The Legalising Of Prostitution Criminology Essay

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Society has come a long way in accepting social culture which was deemed as controversial or taboo, which its negative notions are solely based on morality. Such controversies include legalising abortion in Canada or accepting Gay rights, which both are seen upon as heinous and a blasphemy, mainly due to morality. Recently, the issue at hand, which has been quite popular on the media radar, is legalizing prostitution. Much of the opposition of legalizing prostitution are motivated on a moral basis. The opposition cannot see the potential profit involved in legalising prostitution, not only in wealth but the profit of safer practices in all areas involved. Legalising prostitution will only bring positive effects to the table.

In the early centuries of colonisation, one of the main goals alongside establishing colonies was to promote Christianity throughout the world. Through colonisation, these traditional Christian views still exist today and in many cases those views are considered to be widely accepted, though highly motivated by morality. A considerable majority of those opposed to prostitution view the world through a different lens, mainly through morality. In Blinded by morality? Prostitution policy in the UK, Sociologist Teela Sanders, of the United Kingdom, suggests "sex is not considered a service industry, because the idea of sexual services is viewed through a lens due to the inherent Christian, middle-class morals attached to the act of sex, as something that is only rightly expressed in heterosexual, monogamous, reproductive relationships". Although this notion of sex is the most traditional and common belief among many people, not everyone is morally motivated to restrain from buying sexual services. It would be nearly impossible to rid of prostitutes and the demand for them.

The matter of prostitution can be similarly compared to the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's. In 1919, the 'Volstead act' did not ban the possession or consumption of alcohol, but prohibited the manufacturing, transportation, and the sale of alcohol with more than 0.5% alcohol content (Hall 2010) . In Canada, prostitution is technically not illegal, but laws which surround prostitution make it virtually impossible for prostitutes to offer or provide their services to potential clients, without breaking the law. Similarly to the prohibition where the mere consumption of alcohol was not legal, but the ways in which to legally obtain alcohol were nearly impossible at the time. During the prohibition, alcohol was banned on morals grounds. Women saw alcohol as a weapon corrupting society, but the effects of the prohibition actually corrupted society. Australia's University of Queensland's Professor of Public Health Policy, Wayne Hall, critically discusses the American prohibition of the 1920's in What are the policy lessons of National Alcohol Prohibition in the United States, 1920-1933?, Hall finds that "though the prohibition did reduce the alcohol use per capita, it came at a socio-economic cost with increased crime rates and corruption, disrespect for the law and foregone tax revenue". Like prostitution, socially speaking, criminalising the act causes an increase in crime rates because many other crimes are committed in association to mainly street-prostitution, and the benefits of regulated legalised prostitution would bring an immense amount of prosperity to the economy.

Legalising prostitution and then regulating it in a way similar to the Australian prostitution laws would provide a safe sex industry and the economy would also prosper from the tax revenue which would flow in effortlessly. It is not illegal in Australia to sell sex; however, Australian law criminalises some forms of prostitution, such as street prostitution in many residential areas, close proximities to schools, religious buildings, and many other restrictions which make it difficult for street prostitutes (Australian Institute of Criminology 1990). Each region of Australia has prostitution laws which accommodate their location, which Canada could follow accordingly to different provinces. Prostitutes are allowed to work only in areas which are permitted by the law. As a part of a regulated industry, safe sex would be the top priority. By regulating prostitution, prostitutes who are a harm to their clients and to themselves can be "filtered out" by mandatory tests which can determine if they are fit to work or not. "Higher end" prostitutes or "escorts", or even prostitutes who practice safe sex and mainly work indoors should not have to carry the stigma that all prostitutes spread sexually transmitted infections or carry such illnesses, nor should they be held back or penalised for offering their much demanded sexual services. Those who are not in favour of legalising prostitution, or support negative sanctions for prostitutes, see a down side for medical examinations and check-ups, the opposition claims that there will be a "black market" for prostitution, for those who cannot pass medical examinations. Those who do not pass will sell their services for a fraction of what the legal prostitutes would sell their services for. It would seem to better the society if there was an existence of a smaller "black market," than the current Canadian system, where all prostitution is considered as a "black market". Even though there is a possible market for "illegitimate services," there will always be a safe arena to find services, which are guaranteed a safe option.

