Everyone is asking the same question: should prostitution be legalized? But a far more important question to ask is what can we do so that women don't resort to desperate measures such as selling their bodies for cash? What alternatives can we create for them? How do we eliminate prostitution from the grounds up?
Many American cities think the best solution is shaming the men who solicit the services of prostitutes. The photos of these male clients are posted not only on websites but printed and dispersed throughout the community. Some towns go a step further and send letters to the relatives of these men, informing them of their crime.
But trying to cut demand seems unreasonable. It's safe to assume that some men will seek sex outside of their established relationships, even if prostitution is eliminated. If they're not paying a few dollars for anonymous sex or thousands for high-class escort services, they will simply have “affairs, lovers.” They'll go on dates, bars and clubs, looking for casual sex. It's also safe to assume that some women will readily accept the “no strings attached” sex. Therefore, trying to curb the demand by men seems foolish. Humiliating these men, like we did to now ex-governor Pitzer, doesn't solve anything. Neither does sending them off to jail. (Unless of course, they use the government's money for their “private needs,” like it is alleged of Pitzer.)
Charging and arresting female prostitutes, however, is a much more ridiculous notion. Prostitutes don't pose a danger to society; in fact, they're in one of the most dangerous “professions.” We should be helping them, not arresting them. They're probably more likely to die on the job than any other “professional.” Putting them in jail does nothing but overcrowd our prisons with these harmless women. Instead of raising taxes to build more prisons to house these “small-time criminals,” we should use those funds to create alternatives for the lower-class and poverty-stricken women who look to prostitution in order to make ends meet.
We need to create jobs, raise the minimum wage, create free educational and vocational programs for adults, have a national health-care and daycare system. In other words, we need to eliminate all the problems that force women into prostitution. Prostitution is not an isolated problem; it is the result of a faulty economic and political system.
We need to stop looking at prostitution as a “victim-less” crime. These women, these prostitutes ARE the victims. They're the victims of a system that has given up on them, that chooses to allocate money for wars that don't need to be fought and abstinence-only programs that are proven ineffective instead of on poverty, job training, instead of on them.
Little girls don't grow up wanting to become prostitutes. They don't want to go to work at a time where the rest of the world goes to sleep. They don't want a job that can get them killed. Little girls don't dream about being a part of the sex industry.
But prostitution happens. We already know why. The jobs they have don't pay enough; the jobs they want aren't given to them. Their children need to be fed, clothed, immunized. They need support and don't find it in their familial harms.
But these issues are tangible, treatable. If we fix these roots, they wouldn't branch out to become “prostitution.” So it's not a question of making it legal or not; it's a matter of ethics, of humanity. Let's start caring about these women, yeah? And each other.