Legalizing Prostitution

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Legalizing prostitution


Prostitution is defined as “the act or practice of indulging in promiscuous sexual relations especially for money” (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). Often referred to as the oldest profession, prostitution has existed throughout history and across cultures. Written reference to prostitutes can be found as far back as the Babylonian period in 2400 BCE. Although both prostitution and the act of soliciting a prostitute are illegal in every state in America except Nevada, the existence of a commercial sex industry in the United States cannot be denied.

Sex Worker Unions and Case for Legalizing Prostitution

Some argue that prostitution is a form of labor and should be protected as such. In countries such as Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Norway, and Singapore certain forms of prostitution are legally sanctioned. Regulation by the state often includes licensing and regulation of brothels and mandatory health checks to prevent the spread of diseases such as AIDS. Decriminalization of prostitution allows sex workers the option of going to the police after being raped or violently assaulted by a customer or their manager. In the United States, several groups of sex workers seek to decriminalize prostitution. They view their work as an outgrowth of the service industry and seek to abolish laws that call for the arrest and prosecution of those who sell sex. These groups include COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), a group founded in 1973 by Margo St. James; PONY (Prostitutes of New York), who work to promote professional standards within the industry; and HOOK, a project by, for, and about men in the sex industry. HOOK hosts a Web site that offers legal, health, tax, and investment advice for male prostitutes in America. In the United States, prostitution is legal in only a few counties in Nevada that do not exceed a certain number of inhabitants. It remains illegal in the major Nevada cities such as Las Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe. Even in the counties where prostitution is legal, streetwalking is not permitted, and prostitutes must be registered, have regular health checks, and work only in licensed brothels. Sex workers who do not follow state guidelines may be fined or lose their license. Nevada's conservative legislators have made repeated attempts to abolish prostitution in the state. However, wealthy members of the Nevada Brothel Association have helped to keep prostitution legal.

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