Prostitution, or commercial sex, is an occupation where individuals engage in sexual activities for monetary gains. The practice is possibly one of the oldest occupations in the world’s history. While some countries are against the practice, others are making efforts to legalize it. Still, countries such as Sweden, France, Finland, and Israel, have made it a crime for buying sex and decriminalize prostitution. However, Amnesty International, a non-governmental agency that caters for human rights globally, proposes for the decriminalization of sex trade to enhance the human rights of prostitutes. Buying of sex should be declared illegal as a tactic to discourage prostitution.
Buying Of Sex Should Be Illegal
Prostitution has been termed as an institution that have been tarnished by inequality, as people who participate in it are coerced to become prostitutes after being sexually abused. According to the routine activity theory, people make choices concerning their behavior, whether criminal or otherwise, based on the reward or risk, but offenders engage in crime to seek sexual gratification, or to dominate others (Kenyon and Schanz 64). Rousseau’s argument is that prostitution is immoral because it goes against the social contract, thus, denying women civil freedom. According to him, women who enjoy civil freedom end up abusing such freedom when they unwillingly attempt to fulfill the needs of their clients. Routine activity theory is utilized to evaluate predatory crimes, which include sexual offenses and assaults.
Sweden perceive prostitution as sexual inequality where gender-based violence are common while clients are Most children are introduced to prostitution after lacking education and resources that enhance survival. Banning the purchase of sex has resulted in a decline of prostitution in Sweden while the neighboring countries are still grappling with the issue (Waltman n.p). In addition, prostitutes can claim damages when they are assaulted by their clients, as assault is termed as an infringement of equality and dignity.
Prostitution is viewed as a sexual act obliged to a person under pressure. The practice is linked to the general strain theory, where individuals engage in crime due to the feelings that emerge after developing negative relationships with others, particularly during the adolescent stage. When individuals force others into prostitution, they should be punished. This idea is supported by John Locke’s assertion that individuals who enslave others should be perceived as a threat to liberty and life. Clients are not interested with women who practice prostitution, as their intent is to do whatever pleases them merely because they have paid for it. The act of paying bypasses consent, as there is no agreement beyond the amount that a client has to pay. Equally, prostitutes need money to take care of their needs and their families.
France has implemented the law that restricts prostitution, with regard to its international commitments, as well as an attempt to enhance the law on rape, which was passed in 1981 (Mellul and Bouvet n.p). Under the new law, clients would be fined because they inflict mental pain to pain and trauma to prostitutes. The law perceives sex for money as an act of coercion and prostitution incorporates violence, hence, clients should be punished for engaging in activities that contribute to violence. The law ensures that prostitutes would no longer be reduced to a level of abuse and poverty. This implies that women should never be sold or rent to avoid reducing their human dignity.
People should be punished if they interfere with human dignity for profit gains. The action by the French Parliament is a response to the complaints by prostitutes who have admitted to be victims of mental disturbance and physical trauma, inflicted by their clients. Clients treat women as object, as they strive to attain their mental desires. Thus, the decision to punish clients seemed appropriate to reduce violence among the prostitutes. The law would discourage victimization among women, in addition to raising awareness that women are not supposed to be treated as goods in the market.
Women are always fighting for equality, and allowing them to take a fraction of what men earn is to demean their equality status. A nation that claims to be democratic should be aware that decriminalizing the buying of sex, which is normally carried out by men, amounts to inequality. The French Parliament can be lauded for implementing the rule that makes it illegal to buy sex, as it has brought honor to the country. Prostitution is a shameful and undignified practice that should be discouraged in society, as it players, particularly women and girls, are victims of trauma and victimization owing to poor upbringing.
The European Parliament took a similar stand as Sweden in 2014, when it proposed punishing of the clients who purchase sex, to minimize the demand for prostitution. According to the European Parliament resolution, men who pleasure themselves with women’s bodies should be punished, but women who are coerced into sex work should not be criminalized (Persak and Vermeulen 244). The parliament is advocating for the Swedish Model to be adopted throughout the continent, since it seems to be working effectively in Sweden. However, legalizing or not legalizing prostitution is left to individual Member States.
