Don't Legalize Brothels

In a recent editorial, Sherwood Park News editor Michael Di Massa argues for the legalization of brothels. I submitted a letter in response, but apparently the paper has a policy of not publishing letters from candidates for public office.

Here, therefore is the original column (http://www.sherwoodparknews.com/2014/04/10/its-time-to-consider-legalizing-brothels), and below is my response:

 

“In a recent editorial, Michael Di Massa recounts a conversation with 1 police officer to suggest that legalizing brothels won't increase human trafficking. Whether or not this officer knew it, the evidence paints a very different picture. The evidence, particularly out of Europe, shows that legalizing prostitution significantly increases trafficking and other forms of exploitation.

 

In 1999, Denmark decriminalized prostitution. In the same year, Sweden passed a law to keep prostitution illegal and to focus on prosecuting johns and pimps instead of prostitutes. Today, Denmark has 4 times the rate of human trafficking that Sweden does, despite having half the population. The increase in trafficking is why the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Lodewijk Asscher, has called legalization "a national mistake". Legalizing prostitution makes it much easier for traffickers to operate.

 

Di Massa argues that many women consent to enter prostitution. In reality, according to a study done in Chicago, 62% of prostitutes entered the 'profession' before the age of 18, and 35% entered before the age of 15. A study in San Francisco found that 70% of women and girls in this 'industry' were sexually assaulted an average of 31 times. 65% were physically abused or beaten an average of 4 times. So much for consent. These American numbers come from jurisdictions where prostitution is illegal, but data indicates a very high rate of violence against women in escort services as well, which are legal.

 

The focus of background given in the Sherwood Park News editorial was on one particular county in Nevada. I’m not sure exactly what the situation is there, but it seems unlikely to assume that their experience is radically different from that of other jurisdictions who have legalized prostitution or, more importantly for our purposes, that our experience would be any different from the negative experience of Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and many other jurisdictions. Legalization has been championed by those who claim rates of sexual assault, violence, and trafficking would decrease in a legal environment, but there is no evidence whatsoever to demonstrate that. In fact, as mentioned, there is strong evidence to the contrary.

 

Let's make public policy based on evidence. Legalized prostitution has been a failure everywhere that it has been tried. Approaches which target johns and pimps have worked to protect vulnerable women and society.”

 

For more information about the negative impacts of legalizing prostitution, see this much longer piece in the Telegraph: http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/welcome-to-paradise/