Should Prostitution Be Decriminalized but Not Regulated?

PRO (yes)

Lacey Sloan, PhD, former Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Maine, in the Fall 1997 Free Inquiry article "Who Owns Prostitution - and Why?," wrote:

"In countries where sex work is regulated, sex workers are stigmatized and placed under scrutiny not required of any other legal worker. Other forms of control enforced in regulated systems include registration of sex workers and 'imprisonment' in brothels or within certain zones... These are but a few examples of the reasons sex workers want prostitution... and sex work decriminalized, not regulated or prohibited."

Fall 1997 - Lacey Sloan, PhD 

The Lancet, in the Aug. 10, 1996 editorial entitled "Buying Sex, Safely," wrote:

"Few commentators have asked what evidence there is to show that herding prostitutes into brothels either benefits their health or improves their safety. What data there are can be extremely confusing. Assumptions thought to be reasonable, may, upon testing, prove not to be so…

Decriminalisation, rather than legalisation, offers a valuable opportunity both to lessen the unnecessary harrassment of prostitutes by police and to assist women in finding safer urban areas to work."

Aug. 10, 1996 - Lancet 

Feminists for Free Expression, in its position paper on prostitution, posted on its website (accessed Mar. 28, 2007), stated:

"Decriminalization allows those who are prostitutes to go into business for themselves. Self-determination is a tenet of feminist politics. Decriminalization removes hypocrisy within the criminal justice system and fosters responsibility, empowerment, self-esteem and self-care."

Mar. 28, 2007 - Feminists for Free Expression (FFE) 

Libby Davies, Member of Canadian Parliament, in a Jan. 22, 2007 press release from the New Democratic Party of Canada, stated that:

"I believe the federal government must come to terms with the contradictions and impossibility of the status quo, and engage in a process of law reform that will lead to the decriminalization of laws pertaining to prostitution and focus criminal sanctions on harmful situations."

Jan. 22, 2007 - Libby Davies 

CON (no)

Dan Gardner, LLB, MA, Columnist and Senior Writer at The Ottawa Citizen, in the Mar. 13, 2006 The Ottawa Citizen article "The Many Faces of Prostitution," wrote:

"Unfortunately, simple images invite simple solutions that don't fit complex realities and can do real harm as a result. Forbid-and-arrest is the simplest and most wrong-headed simplistic solution. But so too is the idea that repealing the criminal law is enough.

What's needed is legalization -- and regulation. It is in the details of regulation that the contours of the complex reality can be mapped and the most effective solutions developed. This may be unsatisfying for ideologues, and it doesn't make for good cut-and-thrust of a newspaper debate, but if... parliamentarians are genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of prostitutes, they might at least consider it."

Mar. 13, 2006 - Dan Gardner, LLB, MA 

The Economist, in its Jan. 6, 2001 editorial "It's Their Business; Time to Legalise Prostitution," stated:

"Libertarians might contend that prostitutes should be free to ply their trade wherever they please. But because prostitution affects people who are neither buyers nor sellers (such as the residents of areas where the trade goes on) and because it involves health hazards it does, like other risky, dirty or noisy industries, require some regulation."

Jan. 6, 2001 - Economist 

Paul R. Abramson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles, Steven D. Pinkerton, PhD, Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Mark Huppin, JD, PhD, co-author, wrote in their 2003 book Sexual Rights in America that:

"[T]he evidence from Nevada suggests that decriminalization, in tandem with legal regulatory schemes, would better protect the health and safety of both prostitutes and their customers."

2003 - Paul R. Abramson, PhD 
Mark Huppin, PhD, JD 
Steven D. Pinkerton, PhD 

Keith Martin, MD, Member of the Canadian Parliament, was quoted in the Oct. 5 2005 article "MPs Want to See Solicitation Legalized" posted on, as having said:

"[Prostitution] should be legalized and regulated for the sake of people who are working in the industry."

Oct. 5, 2005 - Keith Martin, MD