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Prostitution and Legislation

Sex for sell. For some prostitution is a victimless crime while others fight hard in the hopes of one day abolishing prostitution forever. The topic of prostitution remains a greatly debated issue even after so many years of existence. Prostitution existed as far back in time as ancient Athens and ancient Rome. In Rome, prostitutes were licensed by the state and taxed. Prostitution continued to flourished through out Europe until the High Middle Ages with the outbreak of the syphilis epidemic and Reformation morality (Academic American Encyclopedia 91).

In most large Western cities today prostitution is illegal but tolerated, because police there are more concerned with regulating the crimes, organized by crime syndicates, associated with prostitution (Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia 94). Other Western governments combine regulated prostitution with public health measures to control disease (American Academic Encyclopedia 91). Prostitution has lasted and survived every attack by civilization to end it. Some would say that for as long people have both money and sexual frustration some will continue to pay others to satisfy them ( Bovard 18).

Existing throughout the world and time, prostitution has managed to survive, however a growing number of people are beginning to look at the effect legalization of or strict laws for prostitution would have on a community. Prostitution in the world is alive and well despite the fact that is it consider illegal in most developed countries (Academic American Encyclopedia 91). Some see it as an issue of safety in out neighborhoods and other take it on as a moral issue.

However, because of the spread of disease and what seems to be a futile battle, many cities in America and other countries are considering the possibility of legalization and regulation of prostitution. In Britain, it is considered legal to sell sex but, the associated activities including soliciting, advertising, street walking, and running brothels is illegal (“Green-light areas” 73). The article “Green-Light Area” talks of how the police in Britain tend to turn a blind eye to prostitution and go after the pimps and drug-dealers who are connected with the prostitution (73).

This method of policing is different from that in America where police concentrate on the prostitutes themselves. Brothels are also given license in Britain. The thinking being that is it allows regular visits by health officials who check basic standards of hygiene and can dispose of dirty needles (“Green-Light Area” 73). Canada has similar laws pertaining to prostitution. The selling of sex is legal, but pimping and working a brothel is illegal (World Sex Guide 96). Toronto would like to license prostitutes and relocate to official red-light district.

The plan has little support and most of its critics say it will be ineffectual (Chisholm 35). Vancouver also has a program that allows streetwalkers to their jobs uninterrupted as long as they stay outside so called “no-go” neighborhoods (Chisholm 35). The solution for several countries and cities who have high levels of prostitution seems to be to open red light districts. In fact, some cities around the world have already taken that step. Critics would argue that this is a sort of give up mentality. Hamburg and Amsterdam are such places that have taken that step.

These places are often cited as models that provide safer environments for prostitutes. Some would argue that the benefits to red-light districts as those in Hamburg and Amsterdam are limited because the successful prostitutes would dominate these zones and others would simply move to surrounding neighborhoods (Chisholm 35). Hamburg is noted for making streetwalkers undergo frequent health checks but even advocates for the legalization of prostitution say that Amsterdam has some problems to work out (Bovard 18).

The most known about place for commercial sex in America is the state of Nevada. Brothels, which are legal in 12 rural counties in Nevada tend to be safe places to indulge in sexual activities. (Bovard 18). Those against prostitution state that although the brothels may be not a health risk there still are downfalls. Anastasia Volkonsky, a columnist for Insight on the News, says that even the legal brothels maintain a connection with the pimping circuit by paying finder’s fee to pimps who discover and bring in new girls (20).

Women in Nevada’s brothels have reported working 12 hour shifts even menstruating or pregnant, right to refuse a customer’s sexual demands. (Volkonsky 20). In places such as Budapest, no only is prostitution legal but is flourishing and now the government wants to tax it. The average prostitute in Hungary makes around two-thousand dollars a month. Brothels will probably be allow soon and the only major restriction is that soliciting is banned near churches and schools. (“The Red Lights of Italy… and Hungary” 45). Not all places like the if you cannot be them join them attitude taken by many countries and cities.

They believe the best way to stop prostitution is through harsher laws that target certain individuals and tough enforcement. Those who want stronger laws against prostitution now want to concentrate more on the customer more so than the prostitute. Many officials advocate crackdowns on johns and pimps while providing help for those women who want to leave the life of prostitution (Chisholm 35). One could argue that as far as crimes go prostitution is victimless crime, but others would say that it is a matter of public safety and disease control.

Would harsher laws end prostitution or result in a lot of persons getting their cars impounded? Regardless as to what effects harsher laws will have on prostitution, new laws are still being tried out in several states in America. Advocates for legalization say that harsher laws have to be enforced and that cost money. One Los Angeles official estimated that prostitution enforcement was costing the city more than 100 million a year (Bovard 18). Still the trend in America seems to lean toward legislation to crackdown on prostitution.

Supporters feel that targeting the customer kills the demand in an area and so the prostitutes are forced to move to another area. Some ways police enforce these laws are to extreme say some critics of harsher legislation. In most cases, since neither prostitutes nor their clients complain to police out the others conduct, law enforcement rely sting operations to catch offenders ( Bovard 18). In the past these sting operation would give the offender a minor punishment and send them on their way.

Today law enforcement is beginning to see that it is the customer with their jobs, money, status in society, clean arrest record, and anonymity that have the most to lose. This has triggered laws that allows police to seize cars those soliciting prostitutes( Volkonsky 20). Another popular new legal step taken to shame would-be customers, is to list their name or photo in the town paper. ( Volkonsky 20). These new measure may or may not work, it is still to soon to tell. Prostitution has started to get more and more attention in the last year or so and change in legislation is almost inevitable.

Although change is coming, the world is still divided on where, what, and when the change is coming. Advocates for legalization believe red-light districts and regulation is the answer. Others believe new laws that target and effect would be offenders is the answer. No one can predict the future and only time will tell. Tomorrow may bring a country that is similar to Nevada or a place where convicted offenders have their vehicles impounded and their faces shown on the local news.

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