Wang Keying / Sharon
Wenzhou Kean University
Legalizing the Sex Trade
If someone were to witness what might be considered as an act of prostitution, he or her first response might call the police immediately because they might label it as immoral and illegal. This topic in general might be taboo and illicit, which is something people do not want to talk or only speak of in whisper, but in reality there are even some specific dates in the history of the sex trade. International Sex workers’ Day is on June 2nd each year, International Sex Workers’ Rights Day is on March 3rd each year and International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers is on December 17th each year. Hence, here comes a question. If sex is something common and necessary, why does government prohibit sex work? This kind of self-contradictory situation definitely causes the debate about whether to legalize the sex trade or not.
According to ABC news, sex workers in Melbourne resisted decriminalization of their work on December 18, 2013 (Lauder, 2013). They appealed to legalize the sex trade and protect sex workers’ basic rights. It is not the only campaign that is asking for legalization. Just six months earlier, another group of sex workers marched through several Canadian cities to ask for undifferentiated treatment (“Sex Workers”, 2013). Rome was not built in a day. These revolts are the consequence of long-time oppression and marginalization. Lacking social identity and a thorough operation system, sex workers are trapped in miserable working condition and almost incapable to protect their basic rights. They are at the risk of losing social insurance, threat, blackmail, or even infecting HIV. Beyond that, the crimes that related to the sex trade are almost out of control. A part of the rates of human trafficking, rape and venereal diseases also increase because of the underground sex trade. Besides, when government costs a lot of human resources and material resources of prohibition, it also faces the serious financial tension that followed. Therefore, the government of those developed countries without religion or location limitation, which equips with higher receptivity, adaptability and stability, should try to legalize sex work to create a legal system to improve the rights of sex workers, to decrease related crimes as well as to ease international financial issues.
In order to understand the rationality of legalization better, it is necessary to comprehend the related material. In the light of Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (2003),
A broad definition of sex work would be: the exchange of money or goods for sexual services, either regularly or occasionally, involving female, male, and transgender adults, young people and children where the sex worker may or may not consciously define such activity as income-generating.
Sex work is one of the oldest professions in the world, which is linked with religion at first. About 3rd century BC, Mesopotamian formed sex trade that let women “sacrifice” their bodies to help men who offered money to Ishtar’s temple (Fanni, 2013). Ishtar is a goddess worshipped by Mesopotamian, who is a maiden in the morning and becomes a “whore” in the evening (Fanni, 2013). At that time, sex trade existed without taboo or prohibition. However, with the increase of the Catholic and the European bourgeoisie, sex trade was regarded as sinful (Fanni, 2013). The derived problems, which included human trafficking, infection of venereal diseases, illegal underground trade and so on, not only affected sex workers but also their families, sex customers, or even the whole society. Later, the dominate view of sex work in modern society is accusatory and opposed. However, there are 40 million sex workers in the world roughly. As has been proved by history, the free development of sex work in the present situation without