The first question that most people raise about prostitution is why some countries legalize this business while some countries do not. However, one thing also came to certainty, that this business is perhaps the oldest profession there is, and it will not disappear regardless of government’s regulation to make it a criminal activity.
The underlying reason why many people are even uncomfortable discussing this issue is quite far from concerns for women’s health and safety. If this were a genuine concern, the US would have already legalized prostitution. It does not quite make sense that women sell their bodies for financial gains with pornography, and sugar dating, while prostitution is viewed illegal due to the same reason of selling their bodies for financial gains. While many other forms of ‘selling bodies for financial gain’ are legalized and done daily, prostitution is the only job that women are told what they can and cannot do, which does not come from a place of morality, but a place of control.
Europe, especially the Netherlands has shown an opposite view towards prostitution from the US. Since legalizing prostitution in 2000, the Netherlands has been more rigorously fighting human trafficking and other forms of criminal activities, which made the Netherlands a global leader in decriminalizing sex work. Although several European governments, including the Netherlands, are far from a perfect system to legalize the business, they have at least improved working conditions for women and fought against the negative stigma surrounding this job.
Unlike pornography that allows the general public to have the benefit of observing, rather, the prostitution industry is honest about the direct relationship between sex and money in which many people are uncomfortable discussing. In a nation where prostitution is illegal, it is even more disturbing to see that women are forced to engage in these black markets due to their financial circumstances, while it could be recognized as a proper job, just like any other professions that people pursue. Currently, prostitutes lack even social security and basic human rights for housing and health services that all citizens of a nation should be given with. Not only it does not align with morals and convictions that the world advocates for, prostitution in black markets mean increased difficulty to regulated increased crime, violence, stigma, and even HIT/STI transmissions that public health officials are most concerned about. Rather than forcing sex workers, both men and women to conduct their businesses in unregulated black markets where their safety is in great danger, getting rid of the mislabeled purpose of “protecting and saving” women to take actual action of legalizing prostitution would save more women in reality.
However, legalizing prostitution does not mean any and everything is allowed. Governments would have to impose strict regulations and establish comprehensive support systems where sex workers can do their jobs safely.