Opinion: The merits of legalizing prostitution

POSTED: 03/28/12 11:17 AM

Prostitution is a subject that invokes a lot of emotion, mostly because many people take a moral stance on the world’s oldest profession. On Tuesday we delved into how the population feels about the matter, especially considering the horrors that young women in this industry have to go through and that Canada is having a discussion on what to do with an Ontario Appeals Court ruling that states that some of that country’s laws on prostitution are unconstitutional.
Of course prostitution is not legal here, but the government allows it, partially in the name of protecting local women and girls from the lust of men who come here to work. At least that was the reason given by the Lt. Governor in 1964 when he allowed the Seaman’s Club to open. The import of foreign labor has not only continued since then, but it has mushroomed. We’ve also seen more brothels since then as well. There is one major difference. The island’s population has grown and we think the need to protect women from the lust of men has fallen, but that’s for another day.
While we hear the moral perspective that a brothel could lead to issues with the family, it is not a logical argument in the discussion around legalizing prostitution. What we will admit is that this is a bit tricky. What one has to consider is whether or not a man’s visits to a prostitute lead to a violation of his children’s right? If that is the case then yes should be punished for that and there are sufficient legal means to punish a delinquent daddy – liens – outside of locking him up for visiting a prostitute.
Let us also understand that legalization will allow for the greater protection of the people who work in the industry. At the moment some women risk their very lives because there is no legal recognition for their profession. That means they will think many times over before reporting certain things because of a fear – whether it’s rightly placed or not. That fear will be based on the question of whether or not they will face punishment for their profession – which in real truth does not physically harm anyone. In fact we’ve seen more harm than good as our experts tell us that legalization allows governments to increase their controls on the sector and implement rules that will reduce the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
The argument that legalization will create a generation of young women who seek an easy dollar by prostituting themselves is also not a feasible argument, simply because it holds no water. There are countries, even this one, where sex is traded for money and/or things. Also when one looks at the rate at which women continue to advance and grab top positions like Prime Minister, President of Parliament, Director of the Bureau Telecommunications & Post, Director of the Princess Juliana International Airport, Director of the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau, president of a service club, it is highly doubtful that they will see prostitution as a first option and a reason to quit school. We contend instead that our women and girls are economically and mentally stronger than that.
Here’s a by the way. The argument that legalizing prostitution will lead to spike in crime is hogwash. We’d argue that it will lead to a decrease in crime, because as we’ve seen very recently brothel owners are grossly violating the rights of the young women who work with them and remain unchallenged. Actually putting laws in place will allow for more structure and better conditions. It will also mean that we have to spend less on criminal prosecutions and on putting people in prison for participating in the illicit sale of sex. Nothing is done in the darkness is ever done without high risk. So bringing prostitution into the light and under the microscope of regulations allows for better controls and a decrease in the violations and injustices that are currently being meted out to people trying to earn a living.
The key argument for legalizing prostitution though is that man comes into this world with the freedom to choose his own destiny. Why have laws that will attempt to rob people of an experience that they want to have? We think that just as long a person ensures that their choice does not encroach on someone else’s ability to live a fair and equitable live where they chart their destiny, then prostitution should be legal.
Here’s one last reason why making it legal may be a good idea. It could just possibly remove some of the glitz and glamour around the sex industry. Ask any John Doe and he’ll tell you that something regulated by government is just not fun anymore. The moment prostitution is legalized it loses the glare of the forbidden fruit and becomes an exercise in remembering what to do, and with whom and for how long.
Even beyond all of this one has to consider the rights issues involved. Think of the women who are forced to leave their homes, only to be locked up in a room that they are forced to pay for, using the very body that they are using to earn a salary. Under the present conditions brothel owners feel very little pinch and get away with some serious violations. Putting proper laws in place and then enforcing them through controls will put an end to that and finally the few young people who choose this career path to feel safer.
Legalizing prostitution also has a gain for the government as it creates additional revenue from wage, income and profit tax. Because much like people will need food and shelter, everyone wants a little sex sometimes. The money raised could even be pumped right back into campaigns that promote “healthier lifestyle choices” like getting married or being faithful to one partner.
The emotions are understandable but let’s also have some logic in the debate.

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