Is Prostitution a Victimless Crime?
Wendy C. Garfinkle, MA, MFA, Crime Analyst at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, in a Nov. 4, 2016 blog post on wendycgarfinkle.com titled “Here Are the Reasons Why I Think Prostitution Should Be Legalized,” wrote:
“There are no ‘victims’ of the act of prostitution itself. The ‘victimization’ occurs when a client assaults the professional – rape, battery, etc., robs them of their fee, drugs them…
While adultery is (morally) grounds for divorce, it is NOT a crime in the USA. Therefore, when one’s spouse has sex with a prostitute in the USA, it should not be a crime. Ergo, there is NO VICTIM – victimLESS ‘crime.’ And if prostitution were legal, the word ‘crime’ wouldn’t even appear in this paragraph…
Prostitution should be legalized and called something less derogatory, such as ‘Sex Worker’ or ‘Licensed Companions’…
Prostitution is, at its core, a simple transaction – a trade of money for a service. As long as all parties are of legal age and ability to consent, according to the laws of the land in which it occurs, since when is a simple transaction a crime?.”Nov. 4, 2016
Cathy Young, Contributing Editor at Reason magazine and Reason.com, stated in her May 7, 2007 Reason.com article titled “Prostitutes and Politics”:
“[P]rostitution is perhaps the ultimate victimless crime: a consensual transaction in which both parties are supposedly committing a crime, and the person most likely to be charged—the one selling sex—is also the one most likely to be viewed as the victim…
It’s the criminalization of prostitution that does take actual victims…
As with other victimless crimes, the criminalization of prostitution creates a vast breeding ground for corruption, hypocrisy, and morally dubious law enforcement tactics.”May 7, 2007
Billy J. Long, PhD, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Ferrum College, stated in his Aug. 2012 article titled “Freedom for Women in the Sex Work Occupation: Twenty-Three Reasons Why Prostitution Should Be Legalized in America,” published in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science:
“For too long, many in the United States have considered sex work to be demeaning toward women. Women sex workers are typically viewed as ‘billiard balls’ helplessly propelled into prostitution and being degraded by their male customers. These hapless victims are viewed with pity while the evil male oppressor is castigated for stooping to the depths of depravity by paying for sex with cash. This is a fallacious and wildly inaccurate allegation. Quite the contrary, after legalization and normalization of private prostitution, more women will feel empowered to perceive their activities not as degrading or demeaning but, rather, as uplifting and beneficial.”Aug. 2012
Sherry F. Colb, JD, Professor of Law and Judge Frederick Lacey Scholar at Rutgers Law School, wrote in a Dec. 17, 2006 email to ProCon.org:
“Prostitution should not be a crime. Prostitutes are not committing an inherently harmful act. While the spread of disease and other detriments are possible in the practice of prostitution, criminalization is a sure way of exacerbating rather than addressing such effects. We saw this quite clearly in the time of alcohol prohibition in this country…
What makes prostitution a ‘victimless crime’ in the sense that no one is necessarily harmed by it is that there are consenting adults involved.”Dec. 17, 2006
Harry Browne, 1996 and 2000 Libertarian Party Candidate for President, wrote in the 2000 The Great Libertarian Offer:
“It’s not difficult for a free society to keep violent crime to a minimum — with little intrusion on individual liberty and at relatively low cost. But governments also prosecute ‘victimless’ crimes. These are acts that (1) are illegal, (2) involve no intrusion on anyone’s person or property, and (3) about which no injured party files a complaint with the police. These acts include such things as prostitution, gambling, and drug use. They are activities in which all parties participate voluntarily…
Either individuals are responsible for their own acts — including their choices of relationships — or the government is responsible for everything you do. There is no middle ground. Giving government the power to outlaw consensual activity allows the politicians to impose any laws they want on you. And they will use that power.”2000
The San Francisco Bay Guardian, in its Jan. 28, 2004 editorial “Decriminalize Sex Work,” stated:
“San Francisco alone spends tens of millions of dollars a year cracking down on victimless crimes like gambling, drug use, and prostitution. The cops arrest sex workers; the Sheriff’s Office has to process them and pay an average of $94 a day to keep them in jail. The District Attorney’s Office has to pour resources into prosecuting the cases, and since many of the people arrested don’t have the money for private lawyers, the Public Defender’s Office has to defend them…
Law enforcement efforts haven’t made a dent in the city’s sex work industry and never will. But careful decriminalization, combined with strict regulation, could and would end much of the exploitation that takes place in the underground economy.”Jan. 28, 2004
Sue Bradford, Member of New Zealand’s Parliament, in her Dec. 12, 2005 speech to Parliament, stated:
“We believed, and still do, that it was completely wrong to go on living with an archaic law which criminalised generations of sex workers, mainly women, for a victimless so called crime in the name of antique moralities shared by only some of the population.”Dec. 12, 2005
Katie Pedigo, JD, Executive Director of New Friends New Life, in a Mar. 19, 2013 article for aljazeera.com titled “Prostitution: A ‘Victimless Crime’?,” wrote:
“Prostitution is often described as a ‘victimless crime’, or a ‘consensual crime’, because in theory, no one present at the crime is unwilling. In reality, this is a myth. In reality, prostitution of women is a particularly lethal form of violence against women, and a violation of a woman’s most basic human rights.
