Last updated on: 1/22/2008 | Author:

Sherry F. Colb, JD Biography

Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell Law School
Pro to the question "Should Prostitution Be Legal?"

“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….

I would like the government to decriminalize prostitution but to regulate it in the way that other intimate service professions (such as massage therapists and doctors) are regulated on the basis of hygiene-related concerns.

One thing I would add is that there is a double-standard that permeates the enforcement of laws against prostitution. The prostitutes are harassed, arrested, and sometimes prosecuted, while the johns (and often the pimps, who are far more likely to be engaged in violent and master/slave-like treatment of the prostitutes) are ignored. This reflects the view that men who traffic in women are not as bad as the women in whom they traffic. If people are honestly concerned about the wellbeing of women in this profession, then they must begin by removing the status of ‘outlaw’ from these women so that they can come forward and receive help if and when they feel they want to leave a profession that can otherwise be quite difficult to escape.”

E-mail to, Dec. 17, 2006

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar, Cornell Law School, July 2008-present
  • Judge Frederick B. Lacey Scholar, Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, 2000-June 2008
  • Professor, Law, Rutgers University School of Law, Newark, 1995-present
  • Visiting Professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Law, 2002
  • Assistant Professor, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, 1993-1995
  • Law Clerk, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, United States Supreme Court, 1992-1993
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Wilfred Feinberg, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1991-1992
  • Columnist,
  • Member, Phi Beta Kappa
  • JD, magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1991
  • BA, summa cum laude, Psychology, Columbia College, 1988
  • None found
Quoted in:
  1. Should Prostitution Be Legal?
  2. Is Prostitution a Victimless Crime?