Prostitution law in the world
Prostitution law varies widely from country to country, and between jurisdictions within a country. Prostitution or sex work is legal in some parts of the world and regarded as a profession, while in other parts it is a crime punishable by death. In many jurisdictions prostitution is illegal. In other places prostitution itself (exchanging sex for money) is legal, but surrounding activities (such as soliciting in a public place, operating a brothel, and pimping) are illegal. In other jurisdictions prostitution is legal and regulated. In most jurisdictions which criminalize prostitution, the sex worker is the party subject to penalty, but in some jurisdictions it is the client who is subject to a penalty.
Prostitution has been condemned as a single form of human rights abuse, and an attack on the dignity and worth of human beings, while other schools of thought state that sex work is a legitimate occupation; whereby a person trades or exchanges sexual acts for money and/or goods. Some believe that women in developing countries are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and human trafficking, while others distinguish this practice from the global sex industry, in which “sex work is done by consenting adults, where the act of selling or buying sexual services is not a violation of human rights.” The term “sex work” is used interchangeably with “prostitution” in this article, in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO 2001; WHO 2005) and the United Nations (UN 2006; UNAIDS 2002).
Many people who support legal prostitution argue that prostitution is a consensual sex act between adults and a victimless crime, thus the government should not prohibit this practice.
Many anti-prostitution advocates hold that prostitutes themselves are often victims, arguing that prostitution is a practice which can lead to serious psychological and often physical long-term effects for the prostitutes. They may also argue that the act of prostitution is not by definition a fully consensual act, as they say that all prostitutes are “forced” to sell sex, either by somebody else or by the unfortunate circumstances of their lives (such as poverty, lack of opportunity, drug addiction, a history of childhood abuse or neglect, etc.).
In 1999, Sweden became the first country to make it illegal to pay for sex, but not to be a prostitute (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute). A similar law was passed in Norway and in Iceland (in 2009). As of 2012, the Republic of Ireland is considering a similar model to that of the Nordic countries (Denmark excluded).
Economic and health issues
It is argued that street prostitution is not victimless as it may damage the reputation and quality of life in the neighbourhood and diminish the value of property. Peter De Marneffe notes that many prostitutes have not finished school, affecting their ability to be able to have a career that they might have preferred. Therefore, prostitution also affects the application of their talent in other areas of the economy in which they can succeed. Maxwell (2000) and other researcher have found substantial evidence that there is strong co-occurrence between prostitution, drug use, drug selling, and involvement in non-drug crimes, particularly property crime. Because the activity is considered criminal in many jurisdictions, its substantial revenues are not contributing to the tax revenues of the state, and its workers are not routinely screened for sexually transmitted diseases which is dangerous in cultures favouring unprotected sex and leads to significant expenditure in the health services. According to the Estimates of the costs of crime in Australia, there is an “estimated $96 million loss of taxation revenue from undeclared earnings of prostitution”. On top of these physical issues, it is also argued that the there are psychological issues that prostitutes face from certain experiences and through the duration and/or repetition. Some go through experiences that may result “in lasting feelings of worthlessness, shame, and self‐hatred”. De Marneffe further argues that this may affect the prostitute’s ability to perform sexual acts for the purpose of building a trusting intimate relationship, which may be important for their partner. Because of the lack of a healthy relationship, it can lead to higher divorce rates and it can influence unhealthy relationship to their children, influencing their future relationships. Although this is more difficult to control by law, it should be considered when creating policies in protecting prostitutes’ psychological health.
Condom use is not always a part of sex work, and if sex work was legalized, this could change. By keeping prostitution illegal, there are no laws to govern how the work is performed. It is a well-known fact that condoms help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. If prostitution was legalized, one of the laws could be the requirement of the use of condoms. It was reported in 2010 that out of eighty-six countries, only about twenty eight countries reported regular condom use in sex work (“Sex Workers“). If sex work was legalized, the amount of condom use would increase, leading to better protection for both the worker and the client.…