It is rarely the media-approved version of prostitution, a sexy and highly-paid adventure where business is conducted at upscale bars and in hotel rooms; though some sex workers do have that experience, most do not. For the vast majority of prostituted women, prostitution is the experience of being hunted, dominated, harassed, assaulted and battered.
Sadly, the majority of girls enter prostitution before they have reached the age of consent. In other words, their first commercial sexual interactions are rape…
Another myth is that most women and girls choose to enter the sex industry. Again, while this is true for a small number of sex workers, the research indicates that for the vast majority of women and girls, it is a highly constrained choice. Ultimately, viewing prostitution as a genuine ‘choice’ for women, such as secretarial work or waitressing, diminishes the possibility of getting women out and improving their lives.”Mar. 19, 2013
Ruchira Gupta, MA, Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, stated in a July 19, 2013 email to ProCon.org:
“Research and my own work with women in prostitution has shown that rarely do women, let alone girls, control the money that is earned off of their bodies. The women ends up as the consumed. In Apne Aap, we have seen that the women in the Red Light areas actually earn less as they grow older, get deeper into debt and suffer from multiple mental and physical health issues related to repeated body invasion. Their victimization is evident from any point of view physically, socially, and legally.
Prostitution is definitely not a victimless crime. Women in prostitution are victimized on an hourly basis and they are also victimized at the time of recruitment because they are victims of multiple discriminations as being girls, being poor, and very often being from marginalized race or caste communities.”July 19, 2013
The Lowell Sun, in its May 16, 2013 editorial titled “Sexual Servitude No Victimless Crime,” stated:
“There’s some sentiment out there that prostitution — except for the potential of sexually transmitted disease and the marital implosion it may cause — is really one of those victimless pursuits that really doesn’t fit the description of a crime.
Aside from the societal concerns that sex for money constantly erodes whatever moral values the majority of us still hold dear, the more immediate harm is dealt to these vulnerable young women who are usually duped into a life of dependency and abuse.”May 16, 2013
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), in the 1992 Female Juvenile Prostitution: Problem and Response, stated:
“MYTH 2 – Prostitution is a victimless crime.
Prostitution creates a setting whereby crimes against men, women, and children become a commercial enterprise… It is an assault when he/she forces a prostitute to engage in sadomasochistic sex scenes. When a pimp compels a prostitute to submit to sexual demands as a condition of employment, it is exploitation, sexual harassment, or rape — acts that are based on the prostitute’s compliance rather than her consent. The fact that a pimp or customer gives money to a prostitute for submitting to these acts does not alter the fact that child sexual abuse, rape, and/or battery occurs; it merely redefines these crimes as prostitution.”1992
The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of the Migrants and Itinerant People, in the June 20-21, 2006 “First International Meeting of Pastoral Care for the Liberation of Women of the Street,” wrote:
“Who is the victim?
She is a human being, in many cases crying for help because selling her body on the street is not what she would choose to do voluntarily. She is torn apart, she is dead psychologically and spiritually. Each person has a different story, mainly one of violence, abuse, mistrust, low self esteem, fear, lack of opportunities. Each has experienced deep wounds that need to be healed.”June 20-21, 2006
Joseph Parker, Clinical Director of the Lola Greene Baldwin Foundation, wrote the Aug. 4, 1998 “How Prostitution Works,” which stated:
“People who have had luckier lives, as well as those who profit from the sex industry in some way, frequently refer to prostitution and pornography as ‘victim-less crimes’. They point to a tiny fraction of sex workers who actually might be involved by choice. They selectively read history to find some tiny minority, somewhere, at some time, who gained something in the sex business.
The very selectiveness of their attention indicates that, on some level, they know that for almost everyone, involvement in the sex industry is a terrible misfortune.
As many an old cop will say, ‘Anyone who thinks prostitution is a victimless crime, hasn’t seen it up close.'”Aug. 4, 1998