New Internationalist

Argument: Should prostitution be legalized?

April 2013

Human rights lawyer Dianne Post and writer and filmmaker Bishakha Datta go head-to-head.


Legalized prostitution cannot exist alongside the true equality of women. The idea that one group of women should be available for men’s sexual access is founded on structural inequality by gender, class and race. Moreover, it is a violation of international law. In fact, failure to challenge legalized prostitution undermines every human rights norm mandating the dignity of the person and equality for all. As Melissa Farley says, ‘Decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution would normalize and regulate practices which are human rights violations, and which in any other context would be legally actionable (sexual harassment, physical assault, rape, captivity, economic coercion or emotionally damaging verbal abuse).’

Dianne Post is an international human rights attorney who spent 18 years representing battered women and children in family law, but since 1998 has been working internationally in 19 countries on genderbased violence. She is based in Phoenix, Arizona.

In Sweden, prostitution is officially acknowledged as violence against women and a tool of oppression. ‘Legalization of prostitution means that the state imposes regulations with which they can control one class of women as prostituted’ (Gunilla Ekberg). Prostitution is not only individual discrimination, exploitation or abuse by an individual man, but also a structure reflecting and maintaining inequality between men and women. It requires ‘a devalued class of women… Prostitution is colonization of women.’ (Gunilla Ekberg) Legalization gives approval to violence, control and devaluation. When violence is directed at half the world’s population – women – it undermines the entire structure of human rights. The Swedish model calls for no arrests of women, no blaming of the victim, no use of the criminal justice system to control women, but appropriate use of the state system to control violence against women.


BISHAKHA DATTA is a writer and filmmaker based in India. Her most recent book is 9 Degrees of Justice, a collection of essays on struggles against violence on women in India. Her most recent documentaries include In The Flesh: Three Lives In Prostitution. Bishakha is the executive director of Point of View, a Mumbai non-profit that promotes women’s viewpoints through media, art and culture.

I see it somewhat differently. Individuals have sex for a wide range of reasons – for fun and pleasure, to have children, to mark and deepen intimacy, out of duty, to earn a living or for other transactional purposes. It is wholly legitimate for adults to have sex for any, some or all of these reasons, which sometimes overlap.

This is particularly striking in the Indian context, where I come from and where poverty is widespread. In 2010, the World Bank stated that 68.7 per cent of people in India live on less than $2 per day.1 We’re talking about more than 600 million people struggling to find a way to eat two square meals a day.

Some of them turn to sex work just as others turn to other badly paid forms of informal labour – domestic work, construction work, farm labour and so on. All these livelihood options are based on using one or more parts of one’s body. We legally accept individuals using their heads and hands and other body parts to earn a living and must do so in the case of sex workers too.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) accepted adult sex work as work in a groundbreaking 1998 report2 and called for its global recognition as a legitimate form of work. All other forms of informal labour are legally recognized as ‘work’ – it is high time that adult sex work also got this legal recognition, which is long overdue.


We need to listen to the voices of the women. In a five-country survey, over 90 per cent said they wanted to escape prostitution immediately. Nearly 70 per cent of prostituted women meet the criteria for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and they constitute 15 per cent of all completed suicides. A Canadian report on prostitution and pornography concluded that girls and women in prostitution have a mortality rate 40 times higher than the national average. The average life span for a woman after entering prostitution is four years, with 50 per cent of the deaths due to murder. 

In dangerous jobs, we fight to eliminate harmful conditions so people can work in safety. The danger cannot be removed in prostitution because the act of prostitution is the harm – Dianne

The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 or 14 years of age. Children learn very young that their body does not belong to them but to others with power and money. In Canada, 70 per cent of prostituted women are indigenous, despite those communities making up only seven per cent of the population. It’s colonialism writ small on their bodies.

In dangerous jobs, we normally fight to eliminate harmful conditions so people can work in safety and with respect. The danger cannot be removed in prostitution because the act of prostitution is the harm. Women in prostitution tell us clearly they want the same options in life that others have: a decent job, safe housing, medical care and psychological counselling. We need exit strategies that include drug treatment, education, training, housing and other support. The answer is to demand equality and equitable distribution of resources. 


I completely agree that we should listen to the voices of women in sex work. And here’s what these voices are saying: in the first pan-India survey of 3,000 sex workers, about 71 per cent said they had entered sex work willingly. Many of these women, who are not organized, said they left other occupations because of low pay or the absence of regular work.3

The researchers say: ‘For those coming to sex work from other labour markets, they have often experienced equally harsh (or worse) conditions of highly labour-intensive work for much lower incomes. It is from these background cases that the significance of sex work as a site of higher incomes or livelihoods emerges.’4

When adult women say sex work is a form of livelihood or commerce rather than coercion, we need to put aside our discomforts and listen to them. When these women say that the harm in sex work comes not from the act of selling sex, but from the stigma and violence surrounding it because of its illegal and hidden nature, we must hear them.

When women say the harm in sex work comes not from the act of selling sex, but from the stigma and violence surrounding it because of its illegal nature, we must hear them – Bishakha

All over the world, women in sex work are demanding that adult sex work be decriminalized and that they be given rights, respect and recognition. That they be given the right to vote and access health services without stigma, that the cops do not harass them, that their complaints of violence be recorded. That they be given the right to be human, like anyone else.


