Last updated on: 2/23/2018 | Author:

Top 10 Pro & Con Arguments

Should prostitution be legal?

1. Should Prostitution Be Legal?

“If sex work is not going to disappear anytime soon, anyone who cares about the health and safety of sex workers – not to mention their rights – should support moves to make it a fully legal industry. That is what most sex workers want as well…

[C]ountries that criminalize the sex industry should consider the harms these laws cause… It is time to put aside moralistic prejudices, whether based on religion or an idealistic form of feminism, and do what is in the best interests of sex workers and the public as a whole.”

Peter Singer, MA
Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University
“The Case for Legalizing Sex Work,” Project Syndicate
Nov. 14, 2016

“Some assert that this ‘profession’ can be empowering and that legalizing and regulating all aspects of prostitution will mitigate the harm that accompanies it. But I cannot accept a policy prescription that codifies such a pernicious form of violence against women. Normalizing the act of buying sex also debases men by assuming that they are entitled to access women’s bodies for sexual gratification. If paying for sex is normalized, then every young boy will learn that women and girls are commodities to be bought and sold.”


Jimmy Carter
39th President of the United States
“To Curb Prostitution, Punish Those Who Buy Sex Rather Than Those Who Sell It,” Washington Post
May 31, 2016


2. Sex Worker Views on Legalization

“I cannot understand why any form of criminal sanction should be considered applicable to the voluntary sale and purchase of sexual services in 2016. This is clearly a private matter in which the state should not seek to legislate…

Criminalisation does not help people get out of prostitution and legalisation does not trap them in it.

As a society we can choose whether to make it easier for people to escape prostitution or whether to make life harder for those trapped in it.

I have always believed that any person selling sex has a right to demand whatever resources it would take for them to leave prostitution into a situation that they can realistically thrive and grow in.”

Gaye Dalton
Former sex worker
Written evidence submitted to the UK Home Affairs Committee’s Prostitution Inquiry, available from
Feb. 23, 2016

“As far as legislation towards decriminalising the sale of sex is concerned, I hold the same views today that I held all through the 1990s when I was a working prostitute myself, and that view is no, I do not support that, because to support decriminalising the sale of sex would be to support prostitution itself…

I believe if a prostitute or former prostitute wants to see prostitution legalised, it is because she is inured [desensitized] both to the wrong of it and to her own personal injury from it…

To be prostituted is humiliating enough; to legalise prostitution is to condone that humiliation, and to absolve those who inflict it. It is an agonising insult.

Rachel Moran
Former sex worker and Co-Founder of Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment (SPACE) International
“Should Prostitution Be Legal? Let’s Try Listening to the Real Experts,”
Sep. 22, 2013


3. Law Enforcement Views on Legalization

“It’s time for legislators to wake up from slumber land by legalizing and regulating prostitution…

Some folks disapprove of the immoral nature of sex for sale and, perhaps, rightfully so. But judging morality is for churches, employers, family members and peers. It should not be a matter for law enforcement, court dockets and jail cells, costing the taxpayer dearly, every day, every month, every year…

Prostitution flourishes in the black market that would not exist if brothels and hookers were legitimized, licensed, medically inspected, zoned and taxed. Like drugs, gambling and other crimes of morality, or alcohol prohibition of years past, the black market is nourished by draconian laws that forever fail to accomplish its intended purpose…

In Germany, and other countries, prostitution is legal and taxed. They turn the ‘crime’ into an economic plus. In other countries like the United States, we create the ‘crime,’ which turns the behavior into an economic negative. And, it’s still a thriving business, law or no law.”

Marshall Frank
Retired Captain, Metro-Dade Police Department
“Frank: Let’s Legalize, Regulate Prostitution,”
Aug. 29, 2015

“Prostitution is not a fairy tale. ‘Pretty Woman’ normalizes something that destroys lives. It glamorizes prostitution and creates an illusion that prostitution is a voluntary, desirable occupation. The film suggests that prostituted people are knowledgeable and have other options they might have chosen. The reality is that prostitution and sex trafficking make up a harmful, pervasive, illegal, and violent criminal industry involving pimps and traffickers who are tied to gangs, drugs, and street violence…

Now is the time to act. We need men and women to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. We need to attack this harmful sex industry from all sides by targeting the pimps and the traffickers, providing services and exit strategies for those being prostituted, and educating and dissuading would be buyers. We need to dissuade buyers from fueling this industry and hold them accountable when they do.”

