Last updated on: 5/13/2008 | Author:

Should People Have a Right to Become Prostitutes?

PRO (yes)


Paul R. Abramson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, Steven D. Pinkerton, PhD, Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Mark Huppin, JD, PhD, coauthor, wrote in their 2003 book Sexual Rights in America:

“[W]e grant that prostitution is an unpopular form of sexual expression… Imagine if the Constitution safeguarded only the most popular behavioral choices and allowed the government to restrict activities such as ice fishing, eating escargot, or keeping rats as pets. Or, to cite a more plausible example, what if only popular forms of artistic expression were granted constitutional protection? Controversial artists… would then be banished, rather than on prominent display in American museums. Sexual choices are certainly as fundamental to our lives as artistic expression, if not more so, and therefore these choices too should enjoy the full embrace of constitutional guarantees even if they upset the traditional order.”



Paul Armentano, Senior Policy Analyst for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), in the Dec. 1993 The Future of Freedom Foundation’s Freedom Daily article “The Case for Legalized Prostitution,” wrote:

“[T]he most important argument for the legalization of prostitution services is that such prohibitions violate one’s most basic and inherent rights. Prostitution is the voluntary sale (or rental) of a labor service. Individuals own their own bodies and their own labor services and have the absolute right to decide how those labor services should be used. As long as the prostitution transaction is voluntary, there is no justification for governmental interference. Indeed, such interference constitutes an infringement of the privacy and personal liberty of the individuals involved.”

Dec. 1993


Ari Armstrong, Founder of the Colorado Freedom Report, wrote in the Apr. 27, 2005 article entitled “Legalize Prostitution to Reduce Harms” on the organization’s website:

“[P]eople have rights to control their own bodies, even in ways that are demonstrably or potentially harmful. The only way to ban every dangerous act is to impose a police state. There is no good reason why the government should arrest people for prostitution or (select) drug use, but not for obesity, bulimia, promiscuous sex, or a host of other activities that can be far more harmful. It is wrong for the government to violate people’s rights by arresting them for such activities, and it is morally correct to recognize people’s rights.”

Apr. 27, 2005


Mariko Passion, Founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) chapter in Los Angeles, in a Jan. 4, 2007 e-mail to said that:

“Sex work most DEFINITELY is part of equal rights. The clients of sex workers are primarily men. The workers are all historically oppressed minority groups: Gay and Transgendered men, YOUTH, women and transgendered women. I have always seen sex work as a form of economic justice, and know many people who see it this way as well. On the sex positive side of things, there is a sexual liberation piece that is also worth celebrating for many of the same groups of people. Sex work has opened doors of healing, transformation, freedom and expression for many many clients and providers since the beginning of time.”

Jan. 4, 2007

CON (no)


Virada Somswasdi, JD, President of the Foundation for Women, Law and Rural Development (FORWARD), said in a Mar. 9, 2004 speech at Cornell Law School:

“The implicit assumption of free choice in wording such as ‘the private affairs of individuals’, ‘personal freedom’, ‘right to privacy’ and ‘the consent of two adults’ are nothing but the formation of an illusion perpetuating lack of social awareness of sexual slavery.

Dominated by the patriarchal social structure, male and female members of society fail to understand that prostitution is about the flesh trade, and involves a high risk of exposure to violence characterized by bodily harm, health hazards and mental trauma. It is about the violation of women’s human rights.

Prostitution is not about women enjoying rights over their own bodies; on the contrary, it is an expression of men’s control over women’s sexuality. It is the hiring out of one’s body for the purposes of sexual intercourse, abuse and manifestations of undifferentiated male lust. It is about gendered, ethnic, age, racial and class power relations. By no means is it the ‘consent of two adults’, when one party is the buyer and the other the seller, especially when the buying party happens to be socially constructed as ‘the better sex’, ‘the better class’, ‘the more matured’, ‘the power-that-be’, ‘the more cultural polished’ or ‘the fairer skin’ etc.”

Mar. 9, 2004


Margareta Winberg, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, said at the Nov. 5-6, 2002 Seminar on the Effects of Legalisation of Prostitution Activities in Stockholm that:

“I would like to remind us all that efforts to combat prostitution and trafficking in women can only succeed if we refuse to be the stooges of the international prostitution industry. Instead of adopting the superficial and individualised arguments put forward by advocates of legalisation, we must take a stand against a society in which women and children are regarded as commodities for trade; against the purchase of women and children by men, and for a future in which all women and children are given equal opportunities and in which their human rights are respected.”

Nov. 5-6, 2002


Esohe Aghatise, PhD, Founder and Executive Director of the Associazione Iroko Onlus, wrote in an Oct. 2004 Violence Against Women article titled “Trafficking for Prostitution in Italy” that:

“The argument that regulation of prostitution better protects women in prostitution is deceptive. Prostitution itself is a form of violence against women and a negation of women’s fundamental human rights. Studies have shown that women in prostitution, whether in private apartments, hotel rooms, sex clubs, massage parlors, or in large megacenters of prostitution activities, still experience many forms of violence (Raymond et al., 2002). In a male-dominant culture, prostitution denies equality to women by treating the female body as an instrument of commerce.”

Oct. 2004


Brenda Zurita, Project Director for Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) Crossing the Bridge initiative against sex trafficking and child exploitation, in a Dec. 14, 2005 CWA article, wrote:

“Abolitionists fighting to end sex trafficking see all prostitution as violent, exploitative and harmful to women, children and men. The distinction between forced and voluntary is a false one; it is all destructive and dehumanizing.”

Dec. 14, 2005