I believe that the answer to poor jobs, low pay and harsh working conditions for women is not to consign them to a lifetime of abuse, but to fight for all women to have adequate education for decent jobs and for all people to have decent working conditions. 

Prostitution is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. The problem is patriarchy, inequality, discrimination, inequitable distribution of resources, religious control and fear of women. We need to turn our focus from the symptom to the underlying problem. We can and must do better for women. We need to join hands and together face the real enemy.

The focus on stopping demand is one method that is gaining traction and has been proven successful. Equalizing political power is another approach. In countries where women have a higher percentage of political power, violence against women is lower. Boys must be raised differently. The White Ribbon campaign in Canada and a similar campaign in Mexico are bringing the message to men worldwide. Child sexual abuse and incest in the family and institutions like the church, sports clubs and the Boy Scouts must be eradicated.

‘Prostitution isn’t like anything else. Rather, everything else is like prostitution because it is the model for women’s condition’ (Evelina Giobbe, 1992). If we believe in a world where human rights reign and women and men share equal power and dignity, we cannot legalize prostitution and maintain structural inequality founded on gender, class and race.


I fully agree that all human beings should be entitled to decent work, not in the sense of morality, but in the sense of decent working conditions. As Richard Howard of the ILO recently asked: ‘Why is sex work not decent work?’ His answer: ‘I think criminalization is a key barrier that we face along with misinterpretation of religious doctrine and discrimination.’5

In Sweden, it is a crime to buy sex and this has adversely affected street sex workers. As one report says: ‘Swedish street prostitutes experience a tougher time. They are more frequently exposed to dangerous clients, while the serious clients are afraid of being arrested… They have less time to assess the client as the deal takes place very hurriedly due to fear on the part of the client… If the client demands unprotected sex, many of the prostitutes cannot afford to say no. Harassment by the police has increased and the clients no longer provide tip-offs about pimps, for fear of being arrested themselves.’6

In New Zealand/Aotearoa on the other hand, adult sex work is decriminalized. Without making it sound too rosy, removing the ‘criminal’ label does make it possible for sex workers to access rights and services. Removing this label makes it possible for a sex worker to complain to the police if she is raped. It makes it possible to get health services, like any other citizen. It seems such an obvious – and just – course of action from a human rights perspective that I just can’t understand why sex work has still not been decriminalized everywhere.


  2. The Sex Sector: The economic and social bases of prostitution in Southeast Asia edited by Lin Lean Lim, International Labour Office, Geneva, 1998.

  3. Nivedita Menon, Seeing Like A Feminist, Zubaan, Penguin 2012

  4. Rohini Sahni and V Kalyan Shankar, The First Pan-India Survey of Sex Workers: Preliminary Findings

  5. ‘The Oldest Profession: Is Sex Work Work?’ 26 July 2012 panel at International AIDS Conference, Washington DC

  6. ‘The Swedish Sex Purchase Act: Claimed Success and Documented Effect’, by Susanne Dodillet and Petra Oestergren. Conference paper presented at the international workshop Decriminalizing Prostitution and Beyond: Practical Experiences and Challenges. The Hague, 3-4 March 2011.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 461 This feature was published in the April 2013 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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  1. #1 retsina 22 Mar 13

    <q>We need to listen to the voices of the women.</q>

    Let's also not forget that not all sex workers are women.

    Patriarchy exists in all sorts of relationships, not just sexual ones and not just relationships based on exchange of money.

  2. #4 Norma Jean Almodovar 23 Mar 13

    There is nothing in life that is 'safe'- not childhood, not dating, not marriage, not jobs- nothing. There are some things which are more dangerous than others- such as working in law enforcement, driving a taxi, joining the military (where there are an estimated 19,000 rapes occurring between enlisted personnel each year, not to mention the potential for being killed in the line of duty), being married or in a relationship (the US government estimates there are over 12 MILLION incidents of intimate partner violence and 1 MILLION intimate partner rapes annually). Being a college student isn't any safer- according to a 2012 Statistical Analysis report from the FBI Bureau of Criminal Statistics, in 2006, there were 673,000 female college students raped.

    Also from the FBI Bureau of Criminal Statistics, over a 20 year period- from 1991 to 2010, there were 5,319,726 REPORTED violent rapes and sexual assaults, for which law enforcement agents managed to arrest a mere 601,745 alleged rapists- or a pathetic 11.3%. Not included in these statistics are the UNREPORTED violent rapes and sexual assaults. On the other hand, in that same time period, cops did arrest 1,782,741 adults for engaging in consensual adult commercial sex.

  3. #5 Norma Jean Almodovar 23 Mar 13

    Prostitution laws were and always have been arbitrarily and selectively enforced, leading to abuse, rape and extortion of suspected prostitutes by law enforcement agents. And when a prostitute doesn't 'cooperate' and gets arrested, there is a likelihood that the arrested prostitute will be raped in prison by the corrections officer.

