The question whether prostitution should get legalized in the United States is currently the subject of numerous media publications as well as scholarly research. The ongoing debate on the problem has two opposing viewpoints on which status prostitution should have in the United States. Whereas prostitution is actually illegal across the country, except for several rural counties in the state of Nevada, in reality it is thriving in all largest U.S. cities, of course illegally (Carroll 531). The first group in the debate about the status of prostitution says it should retain its status of a criminal offense, or it should be legalized. THESIS STATEMENT: Prostitution should not be legalized in our country, since this will affect the society in an negative way. Legalization of prostitution will promote sex trafficking, increase child prostitution, and promote women inequality.
Legalized prostitution will boost sex trafficking industry. This will happen since legalization will raise the demand for sex services and thus encourage pimps to develop their sex businesses. Empirical data from the countries that have already decriminalized prostitution shows that legalized sex work is now the root cause of considerably increased sex trafficking. Specifically, lifting the ban on brothels and sex work in the Netherlands considerably increased the number of women trafficked to this country over a period of just one year (Raymond 315). Likewise, in Denmark, one more country where prostitution has been decriminalized, there were four times more victims to human trafficking in 2004 than in Sweden, a neighboring Scandinavian country, which keeps prostitution illegal. This appears particularly surprising if to think that the population of Sweden is greater by nearly 40% (Cho, Dreher, & Neumayer 74).
Despite the fact that in the countries which have legalized prostitution the laws to control the expansion of sex industry have been designed and adopted, they hardly work in real life and the sex industry keeps growing fast (Sullivan & Jeffreys 1). The comparative study by an international scholarly team of Cho, Dreher, & Neumayer, which used a sample of 116 world countries, discovered that in the states with legalized sex work the inflow of human trafficking is higher if to compare with the states banning prostitution. The researchers attribute it to rapid expansion and growth of the sex industry market rooted in the growing demand in these states (Cho, Dreher, & Neumayer 73). These examples lead to understanding that legalization of prostitution across the United States will greatly promote human trafficking rather instead of reducing it. Based on valid data collected from a big sample by Cho, Dreher, and Neumayer, we can claim that sex industry legalization will surely foster human trafficking.
Making prostitution legal will increase child prostitution. It has been found that child prostitution, which stands for “the use of children for sexual activities in exchange for remuneration or other form of retribution (gifts, food, clothes, etc)”, grows in those countries which have thriving sex markets (“Child Prostitution”). Young prostitutes get trafficked from various developing countries to the states with the growing demand for “bodies” (including Denmark, Holland, Germany, etc). This is how expansion of the sex work market and intense activity of human traffickers lead to an increase in the overall number of kids subject to sexual exploitation. One example is Holland, one of the first European countries to legalize brothels and decriminalize prostitution. Here the influx of kids for the purposes of sex services got higher by over 300% across the span of only 5 years.
By the estimate of Amsterdam-based Child Right organization, the overall number of kids engaged in sex industry grew from four thousand in 1996 to fifteen thousand in 2001 (Raymond 5). Lots of child prostitutes who provide sex services in Holland come from Nigeria (Raymond 5). One more compelling example of increase in child prostitution is the state of Victoria, Australia. Here, with legalization of sex industry, child prostitution greatly increased when compared with the Australian states which keep prostitution illegal. In Victoria legalization has led to establishment of a neatly organized commercial network of kids’ sexual exploitation (Raymond 5). These examples show that rather than eradicating kids’ prostitution via alleged accessibility of this type of services, legalization of sex work is likely to increase sexual exploitation of kids trafficked from the poorest countries.
Finally, legalization of sex work in the United States will exacerbate women inequality. As one human rights lawyer Dianne Post rightfully says, “Legalized prostitution cannot exist alongside the true equality of women”. Post explains that prostitution is not just about individual discrimination of a particular woman who has her body objectified, but more about the setting of a legal structure in the state which will fix inequality between sexes. Moreover, legalization of sex industry means that the federal authorities will actually be in control of the class of women as prostituted (New Internationalist Magazine, “Argument: Should Prostitution Be Legalized?”). Further, legalization of females as objects for sexual use will inevitably equal women to the status of commodities. When all legal barriers get removed, every ethical and social barrier to women’s treatment as mere objects of sexual merchandise are likely to get removed as well. Therefore, the upcoming generations of males will perceive females as simply things that exist in order to give sexual pleasure.
In summary, all arguments that I have presented show that prostitution should by no means become legal in the States. It will boost human trafficking, increase sexual exploitation of kids, as well as exacerbate gender inequality.