Criminalising prostitution can have numerous negative long-term effects on sex workers, and is not a sensible way to decrease rates of disease or mortality among sex workers.
A criminal record due to prostitution can create life-long barriers to alternative employment, benefits and accommodation.
Many sex workers may feel trapped in a cycle of prostitution if they already have a criminal record, as their chances of being able to get out of sex work is dramatically decreased due to the reduced availability of other options. This simply serves to worsen the long-term effects, both in terms of the risk of being arrested again and in terms of risk to health.
Additionally, the illegality of prostitution is linked to higher rates of violence and sexually transmitted infections.
Workers have no paths of empowerment and with no safety measures may feel pressured when doing work that is illegal to accept dangerous circumstances.
Having prostitution be an illegal act is not a reliable or sensible way to decrease the rates of long-term harm for workers. Instead, to decrease these issues the emphasis should be on safety and worker empowerment. For instance, ensuring that sex workers feel comfortable reporting violence to the police, turning clients away or enforcing condom use. Under illegality, sex workers do not have access to these recourse options, making it a system that is actively perpetuating negative long-term effects for sex workers.