Can Legalized Marijuana Justify Legalized Prostitution?
The logic goes as follows in both cases:
- Legalization would reduce the number of people in prison for a victimless crime
- Public health would improve
- Tax revenue would increase
- There would be less violence
Apparently, these are cookie-cutter reasons to explain legalizing any vice. But it seems these arguments are no more valid about prostitution than they are about marijuana.
Organizations like the ACLU have urged decriminalization of prostitution and have even gone so far to say "prostitution should not be made criminal, solicitation for prostitution is entitled to the protection of the First Amendment."
"There are generally parallels in all of these legalizing victimless - or so called victimless - crime arguments," opined Stephanos Bibas, professor of law and criminology, and the director of the Supreme Court clinic at the University of Pennsylvania law school. "But there some obvious differences, for example, the addictive nature of marijuana as opposed to prostitution. Then there is the human trafficking involved prostitution, which is not a problem present in marijuana legalization."
An excellent example of the pro-prostitution mantra comes from Business Insider , which argued for the economic and social benefits of legalized prostitution. It contained seven of these legalization bromides. They are:
- 1- It would reduce violence against women
- 2- Legalization can save precious law enforcement resources
- 3- Prostitution is a victimless crime
- 4- Prostitution can be a tax revenue source
- 5- Sex workers would be healthier ( maybe they should be called "intimacy engineers"?)
- 6- Prostitutes can get labor rights
- 7- Prostitution is not going away anytime soon
These are all very plausible reasons to be sure. But closer scrutiny reveals the cracks in the logic.
1- It would reduce violence against women - The article cited a study about violence in brothels and noted that in Nevada's legal brothels there were "panic" buttons in the rooms. Also, brothel owners established relations with law enforcement to control violent customers. The article also explained that, currently, illegal brothels do not call the police for violent customers. So, prostitution proponents acknowledge the business is dangerous. Since the establishment of legalized brothels would encourage more such trade, it follows the possibility of violence against women would increase not decrease.
2- Legalization can save precious law enforcement resources - Here pro-prostitution people contradict themselves. First, they say that legalization would involve increasing police presence to prevent violence in brothels. Ergo, legalization would require using more precious law enforcement resources not less.
3- Prostitution is a victimless crime - Legalized prostitution proponents contend that prostitution is a victimless crime. They cite the Nevada counties where prostitution is legal. They also point to the countries where prostitution is legal such as Germany, Mexico or Switzerland, where at one time a prostitute could be as young as 16 years old. Studies and law enforcement organizations have shown that prostitution, even legal prostitution, increases one of the most heinous crimes on the planet - human trafficking. So it is far from a victimless crime.