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Friday, February 22, 2013

Should Washington State Legalize Prostitution?

Posted by on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 1:32 PM

There's lots of talk lately about sex trafficking, women and girls and boys forced into prostitution, ways for lawmakers to crack down, and police stings to bust prostitutes and johns. But are we better off legalizing it? We could bring the whole thing above board (like we just did to pot) so we can separate the responsible players from the dangerous, illegal ones, undercut the some demand for human trafficking, establish legal standards for safe sex, regulate the market, and tax the fuck out of it.

If not, why not? And if so, how should we regulate it? Discuss.


Comments (74) RSS

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Hover Dog 2
WA should legalize prostitution for two reasons:

1) The exchange of money for sex is not an inherently immoral or dangerous act.

2) The elements of illegal prostitution that ARE immoral and dangerous (abuse, forcing underage girls to work, poor safety conditions, the list goes on) could be mitigated if there were a legal regulatory framework in place. Demand could be driven towards safer, less abusive forms of prostitution.
Posted by Hover Dog on February 22, 2013 at 1:41 PM · Report this
seatackled 3
Also, it would preserve the reputations of more pastors.
Posted by seatackled on February 22, 2013 at 1:42 PM · Report this
I think legalization brings regulation which reduces the amount of human trafficking/STDs/drug dependence and abuse of workers that dominate the industry. Sex workers are a work force fulfilling a genuine demand that, if handled legally, would be between consenting adults. Right? Somebody use a flamethrower on me!!!
Posted by totallycarey on February 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM · Report this
Oh, and let's don't forget the tax revenue that could save our schools!
Posted by totallycarey on February 22, 2013 at 1:44 PM · Report this
The Max 6
If there's a demand for something, supply will rise to meet it. If supplying that demand is illegal, decent folks who just want to make a buck are the ones who get hurt. Legalizing a sin-activity like prostitution only reduces usury. It would do nothing but good, however it's regulated. I tend to think it should be regulated like food service. Similar licensing, standards, health inspections. et al.
Posted by The Max on February 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
In order to keep the women out of slavery, I support making prostitution itself legal. However, I would only allow it if BUYING prostitution was made seriously illegal, like Class B Felony illegal. And pimping should be Class A.

The situation right now is, the rich asshole who pays gets off scot-free, while the impoverished, sexually abused, probably drug-addicted, possibly underaged, possible immigrant with confiscated papers, with no resources and no contacts in the area gets jail time and a criminal record, further ensuring that her only employment prospects are back on the street.

Very little prostitution in Washington or elsewhere involves consenting adults.
Posted by Fnarf on February 22, 2013 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Simply Me 8
Yes we should. Copy the Dutch system.
Posted by Simply Me on February 22, 2013 at 1:54 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 9
Yes! There's huge, HUGE money to made if we make our state fucking's mecca. And it should be legalized for many more reasons, of course.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 22, 2013 at 1:55 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 10
@6 - "All employees must wash everything before returning to work."
Posted by MacCrocodile on February 22, 2013 at 1:57 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 11
Oh, then maybe when the sex industry explodes in the boonies, Seattle will want in on that game, and we can develop a proper red light district.
Posted by MacCrocodile on February 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM · Report this
"I have no idea why prostitution is illegal! Selling is legal; fucking is legal. WHY ISN'T SELLING FUCKING LEGAL!?"

- George Carlin
Posted by stealingzen on February 22, 2013 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Only if I can get a family sized prostitute at Costco.
Posted by DJSauvage on February 22, 2013 at 2:07 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 14
Also, there's billions we're missing out of in porn. We should make porn here, without condoms and challenge California's almost complete control of the multi-billion porn industry. It makes no sense whatsoever.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 22, 2013 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Prostitution is illegal because it is never entered into without duress. It is a desperate survival effort by people with no other recourse (or who at least see no other recourse). It is not a vocation of choice.
Posted by Charlie Mas on February 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM · Report this
Interesting-looking new addition to Netflix streaming is "Whores' Glory". The NYT review included this quote from its filmmaker:
“Prostitution is not to be condemned or defended,” Mr. Glawogger writes. “Prostitution simply is. It is like war. War is.”…
Posted by gloomy gus on February 22, 2013 at 2:16 PM · Report this
Uhh... prostitution is already legal. It's called American politics.

Oh, the irony.
Posted by CPN on February 22, 2013 at 2:18 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 18
@15 - That's an awfully broad statement about motivation. Could that have anything to do with the fact that prostitution is illegal, and therefore filters for a certain amount of desperation?

