(This article is the second part of the series ‘Logic of Legal or Illegal,’ in order to understand the basic line of argument, which is to decide the course of law on the basis of reason and not of emotion, please read the first article.)
Prostitution is often regarded as the world’s oldest profession. However, in our times, it is illegal in almost all countries developed or otherwise. The life of a prostitute is considered as worst possible in conservative societies and prostitutes are considered as evil. Even the modern societies discard prostitution as a low-level job and the last resort of women under serious poverty.
However, having sex with a person of your choice is not a crime and exchanging money for a service is also not a crime. Yet, things changes when money is exchanged between two people for the provision of sexual services. Sex workers not only suffer humiliation in society, they also suffer exploitation from police as prostitution is a crime. But what makes it a crime? It’s not the exchange of money which is crime, nor is it the consensual sex between two adults (except in some eastern countries like India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc. where there are some restrictions).
Here again the deep rooted misguided compassion works in a negative sense and actually causes harm for many sex workers who are forced to lead a life of criminal, victims and exploited. If I say that in a libertarian free society, prostitution will be legal, you will find it disgusting. The very first reaction would be a knee-jerking response, if prostitution will be legal; won’t evil people force innocent women to work as prostitutes?”
The first thing is, maintaining prostitution as an illegal activity doesn’t stop evil men from forcing innocent women in this job. Second thing is, legalizing prostitution will strictly mean that forcing women in prostitution will be a strict crime. Forcing anybody against his or her will for anything is crime in a free society. However, legalizing prostitution will help the innocent women in cases when anybody will try to force them in prostitution because at least they will be able to complain against that person despite being a prostitute. At present, even if a girl is forced to work as a prostitute, she won’t try to complain against it in police because, prostitution is crime. This irrational law is in fact the reason which corrupts police. If a girl forced to be a prostitute, chooses to complaint in police, the person who is exploiting her will bribe the police and it is pretty easy because prostitution is crime. So in reality, the girl who is victim is construed as a criminal and exploiting and punishing a victim is no crime. So you see, while prostitution is criminalized for helping poor women, it acts opposite and becomes the reason of exploitation of many innocent girls.
However, there certainly are many women who willfully work as prostitute. If prostitution is made legal, they will be able to work in safer conditions. By asserting prostitution as illegal, government actually creates a deficiency of prostitutes. While in real market, there is a strong demand for prostitutes and hence prostitution appears to be a rich profession and easy way to make money. Hence it lures many women. However, if prostitution will be legalized, the deficiency of prostitution will be minimized and it will reduce the richness of this profession. As a result, not many women will be lured towards it. In addition, the hookers will also not get any incentive in forcing a girl in this profession while it will also be a crime. So, they will also prefer not to force any woman in prostitution as there will be many women who will be willingly working as sex workers in safe, healthy and less exploited market.
In order to make situation further beneficial and protective for women, many voluntary unions (just like current NGOs) will come up to offer health and fitness licenses for prostitutes. They will offer monthly medical checkups, proper counseling and various disease preventive measures.
However, people just deny accepting reason and try further to make use of emotions. Even after explaining that a libertarian society where prostitution will be legal, safe and allowed, people will throw up another knee-jerking argument and will say, “It is easy to talk about others, would you prefer yourself, or your mother, sister or daughter to work as prostitute?”
It may sound odd, yet often raise such irrational arguments against the issue of legalization of prostitution. And often they feel great and intellectual as they consider it to be a valid argument. The first thing is, supporting the cause of decriminalization of a voluntary act is certainly different than willing oneself or one’s sister or daughter or mother to perform the same act. I am not a doctor, nor I want to be a doctor, but that doesn’t mean that I should demand criminalization of the profession of doctors.
Second thing is, if a person is not a thief, then it doesn’t mean that he is not stealing or looting others because there is a law against stealing and looting. Law doesn’t stop anyone from doing anything. It is our inner conscience and our urgency or need that make us to act in a particular way. If that particular way of action is harming others, or causing a threat to their freedom, then such act (like theft or robbery) can be criminalized. However, if that act is not against anybody’s freedom and right than should it be criminalized? Prostitution, the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment is a voluntary action. It is not a crime because it is not against the freedom of anyone, rather it is a consensual act no different than giving a massage or hair cut service.
Since prostitution is illegal, it is a rich black market with a huge demand and often the profitability of this profession attracts many women towards it as in case of Chinese girl who preferred to work as a prostitute and become BAD because there is huge money in it1
If prostitution is decriminalized or made legal, the market will lose its profitability and it won’t be a way to make fast money and hence it will fail to attract the college or working girls that are in need of money.
Recently, the Supreme Court of India decided to set a committee to survey and research about the situation and working condition of sex workers throughout the county. The bench of the committee is in favor of decriminalizing prostitution and allowing sex workers to work in a respectable and safer condition. I hope that this will be a milestone in the journey towards a libertarian free society which respects each individual and their individual rights.2
- There was a karaoke parlor in the hotel.. .And all the girls didn’t have to work at all. Yet they made big money. I worked all day and made 400 yuan [$53] a month. it’s because of money that I became ‘bad,’ and joined the business. [↩]
- Supreme Court sets a panel to survey about sex workers and to decide about necessity of legalizing prostitution [↩]