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There Are No Truly Victimless Crimes

1054 words - 4 pages

A man chooses to take cocaine. He understands the risks he is taking, and he believes that taking the cocaine is worth the risk. Should he be allowed to take the drug? Or should the government force him to abstain from it, in his own interest? He is not hurting anyone but himself, so why should there be a law against it? This debate has raged since the beginning of civilization. J. S. Mill, in his Essay on Liberty, takes the position that is commonly accepted: the government should not interfere with matters that do not involve more than one person. These matters are often called "victimless crimes." Mill - along with the majority of people in today's world - claims that if a person commits a crime against his or herself, such as harming the body by taking certain drugs or suicide, the person should not be prosecuted. The argument is that no other person is affected. All involved parties consent to the arrangement, so they should be responsible for whatever happens. A few common victimless crimes are prostitution, taking harmful drugs, and suicide. These are perceived as having no negative effect on anyone but the people who agreed to accept the negative effects. In reality, all victimless crimes cause problems for other members of society. J. S. Mill did not understand that "victimless" crimes do not actually exist.
Prostitution is one of the most debated of the victimless crimes, because the US has been "slow" in adopting it legally. Only ten Nevadian counties out of the entirety of the 50 United States have passed laws that legalize prostitution, while in Holland prostitution is a recognized occupation. Holland even has a union for prostitutes. It is argued by proponents of legalized prostitution that the business is a victimless crime. Both parties agree to take all risks involved when they enter the business agreement. The view in favor of legalized prostitution is uninformed. A prostitute's terms are often violated by the customer, or by the prostitute's employer. Sixty-two percent of prostitutes report being raped at their job, usually by their employers. Seventy-five percent have been violently attacked by an employer or customer. These are all actions that were not agreed to by the prostitute, causing the prostitute to become a victim. Other negative effects on the prostitute can result from the practice. Seventy-five percent of prostitutes have attempted suicide, which may be related to the sixty-five percent who have clinical post-traumatic stress disorder. Ninety-two percent of prostitutes say that they want to escape from the world of prostitution. There is also another potential victim: the family of the prostitute or of the customer. A prostitute's family may feel shame for the actions of their relative, leading to stress and depression. People who visit prostitutes often find that their families break up over their infidelity. This can cause massive stress and depression for the spouse and children. It is safe to say...

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