Criminalizing prostitution violates personal liberties

Opinions Columnist | Public relations freshman

Prostitution, like all other forms of victimless crimes, should be legalized.

One of the many conundrums I have never been able to understand is how in today’s world people still do not have basic personal freedom. A woman can have sex with a man on any given day at any given time, but if she asks him for money as compensation then all of a sudden they both have committed a crime.

This puzzling argument of what is and is not acceptable sexual behavior is problematic. The specifics of draconian prostitution laws are outdated, confusing and backward.

In pornography, actors and actresses are paid to have sex with one another, last time I checked. How is it that porn is legal and prostitution is not? According to lawmakers, adding a camera and selling footage for mass consumption is somehow morally superior to more private, for-pay intimacy.

Personally, I am of the mindset that consenting adults should be allowed to engage in whatever activities they wish, so long as they do not infringe on another person or group of persons’ rights.
It is unclear when sexual intercourse becomes a crime. The line becomes blurred when it comes to giving a woman $50 for a sexual favor versus dropping $200 at a fine restaurant in the hopes of getting laid.

With the legalization of prostitution would come regulation and taxation—arguably the cornerstones of modern democracy. The best way to combat the epidemic of teenage prostitution and the coercion that “pimps” use to force unwilling women to sell their bodies would be to place regulations on the sex industry. Sweeping it under the rug and acting as though it does not exist clearly has not worked.

This mindset has done nothing for men and women who have been unwillingly forced into the industry.

The logical thing to do would be to set up government-regulated, taxable brothels in specifically cordoned-off red-light districts. Sex workers would have to meet specific criteria in categories such as age, health and drug usage. Regulation from government entities would keep things under wraps. This would also help combat possible coercion of sex workers, as well as rape, violence and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and infections—all issues that are commonplace in the lives of illegal sex workers.

Taxing the sex industry would add much needed revenue to local and federal governments. Much like the legalization of marijuana has been projected to add $400-$700 in revenue to Colorado and Washington, taxation of the sex industry would be massively profitable for the U.S. government.  

Naysayers often legitimately ask, “What is legalization supposed to do for the abolition of human trafficking?” Simple, the same thing that criminalization has done for the abolition of human trafficking—little to nothing. Government and police officials should continue to combat the inhumane practice of human trafficking indefinitely, but the policing of what consenting adults do with their bodies has no impact on that issue.

Instead of looking at prostitution from a subjective view of “right” or “wrong,” Americans should start viewing the industry as a complex personal decision and possible financial boom to the U.S. government. Instead of forcing insular politics on consenting adults, we should legalize prostitution and reap the multiple benefits that would come with such a decision.