Put on the Red Light

As the great George Carlin once said “If selling is legal and f**king is legal, why isn’t selling f**king legal” I’ve pondered that same funny question for years. There are various reasons why it is not, but like anything else there always two sides to the question.

If you were to ask the average individual they might say it’s because it’s degrading to women, it can potentially increase the number of women who choose (or are forced) into that line of work and let us not forget the moral ramifications associated with the world’s oldest profession. Most people will agree that these are all good points and I do as well.

However, there are reasons for me to believe that those rationales should be overlooked.
Over eighty percent of sex workers polled in U.S. in the nineties claim to have been physically abused or raped. The actual rate of rape is higher in Canada. In Mexico where it is decriminalized and regulated it is far lower. The murder

Street sex workers are at the highest risk for rape or abuse
Street sex workers are at the highest risk for rape or abuse

rate among prostitutes in the United States is 204 per 100,000 making it the most dangerous profession in America.

Aside from the safety issue, it is the amount of money spent on keeping the status quo. Court fees, jail expenses and vice squads. The city of San Francisco in the nineties spent over 7.5 million dollars a year (New York City spent 20 million) to fight prostitution with nothing spent on helping or protecting the street workers. The cost is around two hundred million in the whole of the United States.

While there might be other reasons to justify decriminalization and regulation in the U.S. and Canada akin to the other 22 nations who have done so already, I would like to address the health and safety issue again. Like most societies, we tend to hold health and safety above all else. For many, it’s a basic human right.

So why doesn’t our culture treat our hookers with the same respect when it comes to their health and protection? Prostitution might be morally wrong, but how moral are we being by turning our back on them?

Prostitutes without pimps get beaten and raped by their Johns (clients). Some prostitutes with pimps get beaten by them and their Johns and almost all suffer from some kind of mental or traumatic stress disorder. It is no safe way to live. Something must change in our hearts and in our government’s way of thinking.

Dangerous as it is, most sex workers want a way out.

There are organizations out there, such as STELLA who offers support and information to prostitutes who have been victims of rape and abuse as well as being a loud voice for decriminalization. While their mission is both important and admirable, their funds and directives still fall far short of what’s needed.

Many sex workers get into the business because they desperately need money for their drug addiction or to feed themselves and their kids. 70% to 90% (depending on where they work) of call girls want a way out with proper job training, drug treatments or a proper home. By regulating the profession we can put a stop to the pimps and sleazy strip club managers whose sole purpose is to exploit and control their women.

With proper government control of brothels the sex workers can make more money with better security, have an inside drug treatment center and each brothel could even have their own on site psychiatrist. It wouldn’t even cost the government a dime.   The revenue will come from taxing the prostitutes and Johns alike. Income tax and service tax respectively.

The bottom line is prostitution and other social taboos like drugs have been around ceaselessly for centuries and will always be apart of our underground culture. The least we can do as a responsible society is make it safe and clean for the people who have run out of options or self esteem.

There are over forty million sex workers worldwide. Let us get started.

Please visit the STELLA website at ChezStella.org for more information or to make a donation.

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