Nobody works at McDonald's because it's what they've dreamed of forever. Should we make that illegal, too?
Posted by MacCrocodile on February 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM · Report this

At the low end, perhaps. But there has always been the High Class Call Girl, often putting themselves through school through the help of willing "patrons".

Sufiah Yusof (aka Shilpa Lee), the maths genius from Oxford, who chose prostitution as a career says that she likes being a prostitute.

She told the British tabloid the News Of The World that, "People think escorting is sleazy and terrible but I don't see it like that."

"I've always had a high sex drive—and now I'm getting all the sex I want—and guys are much better in bed with an escort than a girlfriend", she was reported saying.

Sufiah who claims to have sold her body for up to £1,000 (RM6,400) a time, said that she has a nice life and the popular belief that escorts are being exploited are not true.

"My clients treat me like a princess. One guy I see in London took me shopping on Bond Street. He bought me a beautiful black Gucci dress for £700 and then took me to Selfridges and told me to pick any handbag I liked", she was quoted saying.…
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on February 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 20
@7) I've known many women who are mentally competent, independent prostitutes, and I've met many of their colleagues in the same position. So I don't know that it's accurate to say, "Very little prostitution in Washington or elsewhere involves consenting adults." I'm not saying that abuse and exploitation isn't painfully common, but I'd venture--based on my admittedly limited personal exposure--that a lot of prostitution in Washington actually does involve consenting adults.
Posted by Dominic Holden on February 22, 2013 at 2:22 PM · Report this
sperifera 21
"tax the fuck out of it."

Nice one.
Posted by sperifera on February 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM · Report this
@18- While I can appreciate your sentiment, that is a wholly inappropriate comparison. Unless you think being penetrated repeatedly by persons with whom your sexual attraction to is negated through commercial transaction is the same as flipping a burger.
Posted by goodjobguy on February 22, 2013 at 2:30 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 23
My bias is definitely that it should be legal (as should any voluntary exchange among adults that does not involve force or fraud).

However, my enthusiasm is tempered by some counter-intuitive research that found higher rates of human trafficking into countries where prostitution is legal.

So although it makes intuitive sense (it did to me, anyway) that legalizing it would improve conditions for sex workers and reduce incentives to trafficking, what actually seems to happen is that the market gets so much bigger that it incentivizes trafficking further.

In other words, this might be where the pot analogy breaks down: there is not a pent-up market waiting for pot to be legal. Most everyone who wants to smoke pot, does.

That doesn't seem to be the case with prostitution, at least based on the LSE study cited above.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on February 22, 2013 at 2:31 PM · Report this
Jaymz 24
@12 and @20 - to be added to my example archive of "judicious use of the word fuck as a fill-in expletive to add edge to a comment." Thanks.
Posted by Jaymz on February 22, 2013 at 2:34 PM · Report this
Jaymz 25
Sorry - meant @21 and not @20, but Dominic tends to be careful in his word selection as well...
Posted by Jaymz on February 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM · Report this
@15 what sort of 'duress' are you talking about? Asinine. I'm always wondering what makes certain people convinced that they have every right to appoint themselves the concerned parent of other grown-ups.

The illegality of prostitution is no doubt one of the causes rather than a deterrent to trafficking much like how drug prohibition is one of the causes rather than a deterrent to drug related violence and addiction.
Posted by Rhizome on February 22, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
fletc3her 27
I did not avail myself of the legal prostitutes when I visited Amsterdam a few years ago, but aside from the fact that it was easy to find them in the red light district the whole business was incredibly seedy. A lot of women are apparently trafficked there from former Soviet bloc countries. Women are "protected" by bodyguards who are likely doing as much to keep the women in their place as the johns. It frankly was a lot uglier than I expected. Although outside of Amsterdam it's probably all great.
Posted by fletc3her on February 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Scheherazade 28
I was in favor of legalized prostitution until about a year ago when I started reading articles like the one referenced in #23. Legalization sounds great in theory but in practice it might be very different, and we need to study what is happening in places where it is legal and be prepared to accept the findings.
Posted by Scheherazade on February 22, 2013 at 2:42 PM · Report this
Fnarf: I've read that decriminalizing selling sex but increasing penalties for buying sex is incredibly counterproductive. This screens out the johns who are just kinda lonely or horny, and the ones who are still willing to risk the heavy punishments are the crazy ones who really like abusing girls.

The Dutch system seems like it has plenty problems, too - the Dutch government doesn't really seem like it's created a good regulatory framework that eliminates human trafficking, but that it's just kind of a free-market free for all that leaves sex workers off worse. Doesn't mean legalization always has to fail, but that there needs to be a very clear dividing line between legal prostitution and anything that smacks of human trafficking.

