Why Prostitution Should Be Legal

Hello everyone. Yesterday afternoon I was scrolling through twitter and saw a friend of mine had shared an online petition (no  not THAT one). Usually I scroll past these petitions as they’re often poorly thought out, and  I don’t think the government ever takes them seriously.

This one however caught my attention and  because its something that does occasionally get debated in parliament, I did sign it.

The focus of the petition is to decriminalize sex workers working together either on the streets or together in premises. The reason for this is to make work safer for sex workers.

If this were the only reason sex work should be made legal it would be enough, but I’ve long believed there are many reasons why prostitution should be legalised. So today I’m going to discuss my reasonings with you.

Red brick background. Written om wall im black "why Prostitution Should be leg

What is legal?

Before I go any further it makes sense to explain what is legal and illegal under UK law.
Currently it is perfectly legal for a man or woman over 18 to receive payment for sex. It is illegal however for anybody to advertise sex for sale or solicit someone to pay for sex.

It is legal for a person to work as a sex worker from a premises, either a house or a brothel. But it is illegal to run a brothel, and a brothel is defined as two or more people working in a premises selling sex.

So that is the law as it stands at the moment. Why do I think it should be changed? There are five main reasons

1- Prostitution laws are largely based on outdated moral judgements.

Silhouette of a victorian man and lady

Going back in history prostitution was regarded as a legal activity. In medieval England brothels were often publicly owned, and in London it was the bishops  who licensed brothels. Early prostitution laws were more to do with regulation of the trade, such as prostitutes had to wear identifiable clothing to protect respectable women.

Henry VIII banned brothels in the mid 16th century due to the spread of syphilis, but prostitution was tolerated by society up till the beginning of the 19th century.

Current laws relating to prostitution can be dated back to the 19th century and were informed by Victorian morality. Victorians believed that sex should only occur between married couples for the purpose of procreation. Sex outside of marriage, or sex for pleasure were concepts that were viewed as evil.

It’s worth noting that Victorian women who lived with men outside of wedlock, had illegitimate children or who worked as actresses were all called prostitutes.

These days it would be totally inappropriate to call actresses, unwed parents or cohabitors prostitutes. Yet much of society still holds the view that while sex for pleasure or outside of wedlock is acceptable, selling it sex still very wrong.

2- legalizing prostitution would free up police

The UK police force is stretched far too thinly these days. Thanks to austerity measures we have far fewer police than we need. Were prostitution to become 100% legal this would free up officers to work on other crimes.

These officers could then focus on specific  crimes that happen around sex workers. Such as assaults and human trafficking.

3 – It would help raise taxes

Back and white drawing. Five stacks of coins in a row. From left to right each coin stack gets bigger

I think the government is missing a trick here. They like nothing better than to tax people, and there are many taxes they could impose by legalizing prostitution. Income tax for every working woman is the most obvious one, plus business taxes from brothels.

This money could be ploughed back into policing to investigate cases of human trafficking and in health care for workers and their clients.

4 – It would increase the safety of working girls.

Going back to the aims of the petition, there is no doubt legalizing all sex work would vastly improve safety for girls.

For  girls who  work on the streets being able to do so in pairs or groups would reduce the risk of them being physically assaulted. Also if brothels were legal they would be less likely to have to work on the streets, further reducing the risk of assault.

5 – It would reduce the exploitation of vulnerable girls

Whenever I read articles about sex workers they predominately talk about exploitation of girls. This annoys me on several levels.

Firstly there are a lot of people in the sex trade who are not being exploited. I personally know a number of women who have been sex workers at some point in their lives, some of these are online friends, some real life friends. In every case these are strong, confident, independent women who made a choice. Some did it because the money is really good, others because they love sex.

Secondly exploitation and trafficking of people occurs in a many industries. In 2012, the International Labour Organisation estimated there were 21 million victims trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these 68% were exploited for labour compared to 22% who were sexually exploited.

