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What should the legal status of prostitution be? Show more Show less

Sometimes called ‘the world’s oldest profession’, prostitution holds a complex cultural place. While it is underpinned by gender norms and has been linked to violence, it also represents a source of agency for some and a viable career option for many. Should it be treated like any other job by the state? And if the state wishes to curtail prostitution, is making it illegal the best option?

Prostitution should be decriminalised Show more Show less

There should be no laws around prostitution that separate it from any other profession.
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Decriminalisation would relieve prostitution's stigma

By decriminalising prostitution, we can eliminate the stigma attached to prostitution.
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Stigmatisation has far reaching negative effects, leading to a loss of quality of life as well as declines in mental and physical health.[1]

The Argument

The stigma attached to sex work can perpetuate the marginalisation of sex workers, increasing their vulnerability.[2] Stigma also has a severe negative impact on sex workers’ dignity and self-respect. Making sex work illegal only serves to give credence to these beliefs. The stigma attached to prostitution does not discourage people from entering the profession, it only serves to shame those who are already sex workers. By keeping prostitution illegal, the state is signalling that this stigma is necessary and legitimate. Decriminalisation prostitution would demonstrate the necessity for sex workers to be considered as worthy of rights as much as any other person.

Counter arguments

The stigma against prostitution is necessary if prostitution is to be eradicated.[3] The stigma is important, not to shame sex workers, but so that young women do not believe that prostitution is a viable career choice.



[P1] The illegality of prostitution perpetuates stigma against sex workers. [P2] This stigma has a negative impact on sex workers, serving to worsen their marginalisation.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] The stigma against sex workers does not have a negative impact; it is necessary to discourage women from entering prostitution and assuming the risks involved.


Further Reading



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This page was last edited on Thursday, 23 Jan 2020 at 12:51 UTC