So I think we should wait and see how the whole pot legalization thing plays out. If we can really get criminals out of the cannabis business, then I say go for legalizing prostitution next. But we should probably only take on one criminal enterprise at a time.
Posted by redemma on February 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM · Report this
Legalizing prostitution makes it possible for sex workers to set rules and standards, prosecute anyone who assaults or victimizes them, or sue anyone who takes economic advantage of them. I'm for it.

Not all sex workers are female, I'm surprised how many of these posts refer to prostitutes as women.
Posted by Erica Tarrant on February 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 31
@23) Great comment.
Posted by Dominic Holden on February 22, 2013 at 2:46 PM · Report this
Cascadian 32
The problem isn't the prostitution, it's the pandering and trafficking of human beings (mostly women; often girls) in prostitution.

First step is making it legal to directly sell sex for money, while keeping the buying side illegal. That provides incentive for women in prostitution to cooperate with law enforcement, and gives them leverage against violent pimps and johns.
Posted by Cascadian on February 22, 2013 at 2:51 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 33
However, my enthusiasm is tempered by some counter-intuitive research that found higher rates of human trafficking into countries where prostitution is legal.

Go figure, workers are prone to migrate to the places where their profession carries fewer risks and higher rewards.
Posted by Doctor Memory on February 22, 2013 at 2:52 PM · Report this
There's a big difference between individuals migrating to another place with better working conditions and human trafficking.
Posted by redemma on February 22, 2013 at 2:59 PM · Report this
lark 35
I agree prostitution should be legal. It should be regulated, taxed, safe but not encouraged for adults 18 y/o and older gay or straight. It technically is in Calfornia and other places in America where legal pornographic films etc. are produced. Those "actors" are paid and yes, that is genuine sex one views on the screen. We get the word pornography from a Greek root word, "porne" the term for prostitute.

For the longest time I too wondered why the sex worker was the offender vs. the john who rarely is arrested. Also, the stigma of arrest and/or incarceration does little to prevent the offender from returning to "the life".

@15 I am greatly dubious that it is "not" a choice. Again, I don't encourage it. But, it should be allowed. Washington state can regulate it.
Posted by lark on February 22, 2013 at 2:59 PM · Report this
Fnarf 36
@20, certainly both kinds exist. How do you propose to distinguish between the two? What is clearly needed is a rehabilitation program, similar to drug rehab (and usually in conjunction with it), to help those women out who want out. If they want out; most of them are so damaged by their enslavement that they don't even want help for themselves; they're already dead.

Programs like this:…

I guarantee that the amount of human trafficking that goes on in Seattle is enormous, far outstripping the lovely high-end call girl operations. The problem is, it's just too powerful to not attract criminal operators, both organized and not. There are women walking along International Boulevard by the airport every night who have been raped hundreds of times by their pimps, and have no prospects for getting out. Legalization isn't going to help them.

The same operations -- sometimes the same girls -- operate in Vancouver, Portland, LA, and overseas.

The link @23 provides is very sobering. The "Dutch system" doesn't work either; Amsterdam's red light district is overrun with Russian and Romanian organized crime and trafficked women from all over the globe. That city is pulling back. There are no easy answers. But there is no "victimless crime" either.
Posted by Fnarf on February 22, 2013 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 37
Dominic, I think the most important question to ask here, is:

If we get legal brothels in Washington state, will the Stranger include them into the Shut Down! column from bad health inspections?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 22, 2013 at 3:07 PM · Report this
Fnarf 38
@33, attitudes that conflate "workers migrating" with "human trafficking" are part of the problem. The slavery in Amsterdam is not a matter of workers voluntarily migrating there; they are being taken there, stripped of their passport and other documents (drivers license, you name it), and put to work in extremely unsavory circumstances wherefrom there is no escape -- but plenty of beatings and rapes. It's grisly. It's happening here, too -- and sometimes the girls are 12-15 years old.

@30, I refer to women because female trafficking is what I know about. I have no idea whether young men are trafficked in the same way. If you have some studies, I'll be happy to look at them. The international trade in women is not in dispute.
Posted by Fnarf on February 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM · Report this
@36 Enormous? Guaranteed?

I think the trafficking issue, at least in most of this country is wildly over-hyped by busybodies whose primary agenda is not protecting underage girls from foreign lands but rather policing the morality of consenting adults in their own land.
Posted by Rhizome on February 22, 2013 at 3:11 PM · Report this
BearNecessity 40
Legalize it. Unionize it. Regulate it. Tax it.
Posted by BearNecessity on February 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 41
@22 - Not everyone is as averse to sex with strangers as you imagine them to be. While there are definitely people who go into that work for lack of other options, plenty of others would happily do it if it weren't for the dangers associated with prohibition. The idea that sex for money is inherently scarring is based on a faulty assumption.
Posted by MacCrocodile on February 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 42

It seems to work well in Sweden.


