He Said, She Said: Legalizing Prostitution

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One of the last rites of passage of a modernized society is the legalization of prostitution. Although sex work has receded to the background of social issues concerning the United States, its legalization remains a contested topic of debate, dredged up every time news of a philandering politician or soccer mom prostitution ring surfaces in the media. While these stories tend toward the scandalous, there is an underlying conversation about legalization worth having.

Governmental recognition of prostitution varies from country to country. The sex trade is legal and regulated today in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, Mexico, and New Zealand, to name


This is the debut installment of "He Said, She Said," where Patch invites you to a local discussion on issues surrounding gender. Add your comments in a captioned photo by clicking the "Upload Photos and Videos" button above, or just weigh in below in our comments thread.


a few. Other nations have made prostitution illegal but punish the client, not the sex worker. Some governments are sympathetic and see sex work as a source of income for women who may not have other employment options.

In this regard, the U.S. has moved backward, not forward. Up until the 20th century, sex work was tolerated in major cities from coast to coast, and regulation attempts were made by city councils. In the 1910s, San Francisco set up a municipal clinic to register and examine female sex workers for venereal disease. The clinic operated for two years and succeeded in reducing instances of VD, as well as rescuing women who had been trafficked into the sex trade. The clinic closed its doors when the California state legislature passed the Red Light Abatement Act, effectively eliminating legalized prostitution and forcing sex workers underground.

Movements for the legalization of prostitution in the United States spring up regularly, usually lead by sex workers themselves. Arguments in favor of legalization are pragmatic: Sex workers suffer incredible violence and harassment at the hands of clients, pimps and police. Legalization of prostitution would reduce instances of sex trafficking and ensure that every sex worker is part of the trade by their own free choice. Regulation of prostitution would also help track and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections. True elimination of prostitution will never be achieved, and would it not make more sense to regulate it safely?

Dorothy DeBisschop June 30, 2012 at 02:18 PM
The article says, "True elimination of prostitution will never be achieved, and would it not make more sense to regulate it safely?" Couldn't the same be said of child pornography, or murder?
Jay Halpern July 02, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Hi, Dorothy. "Prostitution" implies consenting adults. Neither child porn nor murder do. If prostitution involves underage or non-consensual participants, that's a whole different ball game and should be treated as criminal activities. It's sad enough that so many people have to pay for sex and others seem compelled to sell their bodies in lieu of other economic opportunities. Let's legalize what's consensual and cultivate our own gardens.
OxfordCitizen July 22, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I agree with Jay....and legalize pot while we're at it. The tax revenue we'd gain alone make it a no brainer. Legalized gambling has been around for decades, and new casinos are popping up all over. Geez, what would CT do without all the slots revenue if that suddenly went away ? Not to go totally off topic here but the other half of the equation is how smart & careful the ST & Fed is with the tax revenue.....


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