Years ago, shortly after this writer moved to N.H, the newspapers reported that the authorities busted a "call girl" ring in Concord. The call girls were operating out of a major hotel near the Statehouse and were getting as much as $2,000 for an hour's "entertainment." The papers reported the names of the call girls but not their customers. This writer always wondered why the customers were not also reported.
It is not a topic that many people want to discuss rationally but prostitution is called the "world's oldest profession" for a reason. It has been around since ancient or even prehistoric times and no one has ever been able wipe it out. It was an accepted part of Greco-Roman culture. Even St. Augustine, the church father, wrote that it could serve as an "outlet" to prevent even more serious societal problems.
Even General Hooker, the commander of Washington, D.C. during the Civil war, knew he could not eradicate it. Instead, he regulated it and it is said that he restricted the brothels to the area of D.C. where the Supreme Court building now stands.
In the United States, we have a hypocritical and almost schizophrenic attitude toward sex. On the one hand, we love it, are highly obsessed with it and even use it to sell products. On the other hand, we seem to prefer to pretend that it did not even exist.
There is also a great deal of hypocrisy regarding our prostitution laws. Why is it legal for someone to take money for having sex in front of a camera but not for simply having sex? And, is there any real ethical difference between prostitution and "marrying for money" or sleeping with someone because of expensive gifts or dates? Isn't "keeping" a "mistress" pretty much the same thing except that it is legal?
In addition, there is a lack of uniformity and fairness in the enforcement of our prostitution laws. Like many laws, they seem disfavor the poor and powerless. It is most often the "streetwalkers" and their clients who get busted. Although there have been reforms in policing, the prostitute is still more vulnerable to arrest than the customer.
This inequity is due to the nature of the business. "Call girls" (and boys) and those who work as "escorts" and their clients are rarely arrested. Their transactions are private and made in homes and hotels.
Granted, prostitution is probably not something one would want their daughter, sister, mother, or wife (or male relative) to make as a career choice. But, many women (and men) engage in prostitution out of economic necessity or are forced into it through sexual slavery. But, what if someone does make that choice voluntarily? What if it were a truly consensual transaction between two consenting adults?
Many of the problems associated with prostitution such as sex trafficking, violence, exploitation, and "pimping" are directly a result of the occupation's illegality. When there is a demand for a service and it is illegal, it means it gets run by the "criminal element".
It results in sexual slavery, child prostitution, and pimps who exploit and brutalize sex workers. Even N.H. is not immune to sexual trafficking, especially during popular events.
Sex workers are regularly raped and brutalized but since they are sex workers it is not taken seriously. Mere "decriminalization" of prostitution is not the answer. That would still leave room for abuse, violence and sex trafficking. Full legalization and regulation with good policing is a much better idea.
Holland has the right idea. It is not that the Dutch "like" prostitution but their policies regarding it are directed at "harm reduction." The Dutch relegate brothels to certain areas of town.
In the Netherlands, sex workers must be over 18, licensed and receive regular health checks. They are required to provide condoms to customers. They pay into Holland's retirement system. Moreover, since it is legal, if a customer is violent or refuses to pay, a sex worker can call the police as in any business.
Perhaps the U.S.A. should adopt the same policy and at the same time more strictly enforce our laws against sexual slavery, child prostitution, child pornography and other types of exploitation.
(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, a taxpayer, a veteran, and resident of Gilford. He has an opinion on most issues.)
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