Like a lot of women I'm uncomfortable with legalized prostitution.  Mostly because a lot of prostitutes have a history of sexual abuse and being a prostitute seems degrading.

All the same, I think laws against prostitution and other victimless crimes have to go.  The laws against prostitution make it dangerous to be a prostitute and increase the power of pimps and probably help trap women in prostitution. 

The victimless-crime laws are perhaps a consequence of religion.  Perhaps religion is the source of the idea that government has the right to enforce personal morality. 

There's a good documentary on legalized prostitution in Nevada.  By the very cute Louis Theroux, which is a good part of its enjoyable-ness :)

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Comment by Luara on May 4, 2013 at 6:21pm

What you are probably wondering about me is that since I was religious for along time is that I believed in a supernatural force that was concerned with making me obey it's rules.

Not at all!  I didn't think anything like that.  And I'm not upset, you haven't said anything upsetting :)  (soothe, soothe :)

All I would say, is that the ethics or the damage or the dangers of prostitution, are a separate issue from whether it should be illegal. 

The laws against prostitution don't stop it - they make the situation of prostitutes much worse.  They're a large part of the damage done to the prostitutes. 

The prostitutes in legal brothels don't seem to be so badly off.  Some of them are doing it because they're damaged people.  There was one woman in the Louis Theroux documentary who had lost her hearing in one ear ... because she was shot by her husband.  But they at least have the chance to go on and do something else.  Unlike street prostitution, the work isn't massively traumatizing them - it doesn't involve endangering their lives, getting raped or beaten.  It could still be traumatizing, but it isn't radically dangerous. 

I'm not much bothered by a woman making her living that way, if that really is her choice.  I can't judge how an abuse survivor is to cope with her abuse.  Maybe she feels more free as a prostitute.  Prostitutes point out that the conventional role for a woman - providing sex, nurturing and cooking for her husband - is much less free and doesn't pay as well as being a prostitute. 

A lot of prostitutes, both women and men, actually start when they are children, 14 or so.  And that is definitely not OK.  Aren't there all kinds of social services to take care of these children?  Apparently not, they just get sent back to the abusive family they ran away from, or they get stuck with foster parents who don't care about them?  That really is horrific - children run away because the situation at home is so bad - and they have to prostitute themselves to earn their living. 

A lot of prostitutes are addicted to something - a drug, alcohol, etc.  And they have to prostitute themselves to buy the drugs, which are expensive because they're illegal, and the drugs maybe make it easier to forget about the sex-work.  Our society's punitive attitudes about drug addiction cause damage to prostitutes. 

We have this massive criminal underclass created by the victimless-crime laws - people living dangerous lives because of those laws.  And it's hard for them to get out of it, it's harder to "go straight" because of the victimless-crime laws.  It's hard to "go straight", get job training for a regular job, etc., if you're terrifically stressed by beatings, rapes, etc.  It creates a sort of caste system, with an illegal sex worker or pimp in one caste and the "regular people" in another. 

The victimless-crime laws have a lot of victims!

If something very disruptive happened, any woman could be forced to prostitute herself, in one way or another.  People get by however they can, in bad circumstances.  For example in Nazi-occupied countries, some women became the "property" of a Nazi officer.  Economic difficulties can easily force a woman into prostitution. 

Anyway - I was wondering if the victimless-crime laws are related to religion.  I don't like to automatically go around blaming everything on religion - but there is a parallel between the all-seeing, moralistic J/I/C God, and the victimless-crime laws!

Certainly the attitude towards prostitutes comes out of patriarchy. 

Comment by Luara on May 4, 2013 at 11:15am

if my child became a prostitute , it's not something that I would talk to people enthusiatically about to other people and I wouldn't say that I would be 'proud' of my kid for being a prostitute.

I wonder if religion causes people to want to translate that kind of feeling into laws? 

Because religion - J/I/C anyways - involves a perceived presence that is all-powerful AND wants to regulate personal morality.  I wonder if it's natural for religious people to translate that idea into laws against consensual/voluntary acts. 

I don't find laws against victimless crimes to be a natural idea - and I didn't grow up with the idea of that supernatural force concerned with making me obey its rules. 

So I wonder if there's a connection. 

For people who were sexually abused as children and become prostitutes (both women and men), the laws against prostitution act as further abuse.  Not only is being a prostitute perhaps acting as a reenactment of the sexual abuse - but they are also endangered because they don't have the protection from violent clients that legal prostitutes have.  They're less likely to call the police for help, they're less likely to be working in a brothel that has protection built in (like surveillance cameras, alarms etc.)  They're more likely to get diseases - when it's legal, the clients will be checked for diseases and the prostitutes can more easily get clients to wear condoms. 

What the laws against prostitution are in effect saying, is that prostitutes are scum and don't deserve the rights that other people have.  They're relegated to the basement of society by criminalization. 

A long time ago I got a phone call in the middle of the night.  I answered, semiconscious, and a frantic woman, gasping in panic, asked for some guy.  Who wasn't there.  I told her she had the wrong number and she gasped "they're coming" and she hung up. 

Likely she was a prostitute who didn't call 911 because she was afraid she'd get into trouble. 

Or maybe she was involved in a drug deal. 

She was risking her life or her safety because of her fear of these uncaring laws.  The punishment for being immoral turns out to be rape, AIDS, being mugged, beaten or murdered.  Which really is brutal. 

Comment by Luara on May 3, 2013 at 7:47pm

It's not about whether prostitution is a good thing or not - but rather that the laws against it are harmful, both to the women and to the men. 

Even if it's something women get into for the wrong reasons - like having been sexually abused as children and seeing themselves as a sexual commodity - that still doesn't mean that laws against it are a good idea. 

Some women say they like doing sex-work - and that's their decision, even if it's the "wrong" decision in some sense.  The more freedom to choose our lifestyles, the better. 

Similarly for drug laws - it's not that I think drug addiction is a good way to live.  But laws and punitive attitudes are a terrible way to deal with people's drug problems.

The legal brothel in Nevada in the Louis Theroux documentary is a surprisingly decent place. 



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