Is Legal Prostitution a Legitimate Business?

PRO (yes)

Ana Lopes, PhD, President of Britain's General Union (GMB) Sex Workers Branch, wrote "Stigmatising Sex Workers" in the Mar. 2006 Chartist which stated:

"Sex work is legitimate work and problems within the industry are not inherent in the work itself. It is vulnerability, not sex work, which creates victims. Sex workers should enjoy the same labour rights as other workers and the same human rights as other people. Sex workers can only gain the same rights as other workers when the debate is moved from a moral framework and placed in the framework of labour rights."

Mar. 2006 - Ana Lopes, PhD 

Teela Sanders, DPhil, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Leeds, in the article "Blinded by Morality? Prostitution Policy in the UK" in the Summer 2005 Capital & Class, wrote:

"There appears to be a legitimate place for commercial sex in conservative and religious parts of Europe--in Turkey, Portugal, Italy, for instance...

With the underlying assumption that women do not choose to work in prostitution but only use it as a 'survival strategy,' only the extreme ends of coercive prostitution are described...

This one dimensional approach reflects a wider political hypocrisy that accepts and promotes the idea that some parts of a woman's sexuality can be legitimately used as employment, while other aspects are labelled as an immoral or inappropriate use of the body...

[I]t is accepted and encouraged that femininity should be expressed in a certain way...Sex work is not considered a service industry, because the idea of sexual services is viewed through a different lens due to the inherent Christian, middle-class morals attached to the act of sex, as something that is only rightly expressed in heterosexual, monogamous, reproductive relationships."

Summer 2005 - Teela Sanders, DPhil 

John Turley-Ewart, PhD, Deputy Comment Editor for the National Post, wrote the editorial "Lessons from a German Brothel" in the July 7, 2006 issue that stated:

"The assumption underlying much of the bad press Germany has received is that decriminalization is a boon to the underworld. In fact, the opposite is closer to the truth. Prostitution is like any other industry. Make it illegal, and you give criminals a monopoly. Legalize it, and you give law-abiding enterprises a chance to compete...

Moreover, regulated brothels now are operated as legitimate businesses, and so attract professional managers -- as opposed to underworld thugs."

July 7, 2006 - John Turley-Ewart, PhD 

CON (no)

Virada Somswasdi, JD, President of the Foundation for Women, Law and Rural Development (FORWARD), said in a Mar. 9, 2004 speech at Cornell Law School that:

"One needs to completely rid oneself of the voracity for cash to see that prostitution, although legalized, can never be a legitimate business because it will always be associated with crime, corruption, class, mass sexual exploitation and human trafficking."

Mar. 9, 2004 - Virada Somswasdi, JD 

Bodil Kornbek, former Chairperson of Denmark's Christian Democrats, was quoted in the Feb. 20, 2004 Copenhagen Post as having said:

"It's wrong to promote the fact that one person buying another is legitimate. To us, this is nothing more than human trafficking, and it's completely unacceptable."

Feb. 20, 2004 - Bodil Kornbek 

Janice G. Raymond, PhD, former Co-Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), in the article "Legitimating Prostitution as Sex Work: UN Labour Organization (ILO) Calls for Recognition of the Sex Industry," posted to the CATW website (accessed Nov. 28, 2007), wrote:

"[I]t is a travesty that the ILO would now be calling for the economic recognition of prostitution as legitimate work. If women in prostitution are counted as workers, pimps as businessmen, and the buyers as customers, thus legitimating the entire sex industry as an economic sector, then governments can abdicate responsibility for making decent and sustainable employment available to women."

Nov. 28, 2007 - Janice Raymond, PhD 

Donna M. Hughes, PhD, Professor and Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair of the Women's Studies Program at the University of Rhode Island, wrote the Feb. 1999 article "Legalization Will Legitimize the Abuse" posted on her website, that stated:

"Legalization and regulation aim to redefine prostitution as a form of work, indicated by the use of the term 'sex work.' The renaming may clean up the image of prostitution, but it doesn't end the violence and exploitation. It only allows criminals and members of organized crime rings to become legitimate businessmen and work hand-in-hand with the state in marketing women's bodies...

Prostitution is an extreme form of gender discrimination. Legalization of this violence to women restricts women's freedom and citizenship rights. If women are allowed to become a legitimate commodity, they are consigned to a second-class citizenship. Democracy is subverted."

May 11, 2004 - Donna M. Hughes, PhD