In addition to safety regarding health, prostitutes will also be able to feel and gain safety by the means of protection from the police. Currently, when female prostitutes are in involved in situations which include violence and or rape they often go unreported, this is mainly because prostitutes feel that if they report it, they will be caught, blamed, and penalised for their illegal activity (Weitzer 2012). Due to this fear there is little which is done. In addition, since prostitution is virtually "not legal" in Canada, if it were to be reported, many have the negative notion that these women are responsible for their own actions and many police officers address the problem with reluctance. Since prostitution carries a stigma, these women are not treated as someone who has broken the law, but treated as "dirty people". Tamara O'Doherty of Simon Fraser University interviewed ten women regarding women's perceptions of how the criminal law relating to prostitution has an impact on prostitutes working in the off-street Canadian sex industry. O'Doherty's results conclude that the criminalisation of prostitution has various effects on the health and safety of prostitutes who work indoor. According to O'Doherty, "workers are alienated from the protective services of police; they are often misinformed about their legal rights in Canada; they face personal, legal, and social consequences for association with a criminalized activity; their abilities to mitigate risk are severely limited by the criminalization of ancillary activities related to prostitution; and their health is directly affected by the isolation and stress that accompany marginalized labour". O'Doherty's research shows a great deal of suffering for Canadian indoor prostitutes. Criminalising prostitution takes a toll on the health of the workers and it does not preserve their rights, nor does it provide them with the safety they deserve. Legalising and regulating prostitution, puts prostitutes at ease, and gives them all a sense of comfort in reporting violent incidents while working. Since it will be a legal practice, law enforcement is obliged to help these women as law abiding citizens, who have been victims of crime, without bias, or the tainted perception that they are helping "criminals".

A considerable amount of consequences occur from criminalising prostitution. In Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business by Ronald Weitzer, he states that penalising prostitution via fines and arrests have little deterrent effects on prostitutes, and they are likely to return to selling their services. Also, the negative belief that legalising prostitution poses an increase in sexually transmitted infections is easily preventable. Nicole Franck Masenior and Chris Beyrer with the Center for Public Health and Human Right in the United States, critically recommend through their research that HIV can be prevented by empowering, organizing, and making unions for prostitutes. In addition, it may also prevent underage prostitution, reduce the amount of violence, and even prevent unwanted pregnancies (Masenior and Beyrer 2007).

Criminalising prostitution is also unconstitutional. A case which has been quite popular in the news where Canadian sex worker, Terri-Jean Bedford, along with two of her fellow sex workers, took legal action and challenged the Superior courts of Ontario and British Columbia. Bedford's claim was that the current laws which surrounded prostitution in the Canadian Criminal Code of 1985 violate the Charter of rights; they also increase risks for sex workers while working, and even while not working (Bedford v. Canada, 2010). While, criminalising prostitution includes many negative downsides, legalising it would reduce the number crimes associated and surrounding prostitution.

Human trafficking has been commonly associated with organised prostitution, but not all trafficked persons are used for this purpose; many are also brought in for other forms of "cheap labour". Prostitution, legalised or criminalised, does not stop human trafficking. Human trafficking, like prostitution will always exist, but with legalisation we can help combat those who are involved with human trafficking. In a document prepared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Criminal Intelligence, in collaboration with Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre, "project SECLUSION" provides some insight on human trafficking in Canada, and mentions programs which are set up by the RCMP to combat and disrupt organized migrant smuggling and human trafficking. The Program involves six regional sections across Canada, and one policy centre located in RCMP Headquarters in Ottawa. The Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre (HTNCC) was created within the Immigration and Passport Branch at Headquarters. The objective of the HTNCC is to provide a central point for law enforcement in their efforts to combat, disrupt and ultimately avoid criminal organizations involved in human trafficking activities. Main priorities include the development of tools, protocols and guidelines; the coordination of national awareness and training, and the development and maintenance of international and national partnerships (RMCP and HTNNC 2010). With the large sum of tax revenue flowing in from the legalisation of prostitution, there would be more money available for RCMP budgets, and more money provided to help these sorts of programs. In addition, with the money available, these programs will surely be able to grow and improve, and ultimately there will be a visible decline in human trafficking of all sorts. The criminalising of prostitution does not stop or put a halt to human trafficking, if anything, legalising prostitution would lessen the amount of trafficking happening considering the programs the RCMP are implementing. The focus for the criminal justice system and money being spent on preventing and combatting prostitution can be shifted elsewhere.

The legal sex and adult-entertainment industry is a lucrative multi-billion dollar industry, which prostitution should legally fall under. If, for example, pornography or strip clubs are legal and easily accessible for the public of age in Canada, then why are there negative sanctions for those who practice prostitution? University of British Columbia's very own Heather Morton, and her colleagues, Carolin Klein, and Boris B. Gorzalka, presented a study which recruited 238 Canadian undergraduate students to investigate their knowledge of, and attitudes toward, current Canadian prostitution laws in Attitudes, Beliefs, and Knowledge of Prostitution and the Law in Canada. The lines dividing legal associated activities, such as stripping, and illegal aspects or prostitution are becoming increasingly blurred (Morton, Klein, Carolin 2012). In many strip clubs certain sexual services are offered illegally, which many would consider as prostitution. Morton and her colleagues find that "…strip club customers can legally purchase lap dances in which strippers grind their genitals against customers while wearing little or no clothing," this seems to define prostitution; the strippers are providing a sexual service in return for money, which virtually equals buying sex. If this version of purchasing sex is legal, it is irrational not to legalise, what is "seen" to be as prostitution.