Should prostitution be decriminalized?

In late February 2019, Robert Kraft, billionaire and owner of the New England Patriots, was one of more than a hundred people facing charges of soliciting prostitution for attending central Florida day spas and massage parlors, such as the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Several employees have also been charged with racketeering, deriving support from proceeds of prostitution and engaging or maintaining a place of prostitution. This investigation is part of a crackdown on sex trafficking.

Sweden’s “feminist government,” as it proudly calls itself, has criminalized the purchase of sex. Although prostitution is legal, and prostitutes are not arrested, being a client of a prostitute is illegal, and clients are being arrested, and incarcerated for up to one year for a single offense. This is a nice example of Swedish feminist “equality.” According to The Independent, this Swedish model has been adopted by Norway, Iceland, and, more recently, Canada and Northern Ireland, all Nordic countries heavily influenced by anti-male feminism.

Other advanced Europeans countries, notably Germany, Switzerland, and Greece, have entirely decriminalized prostitution, making voluntary contracts for sexual services legal. No one gets arrested; no one gets incarcerated. The Swedish model of criminalizing clients of prostitutes has come under considerable criticism, not least because of the harm it brings to prostitutes.

In 2016, Amnesty International formally adopted a policy advocating decriminalization of all consensual acts of purchasing sex, saying that “the criminalisation of adult consensual sex work interferes with the realisation of the human rights of sex workers.” AI went on to say ““We want laws to be refocused on making sex workers’ lives safer and improving the relationship they have with the police, while addressing the very real issue of exploitation. We want governments to make sure no one is coerced to sell sex, or is unable to leave sex work if they choose to.”

Any sociologist could tell you that prohibiting behavior by law is not the ideal way to influence people. In recent times, the 1920-1933 American experiment with prohibiting the producing, selling, and consuming of alcohol was a shambles, until it was finally cancelled. But it did produce many enterprising characters, such as Al Capone, Bugs Moran, and Machine Gun Kelley, as well as a lively liquor export business from Canada.

The official American “War on Drugs,” going on for the past fifty years, has been a boon for the law enforcement and prison business, but could it be said to have reduced the consumption of drugs? Some U.S. States and Canada have capitulated, legalizing marijuana, and in some jurisdictions the government has become the producer and seller.

Will the cold Nordic countries succeed in wiping out prostitution by victimizing customers rather than prostitutes? While it may please some feminists to punish men, it seems unlikely that such measures will remove the will to establish such relations. After all, the age when sexuality was highly restricted, with Church backing and community pressure, is long gone. Today among young people the ‘hook-up” culture is normal, and promiscuity is the statistical fact. As well, the prohibition of a voluntary and consensual contract between two free adults is seen as an arbitrary and unnecessary diminution of freedom.

While sex trafficking, minors in prostitution, and pimp-controlled prostitutes are violations of human rights that should and must be suppressed, voluntary relations of adults for the exchange of money and sexual services should not be criminalized.

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