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Why Prostitution should not be legalized?

Mohit Yadav

Merriam Webster dictionary defines prostitution as "the act or practice of engaging in
promiscuous sexual relations especially for money".
It is one of the oldest professions in the
world exploiting woman since its perception. It has been argued on several accounts that if
prostitution is legalized then the exploitation of woman could be stopped as they would then
have the availability of legal redressal for the same and several other similar benefits. I am
analysing all these merits of legalization of prostitution to show that they do more harm than
benefit to the victims of prostitution.
The foremost reason put by those in favour of prostitution is that right to prostitution falls
under the right to profession
given by our constitution. Indeed it is true that our constitution
gives us the right to profession but it's subjected to public order and morality. One may argue
that who has the right to decide whether prostitution is moral or immoral and it is for a
woman to decide and if the woman thinks that it is moral with her own free choice then she
should be allowed to do so. However can prostitution ever be a free choice, International
Labour Organization report states that woman chose to become prostitutes due to economic
reasons and not free choice.
Diana Post an attorney and human right activist argues that
prostitution offers as much as of free choice as given to those cattle which are squeezed in
cages chosen to be slaughtered.
A study was conducted by an international NGO called
CATW (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women) in which law enforcer were interviewed
and 67 % of these officers said that women do not enter into the field of prostitution
All these studies show that there is no free choice for voluntarily prostitution.
Those in favour of decriminalization of prostitution often argue that prostitution is a
'victimless crime'
. This argument is without any merits as prostitution creates an
environment in which crime against men or women becomes commercial activity with legal
sanctions of the law. The fact that prostitutes are paid for sex does not change anything the
bottom line still remains the same that is these people involved in the profession of
prostitution still face sexual abuse, rape and physical violence.
In the study conducted by
CATW 146 victims of human trafficking involved in prostitution were interviewed. These
victims are spread over five nations and the study concluded that 80% of these women have

1 accessed on 9 October 2012 at 3:03 PM
Article 25, Part III, Constitution of India
3 accessed on 9 October 2012 at 3:34
Post, Dianne," Legalizing prostitution: A systematic rebuttal", Off Our Backs,Jul99, Vol. 29 Issue 7
Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: Links Between International and Domestic Sex Industries,
Funded by the U.S. National Institute of Justice. N. Amherst, MA: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
6 accessed on 9 October
2012 at 5:28 PM
Female Juvenile Prostitution: Problem and Response, National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children,1992

suffered some form of physical abuse either from the customer or the panderer.
Thus the last
thing that prostitution could be characterised with is 'victimless crime'.
Human trafficking is another crime which is deeply associated with prostitution. United
Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols defines human
trafficking as " Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring
or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of
abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of
the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having
control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation."
Some expert in favour of
decriminalization believes that human trafficking could only be stopped if prostitution is
However one could never curb the evil of trafficking completely until side by
side work is done on abolishing prostitution. Infact most of the woman who are found
indulging in prostitution in countries where it is legal are actually victims of human
A report by a governmental agency in Budapest states that as many as eighty
percent of all women in Netherland's brothels are victims of human trafficking.
This clearly
shows if prostitution is legalized human trafficking is bound to increase.
Those who are pro legalization of prostitution argue that legalization would reduce
prevalence of rape in the society.
The reality is quite the opposite as no matter what
prostitution at the end of the day is nothing more than but paid rape. A society in which a
woman can be bought for satisfying sexual intimacies is the society in which rape would
An illustration could be say in a society where prostitution is illegal a woman is
forced to do sex then she could bring a legal action against the person being the act of forced
sex itself illegal whereas in a society where prostitution is legal if a prostitute is forced to do
sex then it would be very difficult for her to bring a legal action as the accused could always
take the defence that the intercourse was mutual and it would be very difficult for the victim
to prove lack of consent. Hence in a way legalization would result into even more instances
of rape.
Talking in sociological context prostitution is a threat to the structure of the family which is
the building block of the society. In US v Bitty
, US Supreme Court was of the view that the
lives of prostitutes are in conflict with the idea of family which endorses holy union of a man
and a woman which provides for morality which is the source of all political and social
progress of the country. The idea of a mother who is indulged in sex industry sets the wrong

supra note 5
9 accessed on 10 October
2012 at 8:07 PM
Wijers, Marjan, "Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance, and Redefinition", p. 69-78
Margareta Winberg ,Former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Speech in Stockholm, Nov. 5-6, 2002 from accessed on 9 October 2012 at 7:34
(1999, June), "The Relationship Between Organized Crime and Trafficking in Aliens", Austria: International
Centre for Migration Policy Development
Cundiff ,Kirby R. , " Prostitution and Sex Crimes", Independent Institute Working Paper Number 50
April 8, 2004
14 accessed on 11 October 2012 at 6:46 PM
208 U.S. 393 (1908)

tone for family life, it not only cast negative impact on children but if legalized it gives an
opportunity to men to indulge in sex with multiple partner hence attacking the structure of

Another interesting argument is that of practicality no matter how much pro legalization
argue based on different formulas, theories etc but when we do a case study of countries
which infact have made the prostitution legal the conclusion which we could draw is
horrifying. In Netherlands mafia lords took over the prostitution business and as a result the
mayor of Amsterdam had to close as many as 30% of all the brothels in the city
Legalization in state of Victoria has lead to a ratio of 3:1 of illegal brothel to legal brothel;
also Victoria has the highest instances of child prostitution across the country.
Netherlands the number of child prostitute has risen from 4,000 to whooping 15,000

another statement showing how legalising prostitution works in reality.
Due to above mentioned reasons one could establish the fact that legalization of prostitution
is an evil which is not the cure to the problem but a catalyst which if used only worsen the

16 accessed on 11 October 2012 at 7:23 PM
cohen-we-only-want-to-get-rid-of-some-of-the-prostitution/ accessed on 11 October 2012 at 7:29 PM
18 accessed on 11 October 2012 at 7:45 PM