Anecdotes are not data.


Human trafficking refers to *slavery*.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 22, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Some folks do engage in sex work voluntarily and choose it as a profession.

Arguing that because many (most? less than most? we don't know) do not engage in it voluntarily it should therefore be illegal makes no sense.

We need to figure out a way of addressing both issues.

Legalization for those who choose to do sex work and help for those doing it under duress.
Posted by gnossos on February 22, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
@39: There are mountains of studies and data that state otherwise. But your comment suggests you'd rather just go with "I think..."
Posted by bigyaz on February 22, 2013 at 3:49 PM · Report this
@44 Yes I've seen 'studies' full of speculation and estimations. Whether there are 'mountains' of them I find somewhat doubtful.

I don't doubt that trafficking is a widespread problem, even in this country. I also don't doubt that most of those hyping it have an alternate agenda, that is being enforcers of virtue. Fnarf's apparent assertion that there are more trafficked prostitutes in Seattle than those practicing the trade by choice or to feed a drug habit is just a tad dubious however. No actually it is just a tad ludicrous.
Posted by Rhizome on February 22, 2013 at 4:05 PM · Report this
julie russell 46
I say no. Part of the reason sex workers (higher end ones) are compensated so generously for their services is that they are doing something risky...not just in the sense of risking their personal safety, but risking arrest/ legal issues etc. Make it legal, risk disappears & so does the *premium rate. So no...keep the hard working girls and guys pockets full.
Posted by julie russell http:// on February 22, 2013 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Human trafficking is aided by many victimless crimes, but it is not a symtptom of those crimes. Trafficking is an immigration problem first, then a sex, drugs, labor or extortion problem. Economic migration at its extreme is harshly exploitive. All employment may become exploitation if both sides allow it to happen.
Posted by pupuguru on February 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM · Report this
seandr 48
@fnarf: Very little prostitution in Washington or elsewhere involves consenting adults.

If you're genuinely interested in this topic, I encourage you to explore Seattle's online escort communities, where you'll find women who are in the biz because the hours are light and flexible, the money is decent, they work for themselves, and they don't find sex with (well behaved) strangers to be aversive. These women have chosen escorting over the 9-5 low level office and retail jobs they would otherwise qualify for. Assuming the sex isn't a deal breaker, who the fuck wouldn't make the same choice? There are precious few jobs at any education level that allow a person to make good money while allowing ample time for other pursuits such as obtaining a degree or single-parenting their kid.

And this may come as a shock to you, but your typical male client - middle aged, has some money, and doesn't want to or can't jump through the usual hoops it takes to get laid by an attractive woman - is no more interested in having sex with a toothless, addle-brained, smelly meth addict than you are. Sometimes addicts will post ads on these boards, and within an hour there'll be a dozen comments alerting everyone that the person in the ad is the same crazy meth addict who got laughably horrible reviews under a different name a year ago.

And this will warm your heart - apparently the regulars on these boards get together for holiday parties.

As I see it, making prostitution illegal is analogous to alcohol prohibition. It punishes responsible people for the misdeeds of the bad apples, it doesn't work, and it's primarily motivated by puritanical moral impulses rather than any genuine desire to do good.
Posted by seandr on February 22, 2013 at 4:52 PM · Report this
seandr 49
@fnarf: How do you propose to distinguish between the two?

The same way we do now. With a few exceptions, the SPD mostly leaves the escort services alone and focuses on the street, where the more desperate and coercive forms of prostitution take place.

Legalizing prostitution and introducing a modest amount of regulation would make this distinction easier to make.
Posted by seandr on February 22, 2013 at 5:02 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 50

Increase penalties for prostitution without a current license issued by the state. Licensure would require testing for HIV via RNA test every two weeks, testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia every 60 days, and testing for syphilis every 30 days. Testing for additional diseases will be required if a sex partner tests positive for them. Testing and treatment will be at the expense of the sex worker and conducted by the state. This is because the state can insure the quality of testing and accuracy of reporting while offering lower cost for service than a private provider could, based on the economies of scale. Free services will be provided for the destitute.

Condom usage will be mandatory, as will PreP. A sting revealing that a sex worker offers sex without a condom to an undercover cop will cost the sex worker their license.

The advantages of compliance include freedom from arrest for the charge of prostitution, the use of law enforcement to protect from potentially violent or otherwise dangerous johns, and a reduction in levels of STIs in the john population, therefore also in the sex worker population. Taxpayers benefit from reduced costs as well as a rolling back of the prison-industrial complex. Law enforcement benefits from the ability to build a trust-based relationship with sex workers, who will be able to pass on information that could be used in investigations-after all, who knows the intimate details of a person better than their sex partners?

