I believe prostitution should be legalized.
The right to adults to make decisions about their own body is one I feel strongly about in most (all?) senses, and I would extend that belief to the right of adults to sell their body for sexual purposes.
My gut reaction (and the primary reason I feel this way) is I believe that adults should be trusted to make their own decisions over their own body. Much like abortion or getting a star tattoo on their foot, adults should be entitled to make their own decisions over their own body - (almost?) no exceptions.
Right now, prostitution is like other crimes - where prostitutes (mostly women) are forced to conduct their business in to dark alleys, unfamiliar vehicles, sketchy hotel rooms, and other unsafe, unattended locations. By legalizing prostitution, some amount of safety can be given to these women - if we removed the crime (and the fear of legal repercussion) these transactions can be conducted in safer locations.
In addition to keeping these sex workers safer, I think there is potential benefit to public safety. If prostitution was legalized, then STDs and safe sex could be monitored. It could be treated in the same manner as, say pornography, where sex-workers would be required (or encouraged) to maintain up-to-date health reports, with frequent tests for STDs, and monetary encouragements to practice safe sex.
From a monetary standpoint, if prostitution was treated as a business transaction, then each interaction could be taxed. (I recognize that many of these transactions would continue to be done “under the table” so to speak, but I would make a comparison to babysitting. While many babysitters don’t report their income, there are certain organizations – babysitting coalitions - with whom babysitters are affiliated, which would provide a vehicle for income reporting and taxation).
People who disagree with me often believe that legalizing prostitution is immoral, and that it encourages women to be oppressed by their male clients. But as per the usual, I completely disagree. I don't think that a non-universal sense of morality should dictate laws. Perhaps more importantly, the idea that women would be further oppressed by legalizing prostitution is completely off the mark. Oppression is the exercise of authority or power.. in a burdensome, cruel or unjust manner. I just don’t see how this applies to legalizing prostitution, because frankly, by factoring out the “illegal” part, women are given back the power over their body, their decision, and their transaction.
Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?