensive background checks.

I advocate for  the making of “red boxes,” meaning if sex workers feel unsafe in their profession, they wish to report abuse, or just need to get away from their “pimp,” then they should be able to run to these places, and claim sanctuary and have a safe place to go.

If women and men are working in safer conditions, and with employers who will keep them safe, it will cut down on street violence, abuse, and rape, contributing to the increased safety of sex workers. Many people work in this line of business to keep their families fed, or because they feel they have no other option.

I feel that if more sex work were legalized, then more people would feel comfortable going into brothels, or other businesses that offer these sort of services. This could effectively cut down on street crime, rape, abuse, and murder on the streets.