Everyone wins.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on February 22, 2013 at 5:38 PM · Report this
I'm just here to say that it's kind of weaselly for Dominic to ask others to express their opinion on a subject without setting the example by telling us how he feels himself.

Come on, Dominic! It's like you're outsourcing your internal dialogue to Slog. You didn't even provide any links or try at all to set the arguments for either side. Charles gets criticized all the time, but at least he always tells us what he thinks.
Posted by floater on February 22, 2013 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Okay, fine. There's a link to a Tacoma News Tribune article as well as a cursory review of the main arguments. I was wrong about that. But it's all pretty brief and you don't take a stand either way - you don't go out on a limb - or explain why you're not. You just ask others to talk about it. That's what I'm griping about.
Posted by floater on February 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM · Report this
Lose-Lose 53
I've been seriously considering starting a national organization to normalize sex worker laws. The pros to legalizing prostitution far outweigh the cons; there are too many analogies of similar 'sinful activities' with glaring loopholes and exceptions (notably, alcohol, gambling, and drugs); the US has some of the strictest prostitution laws in the world, etc etc.

What gets me the most is:
1- The wasted resources busting "prostitution" (case in point: the Everett sexpresso stand bust in 2009. That is simply an embarrassment) instead, as others have pointed out, focusing on real crimes (human trafficking).
2- The one-sided nature of the debate: there is never a counter-argument in the press when it comes to prostitution. All johns are evil, all women are victims.
3- As a result of that void, press scandalize prostitution to outrageous levels. Did you hear the story about the town in Maine where an escort service was busted? WHO CARES. Most enragingly was the story the prof in NJ a few years ago who was busted for setting up an online site facilitating prostitution. The press thoroughly dragged him through the mud, listing the college he worked at, the school his kids went to, etc etc. Does it matter that all charges were dropped? Rapists and murderers rarely get that treatment.

And that's what's keeping me from developing this organization: US Society is extremely one-sided on the prostitution debate. But if I do decide to take that jump, the first on my to-do list is to consult with you and Dan!
Posted by Lose-Lose on February 22, 2013 at 6:25 PM · Report this
Lose-Lose 54
PS- most of the comments here have been pretty cliched, trite, unoriginal and lacking much thought into the subject aside from gut-reaction. I suggest people read "Paying for It" about one man's experience in prostitution (as a john) in Canada.
Posted by Lose-Lose on February 22, 2013 at 6:29 PM · Report this
@46: prices from areas where prostitution is legal and regulated punch a pretty big hole in your argument.

The (in)famous Amsterdam suck and fuck is 50 euros/15 minutes, which works out to 200 e/hour. (And having spent a lot of time observing with watch in hand, I can verify that the overwhelming number of guys are in and out in well under 15 -- 11 to 12 minutes is average.) Or, on par with what escorts throughout the US charge.

Similarly, in Germany, Austria and Australia. Prices seem to start in the range of about $200-250 an hour and go up from there.

@53: such orgs already exist: and they are testament to the validity of each of your points.
Posted by gnossos on February 22, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
julie russell 56
@55...those rates are low, as I suggested they would be. A high end sex worker in the NW gets 400-500/hr. Legalization/Regulation would significantly impact that.
Given that they are doing a job that 1) is dangerous on many levels 2)is viewed as morally reprehensible by much of society 3)isolates them from "normal life" on many levels, I say let them work and make good money doing it.
Posted by julie russell http:// on February 22, 2013 at 8:57 PM · Report this
No. Introducing money into the exchange of sexual favors introduces elements of coercion. Legalizing the exchange of money for sex condones it and will increase the rates at which people engage in such exchanges.

However, if it is illegal to sell sex, it should also be illegal to buy it. Arrest the prostitutes and you increase demand. Arrest the prostitutes' customers and you decrease demand by increasing associated risks. I'm not talking multi-year sentences; even a week in jail or a month of community service would make the customer have to explain why he or she was out of work that long.
Posted by DRF on February 22, 2013 at 10:45 PM · Report this
lark 58
I have that book. It is an excellent graphic comic book.
Posted by lark on February 22, 2013 at 11:03 PM · Report this
julie r @56: Three points:

First, sure some high end workers get $500/hr. But, what % do they represent of all workers? 1%, 2%? I'd be flabbergasted if it even rose to 5%. The problem is no one really knows, which is why previous comments about "the majority are x" are so ludicrous. Researching hidden populations is notoriously difficult and, by and large, the stuff that gets reported in the press or promoted by anti-legalization advocacy groups is horseshit

Two, a quick perusal of ads for high end escorts in a couple of European cities show prices of 350 -400 e/hr, which at today's exchange rate is $461-527/hr.