Donna Gavin
Lieutenant, Human Trafficking Unit, Boston Police Department
“‘Pretty Woman’ Normalizes Something That Destroys Lives,”
Mar. 23, 2015


4. Victimless Crime?

“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?.”

Wendy C. Garfinkle, MA, MFA
Crime Analyst at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office
“Here Are the Reasons Why I Think Prostitution Should Be Legalized,”
Nov. 4, 2016

“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.”

Katie Pedigo, JD
Executive Director of New Friends New Life
“Prostitution: A ‘Victimless Crime’?,”
Mar. 19, 2013


5. Morality of Prostitution

“Consensual sex is legal. But as soon as one party offers cash to another in exchange for sex and that money is voluntarily accepted, it’s considered prostitution, and that is illegal. This is hypocritical, illogical, and wasteful – and it needs to stop…

Perhaps you think sex work is an immoral lifestyle. However, it is arguably no less moral than a lifestyle of random ‘hooking up,’ or the stereotypical lifestyle of the professional athlete or rock star who brags about how many women he has had sex with…

It is the duty of government to protect property rights and to prosecute individuals who coerce or force themselves upon others. However, the government needs to stop wasting resources on voluntary, adult sexual exchanges… It is time to put an end to this hypocritical and wasteful prosecution of sex workers and their clients.”

Ninos P. Malek, PhD
Professor of Economics at De Anza College
“Why Can’t You Pay for Sex?,”
Mar. 1, 2017

“In my police career, I met and even developed working relationships with ‘working girls.’ The work is nothing like Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman.’ It is deplorable and in many ways degrades and robs the participants of fragile parts of their humanity…

I would say the idea that prostitution should be legalized is wrong. For those few who suggest otherwise, I would argue sex for money is illegal not just because it’s immoral, but because it’s just plain bad for women at every level.”

Joe Vargas, MA
Former Captain of the Anaheim Police Department
“Vargas: Legalizing Prostitution Would Do Nothing to Curb Abuse, Degradation of Women,” Behind the Badge OC
Feb. 26, 2017


6. Human Trafficking

“[C]riminalizing prostitution makes sex trafficking more likely. One widely recognized consequence of prohibition is the formation of cartels, which in a black market are more likely to use violence. This violence drives some producers out of the market, leading to higher prices and large criminal enterprises with monopoly power. Instead of breaking apart sex-trafficking rings, prohibition increases their profitability, making trafficking more appealing to criminal enterprises…

After legalizing prostitution in 2003, New Zealand found ‘no incidence of human trafficking.’ Moreover, legalization made it easier for sex workers to report abuse and for police to prosecute sex crimes.”

Abigail Hall-Blanco, PhD
Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Tampa
“Legalized Prostitution Is Safer,”
Feb. 19, 2017

“[M]odels of complete decriminalisation and legalisation of the sex industry increase trafficking inflows by fostering demand for the sexual exploitation of women and girls…

Legalisation or decriminalisation of the sex industry is often touted as a way to weed out organised crime in the industry and reduce the associated illegal trafficking inflows. However, evidence shows that legalisation/decriminalisation only increases flows of women trafficked into the industry and provides a legitimate front for organised crime, while at the same time reducing police oversight of the industry.”

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia
“CATWA Submission to the Legislative Council Select Committee on Human Trafficking in New South Wales,”
Feb. 2017


7. Prostitution & Violence

“The Netherlands holds a long tradition of regulated tolerance toward prostitution. Besides the well-known window prostitution in red-light districts, the Dutch government also regulates other parts of the sex industry…

Our empirical results show that opening a tippelzone [designated legal street prostitution zone in the Netherlands] reduces sexual abuse and rape. These results are mainly driven by a 30–40 percent reduction in the first two years after opening the tippelzone. For tippelzones with a licensing system, we additionally find long-term decreases in sexual assault and a 25 percent decrease in drug-related crime, which persists in the medium to long run.”

Stephen Kastoryano, PhD
Assistant Professor in Empirical Econometrics at the University of Mannheim (Germany), et al.,
“Street Prostitution Zones and Crime,”
Apr. 19, 2017

“Legalisation does NOT reduce violence.

Women who bring charges against pimps and clients will bear the burden of proving that they were ‘forced.’ How possibly can a prostitute prove that she was forced to become a victim of sexual violence if this has happened in her recruitment or is part of her ‘working conditions.’ Violence is the nature of sex industry.