    There are many, many jobs held by the desperate and poor (usually one and the same) which others may consider demeaning and degrading, and undoubtedly those who toil in menial occupations earning minimum wage in unsafe working conditions would happily leave those jobs IMMEDIATELY if they had the skills and education to do so. Domestic servitude comes to mind, where the servant is expected to clean up the urine, feces and vomit of strangers in low and high end hotels and motels and where the risk of being raped by a drunken male hotel/ motel guest is quite high. Even when the guest isn't drunk and the hotel is a very expensive one, catering to the internationally wealthy and powerful like Dominique Strauss- Kahn.

    Despite laws which forbid sexual harassment, many women in low paying jobs are economically coerced to remain in those jobs in silence or risk losing what little income they have to take care of their families. There is no law requiring that one 'love' or even 'like' their job in order to maintain their employment.

    When women (prostitution abolitionists) like Dianne Post postulate that 'prostitution is inherently harmful to women' yet ignore those women (and men) who are actually harmed by being raped, beaten by their spouse or lover, or who are forced into jobs they hate with every fiber of their being, and these prostitution abolitionists insist on making demonstrably false claims about sex work and sex workers, it is clear to see that they do not care for our well being whatsoever. All they care about is imposing their ideological agenda on those of us who, as adults, willingly and in many cases, happily CHOOSE to sell the sexual services we could otherwise legally GIVE away, because, in their arrogant, patronizing, condescending, self-serving (but never humble) and highly offensive opinion, bringing pleasure to other human beings- ESPECIALLY males, we are being damaged and are in need of rescue.

  4. #6 Norma Jean Almodovar 23 Mar 13

    These same women (except or of course the religious conservative abolitionists) support a woman's right to an abortion, hypocritically proclaiming that when it comes to reproductive rights, it is ’my body, my choice’- while telling other adult women that our bodies apparently belong to THEM, and only THEY, in their infinite wisdom, can make choices for us.

    Whether or not a sex worker (and NO, you may NOT call us 'prostituted' women) wants to move on to some other type of labor or decides that sex work is a better choice for us than cleaning toilets or flipping burgers, the bottom line remains this: by the continued criminalization of any aspect of consenting adult commercial sex- including the asinine proposal to criminalize our non violent, non abusive clients, employers or associates- harms everyone. Victims of rape go without justice as do victims of domestic violence, victims of robbery and any and all other crimes against persons- are harmed because the scarce and valuable law enforcement resources are squandered - being just being 'wasted'- in order to satisfy those whose opinion of themselves is highly and unmeritoriously overrated. Nowhere in their documentable actions is there one iota of real concern for all those who truly are victims.

    It is purely a hatred of men and of those of us who exploit man's nature by offering our sexual services to men (and women and couples) for a fee that drives their ideology and determination to disallow adult women the right to exploit our own bodies for financial gain. And women like you just hate it that you cannot convince us po' ignorant hos' that we are the ones being exploited and need rescuing. You cannot convince us of our alleged victimhood, so you attempt to force us into submission by whatever means necessary, even if it means that some of us must be sacrificed (by being arrested or raped and extorted by cops, or murdered by those who take your word at face value- and want to help you rid the world of whores) for the 'greater good,' which is your desire to eliminate all commercial sex, images of sex and the suppression of our sexuality. Like all of your prostitution abolitionist cronies, you are a fraud. You have no concept of what 'human rights' are- because you are so wiling to violate our rights as competent adults in the name of your moral/ social crusade.

    Consenting adult prostitution must be decriminalized for the sake of all women- for the sake of our health, for the sake of a society in which cops must not be given laws with which to extort sexual favors from us- and women MUST be allowed to make choices for themselves, even if you believe it isn't a choice, and even if our choice offends you. We promise, if we want your help and wish to be rescued, we know how to use phones AND the internet- and we will call you.

  5. #7 Jackie 23 Mar 13

    I am a Canadian Metis woman who was sexually abused in my home, and my community growing up. I was later prostituted. My story is no different from so many of my brown sisters. We, as native women live under a siege of sexual terror in Canada. We are being hunted down, raped and killed while the rest of the world watches. I can't believe the naivety of one of the speakers who likens sexualized ’for sale’ body parts to any other form of labour. It is not. It is human degradation and sexual humiliation at its very worst. It is not poverty which drives prostitution. Male sexual demand is its driver. Native women, in Canada, do not want to prostitution for themselves, or for future generations of our women and girls. We want sexual autonomy, and freedom to live without fear of being sexually predated and killed.

  6. #8 Timmy 24 Mar 13

    I believe legalization of prostitution would be of a benefit to both the ’system’ and the women involved. Legalization would in it's self be a way out of the controlling interests of criminals.
    While it unfortunate that both sexes are abused, this in itself is not related to prostitution.
    Illegal prostitution can be forced onto drug addicts, the poor and the low self worth groups.
    Illegal prostitution can also be a choice when a poorly educated person has to weigh the benefits of various available incomes.
    Legal prostitution can provide a tax revenue that can be used for education, medical treatment, drug rehab and personality building. Not to mention the protection of law against criminals.

