Criminalization Of Prostitution

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Prostitution has been defined as “the act or practice of engaging in sexual activity for money or its equivalent.” With the exception of a few counties in Nevada, the United States has criminalized prostitution based on the premise that it is degrading to sex workers, the vast majority of whom are female. Proponents of criminalization also argue that it reduces the demand for human trafficking victims as well as the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Despite the prohibition of prostitution, there are still an estimated 1 million prostitutes in the United States today. Sex work persists in various forms all around the country including street prostitution, escort services, strip clubs, bars, brothels, massage parlors, and more. The current …show more content…
These cultural beliefs contribute to the unequal enforcement of prostitution laws among sex workers and clients, thus reducing female sex workers’ economic opportunities and exit options. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, approximately two-thirds of prostitution arrests in the United States are of female sex workers. The National Institute of Justice estimates that only 10% of all prostitution arrests are of male clients. Even though the purchase and sale of commercial sex are both technically illegal in the United States, the unbalanced enforcement of prostitution laws renders the purchase of sex essentially legal. Meanwhile, female sex workers are much more likely to accrue prostitution charges on their criminal records, which not only limits their options for employment outside of the sex industry, but also perpetrates their dependence on prostitution to make a living. As a result, female prostitutes are often trapped in the commercial sex industry and cannot obtain the resources to break out. The social and economic costs of criminalizing prostitution are disproportionately high for female sex workers, while male clients reap most of the …show more content…
Approximately 50,000 women and children from around the world are trafficked in the US every year, mainly from Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. These women and children are coerced into engaging in commercial sex acts against their will, facing the same health issues, violence, and economic burdens associated with prostitution as described above. To some extent, the illegalization of prostitution decreases the prevalence of voluntary prostitution due to the risk of arrest and conviction. However, sex traffickers are less swayed by this policy because the risk of criminal penalty falls on the trafficked prostitute rather than the trafficker himself. Furthermore, if voluntary prostitutes leave the market, sex traffickers have an even greater incentive to continue trafficking to keep up with the demand for commercial sex. Even though conviction of the prostitute may result in a slight loss of income for the trafficker, the benefits of trafficking for sex traffickers outweigh the costs. Therefore, the current criminalization of prostitution in the US could encourage sex trafficking where the risks of arrest are higher and penalties are

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