Third, I've never talked to a high end worker who wasn't in favor of legalization and I would tend to defer to an actual worker's position. (Granted, I could be suffering from massive selection bias because of my work, but still...)
Posted by gnossos on February 22, 2013 at 11:21 PM · Report this
@57 Hey good for you. You seem to be a particularly alert species of shit that understands that making something illegal that you disagree with means people will go to jail, although you seem to be completely on board with that, which makes you an especially noxious species of shit.

This is a fact that seems to be curiously absent from many discussions about civil liberties issues like prostitution and the drug war. Illegality means people go to jail. I kind of doubt that most of the enthusiasts for making things they find objectionable, that harm no one, illegal, have ever been to jail. Perhaps they should try it out and report back.

Let me repeat this in a slightly different form: Gown-ups do not require other grown-ups who imagine themselves to be somehow more morally enlightened to police their personal lives or whatever transactions they wish to engage in among themselves. Human trafficking is a crime. Rape and assault are crimes. This does not change by legalizing prostitution.
Posted by Rhizome on February 22, 2013 at 11:37 PM · Report this
@60: !! Yay. Very well said.
Posted by gnossos on February 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM · Report this
I've been strongly in favor of legalizing sex work for years
Posted by Tyro on February 23, 2013 at 2:16 AM · Report this
Every time I hear "prostitution causes abuse/human trafficking", I remember that these are the same people who swore on stacks of bibles that porn causes rape. Makes it easier to remember just how credible they are.
Posted by ChiTodd on February 23, 2013 at 8:02 AM · Report this
julie russell 64 might be right. If you would like to include some 4-5/ hr providers in your research, pm me. I will happily put you in touch w/ half a dozen Seattle area girls who have varying views on legalization.
I assume you posted about your study on a board like trb?? Most girls won't respond to such posts for fear of LE
Posted by julie russell http:// on February 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM · Report this
unionizedwhore 65
If you are going to talk about regulating my industry, maybe think about treating the occupants with respect and consult us first?
Maxine Doogan
Erotic Service Providers Union
Posted by unionizedwhore on February 23, 2013 at 11:31 AM · Report this
Here is a great link to a national geographic special on prostitution around the world. It looks at countries where it is legal and highly regulated (like Australia) and countries where it is not (like the US). The physcial safety of prostitutes increases while drug addiction rates, number of unwanted & unsafe pregnancies & abortions, as well std contraction all drop drastically when this is legal & heavily regulated. Sex workers provide a necessary service to society. And really, does it hurt you if joe-shmoe in XYZ, USA wants to hire a woman to sleep with him? No. It doesn't affect your life in anyway. So what's stopping us legalizing, regulating, and taxing this? Crazy, puritanical values and right wing nut jobs (the same people that oppose gay marriage and want to control my uterus). Anyways, there's my rant, check out the link, really good informative video.…
Posted by on February 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM · Report this
Lose-Lose 69
Here’s a proposal on how to legalize prostitution:

1- All sex workers register with the state/city. They pay a small fee annually or monthly. Their actual personal information is kept in confidentiality. Every sex worker -prostitute, escort, stripper- is given an ID card with her working name, unique ID number, and date of birth, and confirms that she is working on her own volition. The ID card may also include STD check-ups.

2- The sex worker lists her ID number on her ads and promotional matierals in the current locations (craigslist, web forums, backpages, etc). Any advertisement that does not include an ID# is subject to investigation for possible unauthorized (ie: underage, unconsentual sex worker).

3- She is allowed to work wherever she wants, the exception being streetwalking (unless local codes permit otherwise). In calls, out calls, clubs, brothels (again, if local codes allow; the Nevada model is not recommended). Her ID must be present and available for potential customers and authorities to see.

4- The city/state offer a $X,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of human traffickers and pimps of unlicensed sex slaves and underage workers. This promotes self-policing within the sex worker and john community.

5- The focus of law enforcement agencies is on underages and trafficked sex slaves and the people forcing them to work. (These are also treated differently than unlicensed sex workers). Police, preferably female, make spot-checks at clubs and working locations of sex workers to verify that they have current ID and are who they say they are: that they are working on their own volition, have not been trafficked, working under pressure of a pimp, or are underage. Police also use checks to maintain safety of prostitutes, that they have not been assaulted or threatened by johns.