  7. #9 Violet Ivy 27 Mar 13

    The legalisation of prostitution in Australia is the best thing that could happen to workers.
    We have regular, free medical checks to protect both us and the clients. We can go to the police if there is any issue whatsoever and so can the client. We can work from home/motel/hotel rooms/brothels or as an escort depending on the laws of each state. We pay tax.
    Do not fear pimps or the police. The only time you see the cop shop with the girl in the mini-sparkly dress, covered in tattoos, swearing, on drugs with a fag hanging out of
    her mouth is in American movies.
    Legalise it. Allow women to decide for themselves what they want to do with their bodies. It should be an individual's right to choose.
    Violet Ivy, Author, Lucky Girl - How I Survived the Sex Industry

  8. #10 Far 28 Mar 13

    From a human rights point of view most people would say prostitution, violates true equality of women. What new ideas haven't we tried to end it once and for all? I think we should find out what medications and what program like AA works for sex addiction to include porn, strip clubs, prostitutes and anything else and do public service ads on TV, Radio, and Print and Internet. That women and men are being taken advantage by their sexual nature, but better then that. That would mean keeping all sexual free speed illegal. The only other thing would be is life in prison.

  9. #11 Iamcuriousblue 28 Mar 13

    I would like to point out to Diane Post that repeating claims from the so-called ’studies’ of Melissa Farley is not in any way ’listening to the voices of the women’, but rather listening to the voice of a disreputable, biased, and unethical ’researcher’ who's studies have been criticized for years now for their myriad methodological flaws, flaws that are so strong that they basically invalidate the claims based on those studies. There is very good reason the Canadian courts have openly stated that they place low value on her ’expert’ testimony in the Bedford case concerning decriminalization of prostitution in that country.

  10. #12 Just Me 28 Mar 13

    I am one of your so called ’prostitutes, I am an companion. I have never been a victim of domestic violence, been pimped, or trafficked. I live a normal & healthy life, I am drug and disease free. My work enables me to provide for myself and my children. I am able to pay a mortgage, my children's school tuition, own my own car and pay my self employment taxes. The police constantly terrorize women like me even though they know we aren't selling or using drugs, being trafficked or pimped. I am self sufficient more so than some others my age. What is Americas problem with women like me? Keep church and state separate, what goes on between two consenting adults isn't anyone's business.

  11. #13 Xavier 29 Mar 13

    ’The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 or 14 years of age.’

    Utter tripe. Nothing but false dishonest scaremongering.

    As Brooke Magnanti pointed out:
    ’I became a call girl at the age of 27. For every one of me, to arrive at an average of 13, you'd need someone aged minus one. Or five 10 year-olds. Or ten 12 year-olds.’

    If that were the case there would literally be hundreds of thousands of child prostitutes in the UK (and there is no way that would go unnoticed).

    I notice Dianne has quoted Melissa Farley- whose ’research’ on sex work was thrown out by the Canadian courts as uncredible, and she has a page of sick rape jokes on her website.

  12. #14 Far 29 Mar 13

    As a male trying to figure out why people view prostitution as a crime I think it is they feel maturing sexually with out the walls of love damages sex. They want to control how women are treated. Even porn can give believe that demonizing women is the object of sex.

  13. #15 Jess Oakenstar 01 Apr 13

    Reading these two points of view has given me much to think about. Thank you to both contributors.

  14. #16 Jess Oakenstar 01 Apr 13

    As an addendum to my earlier comment - whilst I cannot add anything more enlightening to the mix about the topic, I do feel impelled to reply to Norma Jean Almodovar when she says, ’When women (prostitution abolitionists) like Dianne Post postulate that 'prostitution is inherently harmful to women' yet ignore those women (and men) who are actually harmed by being raped, beaten by their spouse or is clear to see that they do not care for our well being whatsoever.’ Nothing could be further from the truth about Dianne Post. She has worked long and tirelessly, very often for no financial remuneration, for women and children involved in violent and sexually abusive situations. Many, many clients, upon meeting up with her years later, tell her, ’You saved my/my daughter's life.’ She works with women locally in our city who are involved in prostitution (or the sex trade, depending on how you describe it), and I know she describes what she has learned from them. I guess we all hold different positions on this - how could that not be the case? But one thing I know for sure - Dianne Post is one of the most caring and dedicated people I have ever known.

  15. #17 shreya 03 Apr 13

    Prostitution must not be legalised as majority of these girls are victims of trafficking and legalising will only add to the existing problem. More girls will be forced and threatened into prostitution regardless their will.

  16. #18 Eleanor Sonnenberg 04 Apr 13

    Our organisation works with prostituted women. They all say that because of poverty, sexual abuse, unemployment they entered into prostitution.

    Without the political, social and economic support women find it difficult to exit prostitution. The trauma experienced by these individuals is akin to post truamatic stress disorder.

    Therefore it begs the question who would knowingly enter into a job that is inherently violent and dangerous and say they enjoy what they do. It is a misnomer to say women choose this line of ’work’ it is only because they do not have alternative choices that they find themselves trapped in what is now globally becoming known as ’work’ In South Africa our Constitution guarentees protection against all forms of violence both publicly and privately.

    Our Sexual Offences Act32 of 2007 criminalises prostitution.
    As an organisation we believe that the purchase of sexual services should be criminalised and that the seller should be afforded the opportunity to exit and in this way retrieve their dignity and right to equality and security of person.

  17. #19 John Adams 05 Apr 13

    I believe that prostitution is legal in Britain. One sees advertisements in newspapers and shop windows for so-called ’massage’. The police do not prosecute the newspaper owners or shopkeepers, so it must be legal.

