Who’s rights are we talking about: legalised prostitution

OnlineOpinion.com.au 25 June 2007

At the beginning of the 21st century governments worldwide are confronted with an unprecedented escalation of the global sex industry. An intrinsic component of this new world sex market is the trafficking of millions of people, mainly women and girls, for commercial sexual exploitation.

The US Government has intimated that after drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, with the majority of people trafficked for sexual exploitation. Increasingly governments are opting for legalisation of prostitution as the solution to this crisis. Uncritiqued, the arguments proffered by pro-prostitution advocates for treating prostitution as “work” appear persuasive. They argue that a legally regulated industry will contain industry expansion, eliminate organised crime and help eradicate sex trafficking and child prostitution.

… But just whose rights are being protected when women and girls become just another sought-after consumer good in the market place?

In 1984 the Victorian Labor Government under John Cain introduced legalised prostitution, one of the first governments in the world to do so. Victoria’s experience allows us to put the spotlight on the real consequences, particularly for women, of treating prostitution as a job just like any other. Not only does legalisation not control prostitution’s harms, it produces many of its own making. The purported benefits of for women in prostitution of legitimising the trade are a myth. State endorsement of prostitution greatly expands the legal, as well as illegal, sectors of the industry, with the latter four to five times that of the regulated trade.
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