This is just a draft, obviously. Now, what about getting it adopted?
Posted by Lose-Lose on February 24, 2013 at 6:13 PM · Report this
This is absurd. Paying for sex is not like paying for pot. Pot is a plant that grows in the earth, designed by the infinite and graceful forces of evolution. The same force that invented humanity invented the cannabis plant.

Prostitution is a cultural concept that grows in the minds of lonely and emotionally selfish men and women. Prostitution doesn't build families or communities but it does rob people of the closeness they require from intimate relations. Prostitution was designed by flawed capitalism, not evolution. The same capitalistic forces that put mediocre coffee on every corner intend to put mediocre sex workers on every corner and all you can do is cheer. Prostitution is an affront to progress and vigorous genetic mutations.

Terrible precedent to associate cannabis with prostitution, could undo a lot of hard work that cannabis advocates have clocked.
Posted by jim_rock on February 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM · Report this
@70: wat
Posted by clashfan on February 25, 2013 at 10:38 PM · Report this
Why would you legalize the selling of sex and further criminalize the buying of sex? That makes no sense. Legalize it and regulate it and allow sex pros to run their business like abusiness where the exchange is actually a contract of consent based on monetary exchange. Penalise "Exploitation practices" however not people whom would work in support position such as assistants/screeners. Allow Sex pros to create cooperatives and unions and set the market rate.

People purchase sex for a variety of reasons that have very little to do with shadyness. There are many awesome examples of people with disabilities engaging the the services of a sex worker and its beneficial.

If you want an example look to the Neatherlands which is pretty much run like the example I just made and the oversite committee is made up of 75% sex workers.

Contrary to the belief on of some of the people commenting. Men and women who have healthy backgrounds and healthy ideas of sex are in the industry and it is a job/business just like anything else. That is the standard not the exception.

Why is it we are ok with the comodification of everything else but when it comes to our private parts we are up in arms?
Posted by dlove on February 26, 2013 at 9:43 AM · Report this
"Introducing money into the exchange of sexual favors introduces elements of coercion"

That case could be made for ANYTHING you pay for or get paid for. Why is sex different?

Money is a physical manifestation of energy and I think a lot of people who have a distaste over the exchange of money for sex may also have a relationship with money that isn't so healthy and possible a relationship with sex that isn't so healthy either.

Capitalism did not create prostitution. Prostitution has been around for EVER.

There are so many positive application to being able to pay for and give sex for money. I am a woman and a hands on learner... lol.. I am happy to pay for an authority on sex to teach me some extra ropes to keep my sex life spicy and engaged. There are many healing application as well.
Posted by dlove on February 26, 2013 at 9:56 AM · Report this
Observations from numerous perspectives:

1) Evolutionary/Biological:
Prostitution is not a byproduct of our social, economic, or cultural systems rather its a biological need. As such, species do what is necessary to meet their sexual/procreative needs. Further, it's very evident in other primates that the following exist: masterbation, rape, and prostitution. That's correct, it's been observed amoung our relatives in the animal world that women primates trade sexual intercourse for bananas.

2) Social & Economical
Many of the social and economical arguments have been made above. Overall, it makes far more sense to allow people to do with their bodies as they wish in an mutually agreed upon fashion. Legalization and the correct regulation prove to be the most common sense approach to an activity that is older than hamanity itself.

3) Cultural & Personal
It's obvious that prostituon has a negative connotation. Your selling yourself for money, however in today's society this is the norm. Most employees are doing just that. In retrospect, some men and women may prefer performing a sex act that takes 30min instead of working a job they dread for 40hrs -others would prefer the 40hrs. Attitudes about sex vary widely among the population and as a free society it is up to us to allow and promote that an individual act according to their own morality as long as it harms no one.

4) Coercion
Prostitution can be quite corrosive, demeaning, dangerous, and dirty. However, so can seduction.
Seduction in its own way can be far more corrosive and exploitive than prostitution. In prostition there is a degree of honesty and a direct transaction that often doesn't exist in seduction.

5) Human Trafficing & Pimps
Part of the reason trafficking is on the rise is because traffickers are so difficult to catch. It is difficult to tell if a sex worker is there by choice or force. Both possibilities exist and unless a woman comes forward and pin point her pimp, they are almost impossible to catch. What is worse is that the penalties are minor.

Drug dealing has both higher penalties and higher probability of getting caught. Often times, the only service a pimp offers a worker is that he can protect her from a bad John and make sure she gets paid. Bring alone in this world can be scary and a pimp provides a level of protection. Ironically a pimp uses both seduction and intimidation to keep his girls both working and silent.