  18. #20 David Baldwin 09 Apr 13

    I am entirely in support of Dianne Post when she says ’we must turn our focus from the symptom to the underlying problem’. Please--go fix the problem then, and for pity's sake leave these poor women alone. If they are coerced, how does it possibly help them to make them criminals as well as victims? If it is a choice, who are we to second guess? If farm labor conditions are exploitative and unsafe, you don't outlaw farm labor--you make it illegal to do bad things to farm laborers.

  19. #21 Deepak 13 Apr 13

    IMHO, the aspect of male prostitution should have been addressed as well, in order to make this debate more complete. Would they not also benefit if prostitution were to be decriminalized?

    Sex work if indeed considered work has to be considered as a profession that is open to both genders. Thereafter market forces should regulate the supply with respect to demand.

  20. #22 jacqueline gordon 26 Apr 13

    I would suggest you all read this article from the Guardian written on Monday 22.04.2013 for a reality check. For those with little time, here is an extract:-

    ’The UK is considered fertile ground for traffickers. Police admit there is little scrutiny of the off-street sex industry, and that detecting the crime is difficult and costly. A report by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), published in 2010, revealed that at the very minimum, 2,600 women were confirmed to have been trafficked into England and Wales and forced to work as prostitutes, and that an additional 9,200 women in brothels and other premises were considered to be ’vulnerable migrants’ who had possibly been trafficked. There are an estimated 5,890 brothels in England and Wales.’

    I agree with Dianne Post. We need to fight against gender based violence by promoting education, healthcare etc. and we need to continue fighting for COMPLETE equality of the sexes so that selling your body for sex doesn't even exist as an option for any human being. Does that sound like science fiction ? No, it's just that mankind is still living in the dark ages when it comes to human relationships and human rights.

  21. #25 Madi Jobarteh 07 May 13

    While the all debaters seem quite convincing, I still think sex should not be for sale, and prostitution cannot be equated with football or farming where an individual uses a part(s) of his or her body to sell his or her labour. Footballers use their legs, heads, hands, etc to play football and are paid millions of dollars. Doctors use their brains, eyes, hands and nose (i guess) to offer services and get paid well. Same goes for many other trades. But Prostitution is a situation where a woman sells a part of her body to a man for the satisfaction of the man, regardless of the enjoyment derived by the woman. And what are the rates for prostitution? Can they be paid milions of dollars? More importantly, can a renown prostitution stand for president or parliamentarian or become a chancellor of a university in her country on accont of her knowledge, skills and experience as a prostitute? Can you list Sex Work in your CV and cite it in a job interview? So prostitution is different from other forms of labour. This is my take.

  22. #26 disorderedworld 28 May 13

    A recent study by Rachael Pierotti of the University of Michigan looked at the attitudes of women in 26 different countries toward domestic violence. Across a range of countries, including India, Kenya and Jordan, more than 50% of the women surveyed accepted that their husbands had a right to beat them. In Ethopia, over 80% of women accepted this. It is not surprising then that some women who work in the sex trade will argue in favour of it, particularly when their livelihood and the well being of their children depend on it. The minority who freely choose prostitution however should not blind us to the enormity of evil that occurs in sex trafficking and forced prostitution. To my mind the criminalisation of clients is justified in order to address the enormous human suffering that the sex trade represents.

  23. #27 Freethinking atheist 05 Jun 13

    Norma Jean Almodovar: you are the most enlightened, erudite person I have ever had the pleasure to read on the subject of legalization of prostitution. Why aren't you in politics?!
    The arguments above are feeble and in parts risible. Having used sex workers most of my life, I yearn for legalization. Not because of any intrinsic benefit to me - I love the girls I meet and treat them respectfully - but because of the safety and security that legalization would bring to them.
    All the men I know who use prostitutes - honourable and respectful gentlemen - would welcome the same thing. Enlightened societies that tolerate prostitution see lower rates of sex crimes and physical abuse towards women.
    I congratulate you once more on your responses and hope you live a healthy and profitable life.

  24. #29 HOWARD SAQUI 21 Jun 13

    prostitution must be legalized, it will never never go away. 2013 now how long has this been with us???,

  25. #30 CETVIES 05 Jul 13

    My ulti-mate problem with prostitution would have to philosophise with pimps or women that argue that it is great to have sex for money. And I will be waiting the day where this is actually asked everywhere. Where rape is not even named like this as it is normal to count as job sexual excitation, while every one knows that sexuality ill controlled is one of the most mythics nerve of our problems and perversions. Why not have sex all day? It would just mean that we need slavery to replace our will to be decent citizens and husbandry.

    Prostitution the problem. Even more if the wit of prostitution invades all profession. To be honest, in between us, the prostitutes do not have to be much more or have to be more ashamed that the rest of us, if you allow my protestation.
    How come in a society do we need sex.
    Because of the lack of money, or because of its luxury and abundance.
    Because of unemployment and because sex would not say to have a homo or hetero relation, from fling to marriage, but with real intention of affection and personal and intimate links that we all need to be complete (not the porn that make us just derelict to all morals in all their poisoning, poise, position and situation)
    A little bit like these scientists that prove that there is no problem vis a vis environments.
    I mean to like it = say you like it, are you paid? You cannot stop it.
    Cannot(e) to stop it.

