Pros and cons of licensing prostitution

LAST UPDATED AT 08:00 ON Wed 13 Dec 2006

ARGUMENTS FOR:

  • There have always been prostitutes, and there always will be. To pretend otherwise is humbug and hypocrisy.
  • Current laws are confused and illogical. Prostitution itself is not illegal, though soliciting in a public place is. Advertising sexual services is not illegal, if done in coded language. Making use of prostitutes is legal, though living off their earnings is not. The confusion puts prostitutes on the borderline of criminality.
  • The Ipswich murders show how dangerous a prostitute's life can be. Licensing would allow prostitutes to work in legal brothels, a more secure environment.
  • Licensed prostitutes could be required to submit to regular medical examinations; reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Sex is a commodity offered for sale. The sale of other goods is regulated. The sale of sex should be no different.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST:

  • Prostitution is immoral and degrading to women. No decent society should give it the stamp of public approval by licensing those who practise it.
  • Far from relaxing the law, it should be made more severe. Decent citizens should not have to tolerate the existence of 'red-light districts' to which police turn a blind eye.
  • The way to curb prostitution is to make it a criminal offence to buy sex.
  • It is foolish to suppose that licensing prostitutes would prevent other women - drug addicts for instance - from working as unlicensed prostitutes. A licensed prostitute who failed a medical examination would likely return to the street. So licensing prostitutes would not solve the problem.
  • Sex should not be regarded as a commodity, divorced from love. Licensing prostitution makes the statement that society approves of that divide.

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