1) Legalize prostition

2) Mandatory registration of all sex workers:
a) must have valid USA ID or a Prostituion VISA
b) fingerprint taken -background check
c) interview: must interview to insure that she is not being trafficked

3) Regular Health Checks
a) monthly
b) random check interviews
C) mandatory condom usage

4) Taxes & Fees
a) fees for all of the above
b) tax it like alcoholics & cigs

5) Brothel
a) must work in a licenced & approved brothel
- no street walking
b) after 1year in industry may do outcall

6) Legal Penalties
a) working without a license: felony 1yr in prison
b) pimping: felony 10-15yrs in prison
c) johns: soliciting a non-licensed sex worker: 1yr prison
d) human trafficking: minimum 15-30 yrs in prison

I think this solves the whole issue. Underground traffickers face stiff penalties and so do johns who use their services. Must be licensed, screened, tested, taxed and tracked. Makes it 1000x harder to traffic, control, pimp, extort women/men and decreases economical incentive -more competition- while increasing risk & consequences -getting caught.

Posted by Mike1234 on May 20, 2013 at 3:06 AM · Report this

1) Legalize prostition

2) Mandatory registration of all sex workers:
a) must have valid USA ID or a Prostituion VISA
b) fingerprint taken -background check
c) interview: must interview to insure that she is not being trafficked

3) Regular Health Checks
a) monthly
b) random check interviews
C) mandatory condom usage

4) Taxes & Fees
a) fees for all of the above
b) tax it like alcoholics & cigs

5) Brothel
a) must work in a licenced & approved brothel
- no street walking
b) after 1year in industry may do outcall

6) Legal Penalties
a) working without a license: felony 1yr in prison
b) pimping: felony 10-15yrs in prison
c) johns: soliciting a non-licensed sex worker: 1yr prison
d) human trafficking: minimum 15-30 yrs in prison

I think this solves the whole issue. Underground traffickers face stiff penalties and so do johns who use their services. Must be licensed, screened, tested, taxed and tracked. Makes it 1000x harder to traffic, control, pimp, extort women/men and decreases economical incentive -more competition- while increasing risk & consequences -getting caught.
Posted by Mike1234 on May 20, 2013 at 3:10 AM · Report this
Prostitution among animals:…

Maybe we should outlaw this as well...
Posted by Mike1234 on May 20, 2013 at 3:23 AM · Report this
In surveying all the comments here I have to note that nobody mentions Nevada just almost next door. Also nobody admits that they have patronized a prostitute.

I have all over the world - in the last 30 years in Nevada, New York, Amsterdam, Prague, London, Tokyo, Vladivostok, Sydney, Bangkok, Macao. I have to say that the quality was the best in Amsterdam and Prague 1989 and the worst was in New York.

If you go to Nevada check out a 30-year old book called at'"Best Cathouses in Nevada" that's out of print and head for the Golden Triangle in Lyon County outside of Carson City. Good quality, decent prices, weekly health checks it's all good.

There probably isn't anything like 1989 in Czech, Russia but maybe Ukraine Brazil and Dominican Republic (according to an Italian friend from Roma) come close-

I testified in the Tokyo High Court in 1990 about the relationship between prostitution and printing for a client who printed up flyers for the yakuza. I beat it based in a comparison with Nevada and the UK where the model is regulatory rather than prohibitory (as in the US due to our screwed up Puritan guilt-ridden Judeo-Christian ethic. I got a bottle of Suntory Reserve twice a year for 10 years for that client.

Just a side note for anyone who goes or has gone to Tokyo. The age of consent is 13 ( because of the geisha "maiko" tradition) so there's a lot of schoolgirl prostitution.

You might wonder about the ads. Selling sex as an independent person is legal but what is illegal is pimping, promoting, maintaining a brothel, and living off the earnings - just like the 1956 Street Offences Act. In fact when Japan closed the red-light districts like the Yoshiwara in 1957 they modeled the law on the UK law.

But get this - after my case the flyers started printing the words "anal sex only" and in Japanese " this is not an advertisement for spring rain" - a euphenism ( sorry spelling) for natural sex.

Why did they do this? I asked my partner and he said that is not prostitution it is only natural sex.

Ask a Japanese lawyer sometime- the fact is that when the Japanese enacted the anti-prostitution law in 1957 they were very careful to make the act you could not promote etc. "seiko" - different kanji from the watch - which specifically refers only to heterosexual coitus - in other words everything else is totally legal as "unnatural sex".

So when I formed my own company in addition to consulting, restaurant, nightclub, translation I included the words "unnatural sex club".

Of course that puts a lot of discretion with the cops - sort of like Casablanca.

"I'm shocked! There's natural sex going on here! Thank you and now you're busted!"

What a great country - at least for sex.
Posted by ananda on December 18, 2014 at 8:11 PM · Report this

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