    Worth or value…for money.
    The name of the corruption that make argument with croked police, rootening politician, etc, an endless victory for the spiritless whose policies are the profit via the diminishment of individual and others potentiality not the opposite.

    Also for general knowledge, I think that in the U.K prostitutes are not sued but someone who solicite prostitution would be.
    And yes, why not ask everyone as a primary requirements and that would be the death of all professions.
    Also as for arguing and police, pledge and philosophize about the legalisation of prostitution, I have been studing in a UK university where profs, feam females, feminist self proclaimed, talk about it as being ok, inve inevital inevitable, the older profession, etc, all for pornography, etc.
    And of that I am deeply ashamed, that it would have been dangerous for me to voice my revulsion before women with big salaries for being pseudo intellectuals. To argue for prostitution that are stll the danger hand hanging for their own students while producing papers not denouncing, but sole acknowledgment of pros promiscuity and prostitution system welcoming.

  26. #31 Vinay 11 Jul 13

    I find it essential to note that it is not just about women in sex work. Men and TGs in sex work also need the same protection. I fully agree with Bishakha. Who says decriminalizing would stop us from demanding, other jobs, better pays, good housing and access to care? Child abuse, rapes etc are manifestations which need to be abolished, but the best way would be through legalization.

  27. #32 venkatesh bubberjung 11 Jul 13

    Presenting the argument that sex work is harmful to woman and a human right violation stems from the deep rooted belief of it being 'sin'. Bisakha is right in the sense that what needs is decriminalisation of sex work.

    There is greater difference in 'legalisation' and decriminalisation. I have been providing legal advise and litigation support to sex workers on probono basis in southern India and we have formed a Sex Workers' Union ( trade union ) and during my interaction with the sex workers, many of them have said that they entered into sex work by choice and not compulsion. In hundreds of interventions that I have made among sex workers among women,men, LGBTQ, most are implications by the police and other authorities who frame cases, even though the law doesn't specifically prohibit sex work. These sex workers are vulnerable to such prosecution and many a time are compelled to do 'free work' for those who secure them the bail be it police, pimp, hotel owner or such other person. Decriminalisation is the only way. It is very uncivil civil society that thinks of 'legalising' or 'criminalising' sex work.

    Sex Work is as decent as any other work/avocation/employment/trade. There is crying need that we need to change our attitude to the same. Any law that provides 'support' 'rehabilitation', we have seen in greater part of developing countries like India is by and large has made life more difficult to sex workers.

    By legalisation, we are introducing a mechanism of law, control, regulatory authority,that are tools of oppression against sex workers. That is also unacceptable as it is clear discrimination compared to other employment/avocation where one need not secure such a 'permission' or 'considered safe'.

    Decriminalisation is the only way forward. Sex work is decent work.

  28. #33 Florence Jasmine David 15 Jul 13

    It is a basic issue of survival for some while for some others it is anything from pleasure to pain the other women out of vengeance and many more reason.Legal or illegal the issue cannot and should not be void of involving the men. As the issue involves two and the men are always left out of punishment it is such an injustice acknowledged by all the systems in all countries.

  29. #34 Ethan Vanderbuilt 26 Aug 13

    There is really no logical reason to legalize prostitution. The legalization of prostitution will increase the availability of prostitutes and lower the cost of their services. This would then increase demand, drawing even more under aged girls and boys into prostitution. As a society we have an obligation to try and limit the amount of people involved in a job that is basically sexual assault for money.

  30. #35 Russell 02 Sep 13

    I've got a strong aversion to this whole business. I am a man who is well disposed towards women, and gender equality. I like the way women think, the way they live their lives, and I don't like the way they are disadvantaged in so many ways in society. Artificial limits on opportunities, promotion, equal pay, and discrimination are all issues that I feel very strongly about, and I support those kinds of women's causes to the maximum of my capability. However I don't like manipulative people at all, and that applies to manipulative women as well. Some women are very crafty in the ways in which they use their gender to unfair advantage, in a similar way to men who have positions of power and use that to disadvantage women. Neither is acceptable. For me, prostitution is the ultimate expression of that kind of female manipulation. Some men become deprived of affection, intimacy etc, they become isolated, and these ruthless women move in and cash in on their misery. Not just cash in but charge truly exorbitant fees for what is normal social interaction. That is every bit as bad as male domination and subjugation of women and denying them their rights. In fact when you look at it closely it's sometimes worse. So for me, in a modern, just society, prostitution and all the activities associated with it has no place at all. It is an utter anachronism, and the majority of people who support it are those that profit handsomely from it, and/or those who use it to deceive their families, neither which has any merit. I find these activities revolting in every respect. I always laugh at the justification that it should be condoned because it can't be stopped completely. That is sending out totally the wrong message in the same way that it would be unthinkable to legalise burglary because it can't be entirely prevented.

  31. #36 bikash 15 Sep 13

    It should be 100% legalized in india like poor third world country.

  32. #37 bikash 15 Sep 13

    Indian society is full of hipocrisy. Prostitution is a honourable profession because they keep the society clean. Without prostitute there would be billion of rapes in india, though thousands of rape happens every day in india. Indian prostitutes are cheat and fraud beacuse of their culture, they are influenced by political leadres and police and local goons. This porfession must be legalized and prostitutes sould be educated like other common girls. Many of male like prostitutes than common indian hipocrete girls.

