There is no reason to state that prostitution itself is inherently a form of violence against women. The complex relationship between prostitution and violence is a reflection of a misogynistic society in which violence against women permeates every corner, rather than being specific to the act of prostitution itself.
If we are concerned about the violent or misogynistic fantasies that clients are pressuring sex workers to carry out, we should evaluate where these come from. The fantasies precede the client visiting the sex worker. Therefore, to tackle the root of this problem we need to evaluate where these fantasies are coming from and the way in which women are sexualised in a demeaning and violent way throughout society.
Sex worker collectives have repeatedly called for decriminalisation in order to reduce violence against themselves.
The criminalisation of prostitution perpetuates violence against women by making sex workers unable to report violence through fear of prosecution.
Women are unlikely to report violence against them at the hands of customers for this reason, and customers know this, creating an environment where sex workers are essentially at the mercy of their clients. Additionally, under a system of criminalisation many sex workers suffer violence at the hands of police when reporting violence.
Sex workers do not have fair and equal protection to legal protection, as they are treated as criminals instead of being protected. As Goodyear and Cusick state, "Governments and health and social services have a duty of care without discrimination",
and sex workers under criminalisation are being failed in this regard. By criminalising prostitution, rather than offering the victims of violence the opportunity to get help, governments are trapping victims and increasing their vulnerability. Under decriminalisation, on the other hand, sex workers are 70 per cent more likely to report violence at the hands of clients to police.