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Legalize prostitution to protect youth from killers & STDs

by Mike Heral

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T

he idea behind legalized abortion is a woman’s right to choose. Alternatively, she can receive living expenses while placing her unborn baby up for adoption. So, why is it illegal for her to profit from the act of sex itself? Let’s end the double standard and legalize prostitution.

The face of prostitution is changing. It’s no longer just a drug-addled woman forced onto lonely street corners. The new face belongs to former Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton, and according to Internet matchmaking service seekingarrangement.com, it’s also the face of a coed. This website matches young adults with “sugar daddies” or “sugar mommies” who will pamper them and provide financial assistance in exchange for companionship and, presumably, sex. Students who choose an alternate path to pay tuition, earn thousands of dollars per month according to the website. Prostitution shouldn’t involve risk of prosecution whenever two consenting adults get together. Not all sex is based on love.

Men frequent prostitutes most, so it’s only fair to ask if we’d want our daughters in the industry. I have a college-aged daughter. I wouldn’t want her to face today’s existing risks. But I also wouldn’t want her working as a stripper or a porn starlet. Unlike prostitution, those jobs are legal. Strippers might not go all the way, but porn stars clearly get paid to have sex. It’s perplexing to understand why sex on film is legal while getting paid for sex elsewhere isn’t.

I can’t blame a millennial generation-aged coed from feeling beleaguered enough to seek a sugar daddy. Their job outlook is lagging behind most demographics. Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit that educates young Americans about the nation’s financial issues, reports the December 2012 unemployment rate for 18- to-29-year-olds is 11.5 percent. It’s 16.3 percent when factoring in those who’ve stopped seeking work. With parents only beginning to emerge from the super recession, bleak student employment prospects and increasing tuition, students turn to loans. As a result, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports student loans now exceed $1 trillion. Rather than a coed starting his or her post-collegiate life with savings, Americans insist he or she graduates in debt. All because they cannot stomach an escort not pretending to be something she’s not, such as a stripper or porn starlet.

Prostitution is illegal in most of the U.S. today solely because Americans say it’s an affront to morality. American moral outrage, though, has a habit of changing. It did with alcohol twice. It continues to change regarding marijuana and homosexuality. Therefore, it can with prostitution, too. There’s justifiable moral outrage with prostitution, but it shouldn’t be with either the prostitute or the john.

But what is morally wrong with a woman of age voluntarily using her body to make money? After all, Americans allow it at strip clubs nationwide. But because of ties to organized crime, strip clubs are often examples of what is wrong with the sex industry. There has to be a better way. Websites, such as seekingarrangement.com, can provide a better way if they eliminate the unsavory boss (or pimp) from the equation. The result ought to be a safer work environment for the individual.

Yet it isn’t because escorts must stay hidden, needlessly placing them in danger. Anonymity allows people, such as Philip Markoff, to thrive. Americans might not know Markoff by name, but say “the Craigslist killer” and Markoff is instantly recognizable. He was arrested for killing a masseuse he met via Craigslist. He was also accused of robbing two others: an escort and exotic dancer. Indicted, he committed suicide prior to being tried. Any coed seeking a sugar daddy risks meeting the next Markoff.

Legalizing the service moves both parties out of the shadows. While discretion may still be in order, either an agency or the worker can use online identification programs, such as VeriSign, to verify the identity of the client. This reduces the likelihood of a Craigslist killer operating with impunity. In addition safety from dangerous clients, national legalization could mandate monthly sexually transmitted disease exams. Customers could also be required to provide certification. Today, sex workers are likely reticent to draw attention to their illicit life by divulging STDs and surely no one checks customers for STDs. A man with HIV is able to spread it at will.

Individuals voluntarily selling themselves should not be guilty of a crime. An individual purchasing temporary companionship should also not be guilty. Done right, legalized prostitution won’t turn the U.S. into the dystopian Hilldale Marty McFly encountered in “Back to the Future Part II.” Instead, it’ll result in empowerment, decreased STD transmission and reduced crime. It’s an idea whose time has come.

 

 

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Legalize prostitution to protect youth from killers & STDs”

  1. Maggie McNeill on February 1st, 2013 2:57 pm

    Thanks very much for the support, but I do have one minor quibble. You wrote: “It’s no longer just a drug-addled woman forced onto lonely street corners.” Actually it never was; there have been prostitutes of every social class and situation in all countries throughout history. Up until the 19th century, we were often the most educated women in any given culture, and many of us were philosophers, poetesses, nurses and companions to kings.

    I understand it’s an easy stereotype to fall back on, but we need our allies not to buy into these myths! 🙂

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