  33. #39 Matt in London 20 Oct 13

    Am jumping a bit late on that topic. For those who are interested in resources coming from the sex worker's point of view, two interesting websites:

    * - the website of the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE)
    * - the blog of a retired sex worker, entertaining reading to break preconceptions :)

    Respect to Bishakha Datta for her balanced point of view and for talking common sense in a domain where emotions take over too easily.

  34. #40 lewis mangula 28 Oct 13

    it should not be legalised

  35. #41 marie letisia 04 Nov 13

    am stilb very Young but to my point of view prostitution should not be legalised bc first of all selling your body to earn money is a crime cause the money u get isn't that u got from working but bc u sold u body to mens. when a prostitute says that she sells her body to get money i jst ask my self if she doesn't have any dignity cause even the bible and the koran are against that so to me simply legalising prostitution is first of all tempting god and and accepting this repunient act of selling ur body. thnak u am 15years

  36. #42 AAYUSH BANSAL 16 Nov 13

    both the above authors are right to one extent ,that they both are concerned about happiness of sex workers.though the means are different.Dianne says that we should abolish the practice of prostitution because it is unequal like any other work such as labour , workplace suppression etc. while the other debater talks about the trauma, healthcare and other harmful practices existing in the SYSTEM itself against these sex workers.
    i would like to throw a light on another angle and that is whether we are concerned about prostitution itself or factors which surround it (mainly consisting of society,government reaction,access to basic needs)
    that whether we want to debate the job content or the context in which it is rendered
    based on the above dimension answer for banning or allowing prostitution would be different for each country, society and type of government
    there cannot be a uniform answer to this case

  37. #45 Corinne Lopez 02 Dec 13

    Yes. It should be legal, for the same reasons drug use should be legal. You can't get rid of it by banning it. Regulate it, tax it, educate against it, and protect workers. Take the profits out of the hands of pimps and thugs.

  38. #46 Matt in London 02 Dec 13

    For those who are following this topic with interest (and with 45 comments so far there seems to be a lot!) there is an interesting debate currently taking place between Dianne Post (whose prohibitionist views are exposed above) and Maggie McNeill (one of the most thoughtful pro-sex work voices out there), as well as two other contributors. The first opus of this debate is available here:

    (also feel free to check the links to her blog even if you're on the prohibitionist side. Some of her arguments are good food for thoughts - see that entry for example: )

  39. #47 Chaz 20 Dec 13

    #never. why don't you legalize rape too

  40. #48 TRUTH 06 Jan 14

    NO! do not decriminalize prostitution.this will only make younger generations not get an education and give whatever city they reside in a shameful as well bad name.

  41. #49 Steven Yang 06 Jan 14

    No legalization and no illegalization either. Its demeaning but its their own right if they want to earn a living that way, which may be due to some circumstances beyond their control. I believed many would not want to be a prostitute if their situation permit.

  42. #50 Matt in London 20 Feb 14

    If Bishakha Datta's arguments gave you food for thoughts, you may be interested to take action on that topic:

    ’This repressive measure [i.e. the Swedish model advocated by Dianne Post, above] has been denounced by ALL sex workers' organisations in Europe as a measure that would only increase our vulnerability and our stigma, which are the root causes of the violence against sex workers.’

  43. #51 Brinda Adige 19 Apr 14

    Bishakha - sex work / decriminalization of sex work sound 'nice' intelligently, especially in the name of poverty only condones lopsided policies of the government, option for the State to abdicate its obligation towards its citizens. Can legality and legitimacy be different at various points of time or different for different people? “What is the logic of legally promoting flesh trade and then claiming legitimacy where women must suffer professional hazards”? How can women be safe in this trade when the job means she will get raped at least once every day if not more? Providing choices of either prostituting inside a brothel or out on the streets? Choices being condescendingly extend to women in prostitution to dehumanize themselves in the name of livelihood and freedom of sexuality – can we call this choice with dignity? Can violence (by a male or female) be condoned and justified in the name of legalization of prostitution? All this coffee table intelligentsia is nothing short of profiteering from selling human misery, slavery and vulnerability, often caused by structural and systemic decisions.

  44. #52 dianna 25 May 14

    most of what you are addressing Dianne is street prostitution child prostitution is a major problem today and a crime that should be severely punished! I don't believe women who chose to sell their bodies are degrading themselves it's their choice and if brothel prostitution was legalized in the states these women would be paying taxes and paying their bills supporting their children without welfare or being pimped out, yes there is sex trafficking and child sex trafficking however thats a whole different crime than women choosing sex work. it maybe degrading for you but there are many women who love their bodies and have no issues for getting payed for what most women give away free to someone they may have just met in a bar.

  45. #53 Tumisu 11 Feb 15

    Prostitution will not disappear anyway. We have to be practical. So the best solution is to regulate it. It's much better to have it legalized so there can be control, and women and men working in the sex industry can do it freely, without being forced by organized crime. Health can be increased, taxes can be collected, and the situation will be much better than it is today with prohibition.

    If you want to see more arguments about legalizing or not prostitution you should have a look a this poll and discussion:

  46. #54 Lyn Anijas Turno 11 Feb 15

    I believe that legalizing prostituion would lead to increase in sexually transmitted disease such as AIDS, global human trafficking and violent crime such as rape and homicide.They contend that prostitution is inherently immoral, commercially exploitative, empowers the criminal underworld and promotes the repression of women by men.

