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Gwen Landolt

Normalizing prostitution helps nobody

It sounds so simple: legalize prostitution, allow legal brothels or prostitutes working out of their homes, and license and tax prostitution as a regular business. Then prostitutes will be off the streets and safe from harm, and will no longer be spreading sexually transmitted diseases because of regular medical check-ups. However, experience in other jurisdictions, such as Sweden and Australia, has shown these expectations to be pure fantasy.The truth is that legalizing prostitution solves nothing and creates more problems. The immediate result of decriminalizing prostitution is that all forms of prostitution boom, with the unregulated business often exceeding legal prostitution in growth. For example, in Amsterdam, prostitutes exposed in the windows of legal brothels are still outnumbered by the prostitutes continuing to illegally work the streets. In effect, legalized prostitution creates two separate sex businesses, with the illegal market frequently larger than the legal one.Moreover, there is no evidence for the theory that working from a legalized brothel decreases the harm of prostitution. Pimps do not suddenly become nice guys when operating a legal brothel; madams in brothels are not less coercive of their charges; johns do not change their behaviour. In short, violence, sexual abuse and coercion happen in brothels as on the streets.Amsterdam is noted for its notorious red light district, where prostitutes publicly display themselves in street windows, and brothels have up to three panic buttons in every room. Several years ago, authorities had to shut down at least a third of these establishments because organized crime was using these premises for purposes of criminal activity, including drug and human trafficking.Many working in brothels become addicted to drugs because of the nature and stress of the job. This would exacerbate Canada’s drug problems, for police make few checks on brothels, and they quickly become ideal locations for… Read More