Outlaw Poverty, Not Prostitution Essay

1813 words - 7 pages

Prostitution is famously known as “the world’s oldest profession.” Lots of scholars like to nitpick this and say that hunting or gathering actually deserves that title, but the fact remains that it is currently and historically ubiquitous: all ancient and modern cultures have had their own form of prostitution, from ancient Greece and the Aztecs to modern-day America. For example, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus in his Histories talks about ancient Mesopotamians practicing sacred or “temple prostitution,” a worship practice that enacts symbolic marriage between a god and a goddess with humans representing the deities. In ancient Rome, prostitutes were often foreign slaves or people of the poor, lower class. In ancient Greece, prostitution involved not just women, but boys as well. Prostitution, in its various shapes and forms, has been and will be a part of human society no matter the time period or geographical location. The business is merely fulfilling a basic human need in a professional relationship. Unfortunately, American legislature ignores this simple truth and continues to criminalize and prosecute the profession and all those involved. But because prostitution shows no signs of abating any time soon, American legislature needs to take a different approach. Prostitution should not be abolished or suppressed, but legalized and regulated (or decriminalized), which constitutes state authority and control over the profession, as well as social tolerance of all the aspects of the profession. Although many groups are opposed to prostitution in the United States, the positive effects of decriminalizing the prostitution industry would far outweigh the current detrimental effects of an illegal, largely underground prostitution sector.

While some ancient cultures embraced prostitution, sex workers in other cultures faced social stigmas, persecution, criminalization, slavery, violence and abuse. Sex workers today still face these same problems. In fact, it wasn’t until a crucial event in 1975 in Lyons, France that the sex workers’ rights movement really emerged. When 150 prostitutes took over a church to protest the inaction, lack of protection and abuse from law enforcement, the world took notice. The protest stimulated the development of organizations around the world in England, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States, and in 1985, an “international instrument” for sex workers’ rights was born: the World Charter for Prostitutes’ Rights (Sanders, O'Neill and Pitcher 95-96). The Charter required the decriminalization, regulation and protection of adult prostitution, demanded basic human rights and civil liberties, freedom from discrimination, the right to pay taxes and receive benefits, along with addressing the importance of educational programs that would change public opinion and work towards the de-stigmatization of the profession (Sanders, O'Neill and Pitcher 96-97).

While the World Whores’ Congress...

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