It is a cruel lie to suggest that decriminalisation or legalisation of the whole industry will protect prostitutes. It is not possible to protect someone whose source of income exposes them to the likelihood of being raped on average once a week.”

Inna Shevchenko
President of FEMEN International Association
“Amnesty International’s Policy Does Not Protect Prostitutes: Why Legalisation Doesn’t Work,”
Aug. 17, 2015


8. STD Prevention

“It is argued that legalising or decriminalising sex work is beneficial to curbing the HIV epidemic because it allows governments to monitor and regulate the sex trade. In doing so, they can ensure that sex workers are empowered to negotiate condom use, improve their access to public services, and protect them from violence and abuse…

Research evidence supports this argument. An analysis of data from 27 European countries found that in countries that have legalised some aspects of sex work there is a significantly lower HIV prevalence among sex workers compared to those countries where all aspects of sex work are criminalised.”

“Sex Workers, HIV and AIDS,”
Aug. 29, 2017

“[U]nder laws that legalize and try to regulate prostitution, health check cards are often given to women. In theory, the cards can be presented to buyers as proof that the women have been tested and are disease free… Even when the women are tested for medical conditions, the tests are unreliable and invalid because many tests take days or weeks before the results are available. During that time, the women see more men who could be infected…

Arguing that STD testing prevents disease is like arguing that pregnancy tests prevent pregnancy. It is a fundamentally flawed line of reasoning to begin with… The only way to truly protect the health of a prostituted woman is to GET HER OUT OF PROSTITUTION.”

Laila Mickelwait, MPD
President and Founder of New Reality International
“Myth vs. Fact: 6 Common Myths about Prostitution and the Law,”
Mar. 24, 2015


9. Legitimate Business?

“Sex work is work. This simple yet powerful statement frames sex workers not as criminals, victims, vectors of disease, or sinners but as workers…

Sex work is first and foremost an income-generating activity. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that sex workers support between five and eight other people with their earnings…

Exploitation and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions exist in many labour sectors. Work does not become something other than work in the presence of these conditions. Even when performed under exploitative, unsafe or unhealthy conditions, sex work is still work.”

Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP)
“Sex Work as Work,”

“[Prostitution] is not a regular consumer transaction… [it] is sexual abuse. The buyer’s disregard for mutuality, and ability to treat another person as a sexual object, are fundamental to the act. It is… ‘violence against women’. Responses to the sex trade which have attempted to skirt over this inherent harm, to sanction it as legitimate business in a bid to quash attendant harms, haven’t just failed – they’ve made it worse…

Demand for the sex trade is not inevitable. The sexist attitudes of entitlement that underpin it can be tackled. But that won’t be achieved by state sanctioning this exploitative practice in a hopeless bid to contain the dangers associated with it. Sexual consent is not a commodity; sexual abuse can never be made ‘safe’.”

Kat Banyard
Founder of UK Feminista
“Guest Post: ‘The Sex Trade Can Never Be Made ‘Safe’,”
July 7, 2016


10. Government & Taxes

“[Prostitution is] a multimillion-dollar-a-year business in Las Vegas, and nobody gets any taxes off of it… The city and the county could probably make about $25 million a year in taxes off of legalized prostitution…

Right now they spend a lot of money policing vice. Why not eliminate that and turn it into a revenue maker, instead of having to pay to police it? Once you legalize it, you’re going to take out most of the illegal prostitution…

If a consumer has a choice between a legal place of business and an illegal criminal operation, he’s going to go to the legal place. That’s because he knows there’s no problems waiting to happen there.”

Dennis Hof
Nevada brothel owner
“Q+A: Dennis Hof: This Pimp Wants to End Sex Trafficking,”
Mar. 20, 2017

“In 2000 the Dutch government… [legalized] the already massive and highly visible brothel trade… The Dutch government hoped to play the role of the honourable pimp, taking its share in the proceeds of prostitution through taxation. But only 5 per cent of the women registered for tax, because no one wants to be known as a whore – however legal it may be. Illegality has simply taken a new form, with an increase in trafficking, unlicensed brothels and pimping…

Legalisation has not been emancipation. It has instead resulted in the appalling, inhuman, degrading treatment of women… And as the Dutch government reforms itself from pimp to protector, it will have time to reflect on the damage done to the women caught in this calamitous social experiment.”

Julie Bindel
Journalist and Cofounder of Justice for Women
“Why Even Amsterdam Doesn’t Want Legal Brothels,”
Feb. 2, 2013