Do Prostitutes Want Prostitution Legalized?

PRO (yes)

Margo St. James, Founder of Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE) and former prostitute, was quoted in the Mar. 5-11, 1998 article "Margo St. James on the Power of Sex and Dangerous Beauty" in the Sonoma County Independent, as having said:

"There's such a stigma about the money!... Well, that's the big taboo: sleeping with men for money. It's perfectly legal--in this state anyway--for a woman to have sex with anyone she chooses, at any time. But the minute five cents changes hands--then boom! She's a whore, and she goes to jail. It's ludicrous."

Mar. 5-11, 1998 - Margo St. James 

Carol Leigh, Founder of Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network (BAYSWAN) and former prostitute, said on "Justice Talking" on National Public Radio (NPR) on Mar. 4, 2002 that:

"Decriminalization is not at all a solution to every injustice that exists in the sex industry; it is a starting point. If prostitution were not an underground activity it would allow us to much more effectively address the serious problems of forced prostitution and juvenile prostitution and the other abuses which are part of an industry that operates completely in the shadows. ...[T]here are many who... want other options and they should be given alternatives and assistance. And then there are also those who organize for their rights and are not quitting at the moment and they should be afforded options, their rights, and self-determination as well. Whatever ills are attendant to prostitution, criminalization of prostitutes exacerbates the abuse."

Mar. 4, 2002 - Carol Leigh 

Tracy Quan, author and former prostitute, in the Feb. 25, 2003 Philadelphia Inquirer editorial "U.S. Lags on Sex Laws," wrote:

"Acknowledging that prostitutes have basic rights — that we are an important part of every society — is no longer radical. Those who refuse to do so, those who continue to defend the persecution and arrest of sex workers, are increasingly seen as extremists. America's prostitution policies are so backward in comparison to those of most advanced countries — and a number of developing ones — that we provoke sarcastic comparisons with Islamic theocracies. Given our self-image as a secular democracy, this is more than embarrassing. It's bizarre."

Feb. 23, 2003 - Tracy Quan 

Norma Jean Almodovar, Executive Director of Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE) LA and Southern California and former prostitute, wrote in a Jan. 2, 2007 e-mail to

"As a long time sex worker rights activist, I believe that a system of decriminalization of all private, consenting adult commercial sex would be of greatest benefit to those in the sex industry...

Treat adult women who become prostitutes as adults who are capable of making choices for their own lives. Stop trying to impose moral or social values on us and then tell us 'it's for our own good!!!!'"

Jan. 2, 2007 - Norma Jean Almodovar 

CON (no)

Andrea Dworkin, author and former prostitute, in an Oct. 21, 1992 speech at University of Michigan Law School's symposium "Prostitution: From Academia to Activism," said:

"I ask you to think about your own bodies--if you can do so outside the world that the pornographers have created in your minds, the flat, dead, floating mouths and vaginas and anuses of women. I ask you to think concretely about your own bodies used that way. How sexy is it? Is it fun? The people who defend prostitution and pornography want you to feel a kinky little thrill every time you think of something being stuck in a woman. I want you to feel the delicate tissues in her body that are being misused. I want you to feel what it feels like when it happens over and over and over and over and over and over and over again: because that is what prostitution is."

Oct. 31, 1992 - Andrea Dworkin 

Norma Hotaling, Executive Director of the Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE) Project and former prostitute, said in her Apr. 28, 2005 testimony to the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology that:

"As long as we point the finger away from ourselves, away from the institutions that blame and criminalize women and children for their own rape, sexual abuse, trafficking and slavery, away from the men who we normalize as 'Johns,' and as long as we disconnect adult prostitution and the exploitation of children and disconnect prostitution and trafficking in human beings for the purposes of rape and sex slavery; then we are to blame and we have assisted in creating well-funded transnational criminal networks – dollar by dollar."

Apr. 28, 2005 - Norma Hotaling 

Christine Stark, author and former prostitute, said on "Justice Talking" on National Public Radio (NPR) on Mar. 4, 2002 that:

"[Y]ou don't legalize organized rape. You just don't do that. What we have found is that legalization has caused an increase in the trafficking into the area where the legalization exists. The state then becomes the pimp… Legalizing prostitution creates more demand and mainstreams abuse of women and children."

Mar. 4, 2002 - Christine Stark, MFA 

Anne Bissell, Founder of Sex Industry Survivors Anonymous and former prostitute, was quoted in the Sep. 23, 2004 story "Sex Industry Comes To Toledo" on WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio, as having said:

"[T]hey don't understand if you legalize prostitution it's actually going to increase trafficking. So there's a lot of things people don't understand because of the glamour around this business."

Sep. 23, 2004 - Anne Bissell