Amnesty International has endeavored to fight for the rights of sex workers, as well as other human rights. According to a recent policy document concerning sex work, Amnesty International not only opposes criminalization of prostitution, but also activities that are involved in the buying and selling of sex among adults (Persak and Vermeulen 244). The agency recommends state regulations to safeguard both parties from violence, threats, or coercion. Amnesty Internation does not support any side with regard to the morality of sex trade, as its focus is to empower individuals’ rights. The agency underlined that sex workers often face increased health risks owing to stigma, as well as criminal sanctions. Criminalizing sex work encourages police abuse and extortion.
Efforts to decriminalize selling of sex globally should not be termed as a progressive movement, as such practice would give men the capacity to buy sex while pimps would take advantage of decriminalization to boost their businesses. Punishing men for buying sex can assist in reducing human trafficking, where millions of women and girls are taken to foreign countries to become sex objects for men.
Proponents of legalizing prostitution claim that prostitution is termed as the world’s oldest occupation because it has been in existence for thousands of years, and most attempts to ban it have proved futile. Countries that criminalize sex trade and decriminalize prostitution are hypocritical because clients depend on prostitutes to carry out their practices while prostitutes cannot survive without clients. Criminalizing clients is akin to training more nurses and then closing all the health facilities. You both stop training nurses so that you can close the facilities, and not vice versa.
Religious groups perceive prostitution as immoral and demeaning, thus, their recommendations are that governments should ban both the clients and prostitutes to enhance morality in society. They claim that they can contribute towards teaching women good morals. Many feminists oppose both sex trade and prostitution because such practices exploit women and make men dominate over women. Prostitution underlines the stereotype view, where women are perceived as sex objects to be exploited by men. This implies that banning the buying of sex does not solve the social ills inflicted by the prostitution.
Decriminalizing prostitution and other activities associated with it can assist in drafting regulations that guide the occupation. Governments can set the minimum age that women can join the profession to avoid child abuse and trauma. Amnesty International is advocating for decriminalizing of both the clients and the prostitutes to protect them from harm, exploitation, and intimidation. Sex workers are likely to conceal the clients who mistreat them to avoid losing income (O’Brien n.p). While the agency is against human trafficking and sexual abuse, sex workers are often marginalized by the law enforcement, who push them to work underground
Countries that are geared to enhance morality in society should make it illegal to buy sex and decriminalize prostitution. This tactic, which has been implemented in Sweden and spread to other European countries, has seen a reduction in prostitution. Decriminalizing prostitution enables prostitutes to report cases of violence, intimidation, and human trafficking to the relevant authority without fear of being detained. However, decriminalizing prostitution and making it illegal for the buying of sex does not solve the social ills of the practice, as clients would turn to underground practices, which would lead to more harm to women and young girls. Amnesty International has recommended for legalizing prostitution to prevent violence against women and allow open negotiations between the clients and prostitutes.
Kenyon, Samuel, and Youngyol Schanz. “Sex trafficking: Examining links to prostitution and the routine activity theory.” International Journal of Criminology and Sociology 3 (2014), pp. 61-76.
Mellul, Yael, and Lise Bouvet. “Why France Is Adopting A New Law That Criminalizes The Clients, Not Prostitutes.” The Huffington Post, Apr 07, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yael-mellul/why-france-is-adopting-a-_b_9635988.html. Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.
O’Brien, Catriona. “Head to head: Why the purchase of sex should not be a criminal offence.”The Irish Times, Aug. 2015. http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/head-to-head-why-the-purchase-of-sex-should-not-be-a-criminal-offence-1.2322075. Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.
Perssak, Nina, and G Vermeulen. Reframing Prostitution: From Discourse to Description, from Moralisation to Normalisation?. Maklu, 2014.
Waltman, Max. “Criminalize Only the Buying of Sex.” The New York Times, August 24, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/04/19/is-legalized-prostitution-safer/criminalize-buying-not-selling-sex Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.