July 31, 2014

Red Light Revelations: Legalizing prostitution has benefits

Recent research shows that legalizing prostitution has a significant benefit in reducing HIV transmission rates.

Eleanor Goldberg writes:
Researchers at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, presented a new paper in which they studied HIV among female sex workers in Canada, India and Kenya. They found that infections could be reduced by 33 to 46 percent in those countries if prostitution were made legal, the Washington Post reported.
That's a rather huge change.

There are reasons for this that Goldberg explains:
Because prostitutes fear getting caught by law enforcement, they rush the process along with clients and often don’t take the time to discuss protecting against STDs. Further compounding the problem is the fact that these sex workers are often stigmatized, and don’t get the care they need from health workers. 
Criminalization also has other unintended consequences:
Even those who do have access to condoms, and the time to put them on, are often reluctant to do so because police will confiscate them and use them as evidence against the sex workers. 
Criminalization also reduces the power of sex workers. If you, yourself, are engaged in an illegal activity, what power do you have? You can't threaten to call the police...but your client can.

Your body is your own--no one else's--to decide what you do and don't want to do with it. That's my philosophical stance.

In practice, prostitution is a victimless crime. Who does it hurt? If we can create more revenue, and a safer environment, and decrease crime, and reduce rates of HIV transmission...what are we waiting for?

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