Point: Striking down prostitution laws is not the answer

Now that the laws around prostitution have been overthrown, do you think individuals who visit brothels or street hookers can get a receipt for purchasing these taxable services? Perhaps they will file it in their tax returns, maybe even list it as a luxury expense at their workplace? Maybe now that it has been decriminalized, prostitution could be a trade taught at schools and colleges. An elective perhaps?

All very fascinating possibilities, and I’d like to think rather valid thoughts, for the effects of legalizing the business of prostitution can have some far and wide implications. However, as interesting as it is, I’m not here to dispute the morality of prostitution. Arguing the morality of any controversial issue regarding what we do with our bodies is often completely based upon personal opinion (which, when involving religious foundation, can be a fruitless debate).

What can be said, is that sanctioning the laws surrounding prostitution will not lessen the issues currently afflicting sex workers, not even close.

This controversial court decision was handed down last Tuesday, which struck down laws against pimping, soliciting and brothels. Although based in Ontario, the ruling could have a nationwide impact if it overcomes the appeals. Justice Susan Himel argued that these laws put the lives of sex workers at risk by forcing them to work in dangerous atmospheres.

Despite Himel’s confidence, the plain truth is that there are still going to be just as many people on the streets and just as many survival sex workers who will be driven by drugs and exploited by their clients.

Look at it from the eyes of the most common prostitute, the drug afflicted and money starved young adult, and not from the professionals supporting the legalization of these laws.

These sex workers operate unregulated. Once regulated, the diseased, drug addicted and homeless will be in the same position as prior to the decriminalization of these laws as they won’t be making themselves available for screening, taxation or brothels.

Brothels won’t be hiring these folk. These individuals will continue to do what they do, albeit illegally. They will continue attracting the most dangerous Johns in order to obtain work. Ontario can go ahead and legalize prostitution, but all will remain as it was before, worsening each day as the doors to human trafficking open a little wider.

Let’s demonstrate by example: Amsterdam, home of the most popular red district in the world. One member of the Dutch police stated that most prostitutes, as many as 8,000 in the legal sector and unofficial estimates in the unregulated sector bring the total to 25,000, are controlled by cruel pimps.

Prostitution was legalized in 2000 with the removal of laws against brothels which was a move intended to protect sex workers. But backlashes occurred in the middle of the decade as human trafficking actually grew, with violent incident occurrences increasing rapidly.

Another example is Germany, which has legal prostitution, a licensing system and regulation by local authorities. Both Germany and the Netherlands have high levels of illegal prostitution and the United Nations have singled these two countries out as being the top destinations for women who are victims of human trafficking.

What Canada and Judge Susan Himel need to realize is that the issues the “responsible” prostitutes are facing is not the problem. Offer skills training, counseling, forced rehab to the drugged up hookers on the streets. Get at the real problem, rather than shrug your shoulders and give prostitution an unchecked green light.

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