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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 legalised Show more Show less

Countries like Austria and the Netherlands have adopted a system of legalisation rather than decriminalisation, under which sex work is legal only under conditions dictated by the state.
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Government oversight of prostitution would improve all outcomes

The legalisation of prostitution ensures Governments can regulate prostitution to reduce social ills.
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The practice of legalisation can encompass all manner of laws to regulate prostitution, such as permitted locations and advertising laws. This means that each government can individually decide the parameters within which they will allow prostitution.

The Argument

This approach is taken in order to preserve the rights of sex workers, providing services like unionisation and police protection, while trying to decrease certain negative effects prostitution such as crime or the spread of sexually transmitted infections.[1] This means that sex workers will not be punished as long as they stay within the designated legal parameters as dictated by the government and that the government can, therefore, regulate and oversee prostitution, keeping sex workers safer.

Counter arguments

By overseeing its legalisation, the state is sanctioning prostitution and profiting off of it. This prioritises the consumer over the prostitute’s health and safety.[2] A It is also not a given that the state will be able to dictate policies that will protect sex workers, listen to sex workers when producing policies, or indeed have sex worker’s best interests at heart. Sex workers may have to continue working under criminal conditions if they are unable to meet state requirements.



[P1] Regulation of prostitution is best left to the state.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The state does not necessarily know how best to protect sex workers.


Further Reading


This page was last edited on Thursday, 23 Jan 2020 at 12:59 UTC