Thursday, August 7, 2014

Decriminalise Sex Work: Pros and Cons

Calls grow to decriminalization of sex work! As every coin has two sides, same way decriminalization of sex work has various pros and cons, so let’s see them in detail here.

A sex worker can be male, female, or transgender, who get money or goods in exchange for sexual services, either often or rarely. In most countries, sex work and activities related with it are criminal offenses, so countries struggle with the legal act of prostitution or sex work, a practice that is as old as history itself. It has become difficult for sex workers to access legal, social and health services due to the disgrace that connected with sex work and make service-providers so reluctant to support sex workers. Every day sex workers are subjected to force and violence from the police, clients, and their boyfriends, and have no legal option, so they have called the government to decriminalize sex work. In simple words, decriminalization means to abolish all criminal laws against sex work, so that sex workers can live without stigma, social exclusion, and fear of violence.

decriminalisation of sex work

As per a new study published in the world’s leading medical journal - The Lancet, the decriminalization of sex work can drastically reduce global HIV infections among female sex workers, leading to a decrease of at least a third in three countries (Canada, India and Kenya) examined by researchers. In a paper presented at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, the decriminalization of sex work can avert HIV infections among female sex workers by 33 to 46 % over the next decade in those countries. As per the World Health Organization, female sex workers are 14 times as probable to have HIV as other women, whereas transgender women are around 50 times as probable to have HIV as other adults.

All the accessible data have been collected by the researchers based on HIV prevalence, condom use and structural determinants among sex workers, and used a mathematical form to simulate the effect of various interventions in three different settings: Vancouver, Canada; Bellary, India; and Mombasa, Kenya. The international policy bodies like WHO, UNDP, UNAIDS, and the UN Population Fund have supported calls for elimination of all legal boundaries targeting sex work.

Decriminalize sex work: Pros

Human rights of sex workers

The reason for engaging into sex work varies from person to person, so all people should be treated with respect and dignity. Irrespective of their reasons for entry in sex work and the nature of their work, sex workers must be entitled to the fundamental right to work to support themselves and their families. Amnesty International published a draft policy arguing in support of decriminalization, stating that sex workers should enjoy the same labor rights as other workers and the same human rights as other people. Sex work should be acknowledged as work, consequently sex workers have organized to fight for their human rights in many parts of the world. Moreover, the World Health Organisation censures the criminalization of sex work, and backs the new research from The Lancet which presents that decriminalizing prostitution would assist in reducing rates of sexually transmitted infections, mainly HIV/Aids.

Promote safe working conditions

Allowing workers to organize is a significant way in which decriminalization promotes safer working conditions for sex workers, as jointly sex workers can address risk factors in their workplaces and insist upon better conditions. Sex workers can address with one voice to demand their safety for granting them the same protection as any other woman can expect, and decriminalization can only provide this.

Legitimate business and career option

Sex work is legitimate work and working is not a crime, also note that it is vulnerability that creates victims and not sex work. Prostitution is not only an exchange of sexual favors, but also it is a financial exchange. At this stage, individualist feminists grow to protect the free market, plus a woman's self-ownership.

Reduce police abuse and violence

Decriminalization would better protect people in the sex industry from violence and abuse done by police as they exert power over sex workers in the way of threats of arrest and public humiliation. There are many reports from sex workers against police that they have been raped by police officers, beaten by police, etc. Police in these aspects enjoy a lot as they very well know that sex workers fear of being arrested or subjected to more abuse if they report these crimes. Although decriminalization is not the complete solution to be free from police abuse and misconduct, it can empower sex workers to come ahead to register complaints against police who act improperly, and to bring offenders to justice without worry of negative consequences for their own livelihoods.

Other advantages of decriminalization of sex work include lower sexual crimes/assaults, lower unwanted pregnancies, increases sex workers access to justice, increases access to heath services, etc.

Decriminalize sex work: Cons

Dangerous for women

Legalization of prostitution increases the demand for prostitution, which greatly affects family structure and women as it boosts the drive of men to buy women for sex in a much wider and more allowable range of socially acceptable settings. Moreover, it could put much strain on a family and a woman knowing that the man is paying for prostitutes.

Human Trafficking

Do you know the fact that lots of women in prostitution in countries that have legalized prostitution are originally victims of trafficking in women? Legalization of prostitution would produce more threats and damage for women from already aggressive customer and pimps. If we do not work together to get rid of prostitution and the sexual abuse of women and children, then we will not thrive in combating trafficking in women.

Prevalence of rape

It is a brutal lie to recommend that decriminalization or legalization will defend anyone in prostitution. Prostitution cannot reduce rape as it has itself bought rape - the link between rape and prostitution is that women are either bought or stolen and turned into objects for men's sexual use.

Other negative points of decriminalization of sex work include increases clandestine, hidden, illegal and street prostitution, increases the demand for prostitution, increases child prostitution, does not protect the women in prostitution, does not promote women’s health, etc.


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