Would Legal Prostitution Decrease Sexual Violence Such as Rape?

PRO (yes)

Kirby R. Cundiff, PhD, Associate Professor of Finance at Northeastern State University, wrote the Apr. 8, 2004 working paper entitled "Prostitution and Sex Crimes," for the Independent Institute, that stated:

"It is estimated that if prostitution were legalized in the United States, the rape rate would decrease by roughly 25% for a decrease of approximately 25,000 rapes per year...

[T]he analysis seems to support the hypothesis that the rape rate could be lowered if prostitution was more readily available. This would be accomplished in most countries by its legalization."

Apr. 8, 2004 - Kirby R. Cundiff, PhD 

Linda M. Rio Reichmann, JD, an undergraduate student at the time of the quote, who later became Director of the American Bar Association's (ABA) Child Custody Pro Bono Project, stated in an Apr. 1991 Archives of Sexual Behavior article titled "Psychological and Sociological Research and the Decriminalization or Legalization of Prostitution":

"A study conducted in Queensland... show[ed] a 149% increase in the rate of rape when legal brothels were closed in 1959, while other offenses against the person by males increased only 49%."

Apr. 1991 - Linda M. Rio Reichmann, JD 

Khushwant Singh, the late columnist and novelist, wrote in the Sep. 28, 2002 The Tribune (India) article enititled "How A Rapist Should Be Punished" that:

"[A] necessary step [to prevent rape] is to legalise prostitution — carried out in brothels or by call-girls — provided the sex workers are adults and have not been forced into the trade. The more you try to put down prostitution, the higher will be the incidence of crime against innocent women. You may find the idea repulsive but ponder over it and you will realise there is substance in the argument."

Sep. 28, 2002 - Khushwant Singh 

CON (no)

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) Australia branch posted on their website "Frequently Asked Questions About Prostitution" (accessed Mar. 8, 2007) that stated:

"[I]n cases of gang rape by sportsmen in Australia in 2004, it has become clear that the use of prostituted women and strip clubs is integral to the womanhating and male bonding which led to the sexual violence. The argument also suggests that women who are not prostituted are safer because some other women are set aside to be commercially raped on their behalf. Women's equality requires that all women should be free from sexual exploitation. Prostitution cannot eliminate rape when it is itself bought rape. The connection between rape and prostitution is that women are turned into objects for men's sexual use; they can be either bought or stolen. A culture in which women can be bought for use is one in which rape flourishes."

Mar. 8, 2007 - Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) 

Safer Society Foundation, Inc. (then known as Prison Research Education Action Project), in the 1976 Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists, wrote:

"Three cities which allowed open prostitution experienced a decline in rape after prostitution was again prohibited. Rapists include men who do not patronize prostitutes. Rapists include men who have 'girlfriends,' or are married, or living with women. Statistical studies of reported rapes show that the majority of rapists are well below the age of males who most frequently use prostitutes. Finally, in Vietnam, brothels for the American military were officially sanctioned and incorporated into the base-camp recreation areas and yet G.I. rape and sexual abuse of Vietnamese women and girls is one of the most atrocious chapters of violence in U.S. history."

1976 - Safer Society Foundation Inc. 

Melissa Farley, PhD, Founding Director of the Prostitution Research and Education, in the Oct. 2004 journal Violence Against Women article "Bad for the Body, Bad for the Heart," wrote:

"Legal sex businesses provide locations where sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and violence against women are perpetrated with impunity. State-sponsored prostitution endangers all women and children in that acts of sexual predation are normalized..."

Oct. 2004 - Melissa Farley, PhD