  47. #55 Robert Carr 05 Aug 15

    It should not be a surprise that our views on prostitution are so greatly influenced by the mental image we carry with us of what the activity actually looks like. I am convinced that many people expounding on the topic have never experienced or encountered prostitution at all. Others may have experienced one side or type of prostitution and extrapolate this to the entire field. For example street workers usually make up a small percentage of the industry in any jurisdiction but get the bulk of the discussion. This might be because they are more visible, or more vulnerable, or maybe that they better fit a persons argument.

    When deciding upon the legality of an activity one should have a clear picture of what they are sanctioning and talk in specifics rather than unhelpful generalizations. It is hard for me to think of all prostitutes are exploited when they live in a better house than I do, make twice my annual income, and derive much satisfaction from their work. Feminists have difficulty envisioning deriving satisfaction from pleasing men but for some it's like watching a child open presents on Christmas. Is it better to give or receive? Now you may say that this isn't representative of the industry but I would argue it is closer to typical in Colorado than the sexual trafficking others keep referring to (based on advertizing I see posted online).

    I disagree with simple decriminalization. We regulate and license most professions and sex professionals should expect no less. There should be licenses that ensure the professionalism and qualifications of the workers and their assistants or managers. We don't let unlicensed people cut hair, we shouldn't let unlicensed people provide sex.

  48. #56 Bobby 14 Oct 15

    Leave the prostitutes alone. They are almost all victims. Leave the procurers, the pimps and madams, alone also. They have the money to hire the best legal defense and can afford to pay bribes, corrupting the local police and government, and fines.
    Instead, go after the ’johns,’ the customers. They cannot abide the exposure, the embarrassment, the divorces, the loss of jobs and businesses while they sit in prison, and work at cleaning the roadsides in their ’day-glow’ bright orange coveralls, that read:’Property Of ABC State Prison; Inmate No. 123456, John Q. Public,’ in full view of the citizens.
    If a brothel is found and raided, take the ’johns’ out as the State Police find them: no trousers, barefoot, whatever. Parade them down the street in leg irons and with manacles fastened to waist chains.
    Being enforced by State Police avoids corruption of the local police and separates the enforcing Officers from the population.

  49. #57 The Truth 29 Nov 15

    One Problem, your argument is highlighting a gender problem with prostitution. when in fact the stated argument is whether or not prostitution should be legalized. Your sexist view point have destroyed the majority of the argument due to the fact that it's not only women that get objectified it is men and children as well. please reevaluate your argument and allow for gender equality and social deformation. as gender equality is one main point stated over and over in this argument. thanks.

  50. #58 mike 02 Dec 15

    yes i do think it should be legal because the last time i check it is a free country this is not the only law the government has violated our rights fem groups say it makes women unequal which i do not understand like there are no men prostitutes then it is inhumane when it is none of these thing what it is and what every one forgets is that it is a choice how can it be inhumane or unequal if a women or man offers to have sex with another for money as long as there is no one forcing a person to have sex it is there choice they mad the choice to sell there body for sex as long as they are not asking every passer by in public to pay them for sex it is against there rights for it to be illegal they have freedom of choice it is there body not the governments the only reason the government made it illegal is not because they care about any of us it is because they do not want any one making a dollar they cannot tax and they cannot pass a law taxing a person genitals i think as long as prostitution is kept in doors a private and no one is forcing them to have sex for money if they are being forced and the punishment for forcing another should be sever this is why i believe it should be kept in a establishment not on the street there needs to be whore houses we they are all together in 1 building or house there needs to be security that alone would eliminate the risk of back alley violence it is there choice and it would be a lot better out come if the government would stop restricting it because all that does it enable the violence and abuse instead they need to use there brain and they rarely do when it comes to the laws they write and take the kind of measures i wrote like keeping it in doors under a establishment and off the streets we they are likely to be abused it is there free choice keep it all in one location have security just like every other establishment do away with pimps have a manager of the same sex as the prostitute women prostitute women madame man prostitute man manager like i said restricting it is just enabling violence and abuse as long as that person chose to sell there body for sex last i checked it is there body the choice there mind the government does not own any of that we are all whores any way and the government is our pimp because we cannot make a dime with out the government taking half of it they pass laws and restrict us writing laws that hurt us and abuse our rights when it is supposed to be we the people and freedom of choice freedom of speech how are we free when we have to pay for it see if we were free if we decided to not pay taxes we would not go to jail and a long list of other government rules that would send us to prison if we stopped going by them but it is supposed to be we the people freedom of choice every one is equal the people say what is and what is not so how is the government not pimps the fact is they have forgotten we are the ones with the power there greed and addiction to control and power has blinded them of this and we need to remind them of our rights them who it is that actually runs this country we need to start speaking up when we think they are passing laws that do nothing but raise there pay checks we are the one who pay there pay checks and instead of helping the public and the looking out for the public they turn around and slap us with more restriction and laws that make no sense or help any one like i said they are pimps we are already prostitutes in way

  51. #59 shera 18 Dec 15


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New Internationalist Magazine issue 461
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