In the UK modern-day slaves may well be the people who clean your car, the girl at the nail bar, the girls who come in to clean your offices, or the people who pick your fruit veg. In all these situations its easy to recognised that it’s the gangs forcing their victims to work who are wrong. There is never a call for these industries to be made illegal because they promote the exploration of vulnerable people.

However I have digressed, exploitation of individuals does happen in sex work. but it is counter intuitive to think that keeping it illegal is helping those girls.

legalizing brothels help in several ways. Currently brothels are illegal, so they are going to be by and large seedy backstreet establishments. By providing men with clean, safe legal places to seek out working girls, it will be far easier for clients to identify and avoid places that don’t seem quite legit. Thus creating less demand for gang run brothels.

It would also mean brothels would be subject to the same employment checks as any other business. The police would be able to check employees legal status to work the same as they would in any other business. Girls who are identified not legally working in the UK will then be flagged up as possible victims of exploitation.

So there are my thoughts on the current legal status of prostitution. Do you think I’m right, or do you think the laws should remain as they are?

14 Comments

  1. Bryony shaw

    March 26, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    I love your research into it Mrs A! #mixitup

  2. csuhpat1

    March 26, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    I so agree with you for all the reasons above. It is time to give some safety to the sex workers and give them clean places to work. #MixitUp

  3. Michelle K

    March 26, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    As what Laurie said about Nevada, it’s the only state right now that has legal prostitution and it does work there but for whatever reason it’s not legal anywhere else. I’ll be honest, I don’t keep up on this topic but from what I have read, there are groups here in the U.S. trying to get it legalized and using the same reasons you mentioned. The biggest reason here is to help prevent exploitation of young girls and children. Though I wonder just how much it would help considering we seem to have a darker part of society that gets off on exploiting our kids. Research over here says human trafficking is second to weapons and drugs. But then if it was legalized then it could be regulated. Human trafficking will still exist but maybe if would be easier for law enforcement to catch the REAL bad guys who are forcing people into enslavement. This is a tricky topic for sure but worth thinking about. #MixitUp

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      March 27, 2019 at 8:20 am

      Exactly as you say, exploitation will always happen, but by Legalising sex work the focus of the police could then be on those doing the exploiting rather than the industry as a whole

  4. endardoo

    March 26, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Love the pun, intended or otherwise, when you were talking about the government taxing prostitution: “I think the government is missing a TRICK here” Interesting arguments made, though. #MixItUp

  5. Alice v

    March 26, 2019 at 1:46 am

    Such a controversial topic to tackle! I happen to agree that they should legalize it, even here in the USA because it would be taxable income, sex workers would have actual work standards, they would actually have done kind of protection, not be liable to pimps because wages have to be documented, and the risk could be minimalized with annual physicals and disease testing.

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      March 26, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      Yes , Proper health care is another inportant factor

  6. Rosie Doal

    March 25, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    I agree with all of your reasons, Mrs A. Years ago I never would have shared your viewpoint but as I’ve gotten older, I understand better now. I would rather have women be safe, and you’re right, it frees up police too x #MixitUp

  7. Lauren Sparks

    March 25, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    There do seem to be some discrepancies in your laws as to what is legal and what is not. I do still think the majority of women who find themselves in this industry are being trafficked or exploited and would do just about anything else if given a way out. For those reasons, I have to disagree with you. But very interesting to read your thoughts. laurensparks.net

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      March 25, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      That’s the impression a lot of people have about the industry, but its not born out when you talk to many of the men and women in the industry. I think their voices need to be heard xx

  8. Laurie

    March 25, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    I agree with you for all the reasons you spell out. It may seem shocking at first, but it makes sense. Prostitution is legal on one of our states – Nevada. It seems to work out there.

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      March 25, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      I didn’t realise that. Would be interested to know what regulations they have there xx

      1. Laurie

        March 25, 2019 at 11:05 pm

        I am not sure. I know they have inspections, but I don’t know what the regulations are.

      2. This Scribbler Mum

        March 26, 2019 at 1:41 pm

        Interesting points. It is one of those things that, on the one hand, needs to be discouraged but on the other hand, needs to be properly controlled otherwise it gets out of hand. #MixItUp

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