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Without conflating trafficked persons, why should Sex Work be criminalised or decriminalised?

Sex work is a huge issue for many men and women around the world. Those who are in sex work through choice* face discrimination globally as their work is government limited or illegal. This means they are driven underground where buyers have the greater ability when it comes to negotiating (this includes the Nordic Model where criminalisation of clients is essentially criminalisation of workers).
There are debates FOR and AGAINST the decriminalisation of sex work that can fall outside these over stated items. So go ahead. I'd like to see thoughts from persons who aren't tied, in some way, to sex work. An outsiders view is always interesting.

*Trafficked victims are VICTIMS and should not be referred to within a discussion regarding consenting adults

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    Feb 27 2014: I'm against the decriminalisation of sex work as I would not allow my children (if any) to be involved in sex work (either as sex worker or clients), so i definitely would not want this type of 'work' to exist anywhere. In saying so, it's not like people would stop doing it even if it remained a crime. Girls think it's money easily earned. Guys think "I'm just human, don't judge me". And as long as there is supply, there is demand. At the end of the day, it's not the regulation alone that could stop the crime. It also comes down to education, personal code of ethics, concern for our own health as well as our loved ones'.
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      Feb 28 2014: Are there other professions you would bar your children from getting into?
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    Feb 25 2014: I must admit I jumped into the debate without letting your topic sink in. Only now do I realise that there are two major issues that deserve being discussed independently.
    One is the major issue of sex work being criminalised in many jurisdictions throughout the world.
    The other issue is that of discrimination which could also be further split into discrimination at a personal level, i.e. using derogatory terms and demeaning treatment by fellow citizens and the legal discrimination. In some jurisdictions prostitution might not be illegal yet often sex workers have no means of enforcing commercial rules, i.e. having income protection. In Germany it was the case that the service was legal but classified as immoral with the consequence that a sex worker had no recourse if a client refused payment.
    Legalisation does not eliminate the problems ( A real improvement of the conditions of sex workers or service providers depends on societies becoming mature enough to destigmatise the profession.
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    Feb 24 2014: One person has difficulties to disconnect sex from love. Perhaps in an ideal world these should go hand in hand or glove in hand. Yet let's face it many "legitimate" couples just copulate out of habit without too much love.
    I think people who are able to work in this industry deserve the same respect as dentists or other professions whose physical interventions contribute to the patient's well-being.
    Strangely enough women who hire out their uterus as surrogate mother seem to attract far less stigma than ladies who only hire out their vagina.
    Sex between consenting adults should certainly be kept out of the criminal codes. Those who don't like it don't have to engage in it.
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    Feb 24 2014: Call me Dutch (oh wait I am ;) ), but I believe it should be legal.

    Less under the curtains criminality, more regulated
    Higher status compared to when it is illegal
    There are people who are able to separare love from sex, paying money for sex is for them. If you can't well, you're not all people. By comparison, not everybody is going to skydive.
    Especially disabled people benefit, they have sexual needs as well.

    Sex could be addictive but so can a million other things be.
    Alcohol is legal and far more destructive for the consumer than sex.

    I don't get people who say it needs to be illegal. Only the traficking makes sense as an argument on that side to me.
    I hoped to understand some of the counterarguments here, but I feel like the arvuments are heavily influen ed by Disney and similaf cultural narratives. It feels too emotional for me too wishy washy, I want logic! ;)

    In this discussion: legalize it

    I never went to a prostitute/sex worker myself (in The Netherlands the word "prostituee" feels quite fancy, I thought that "whore" was the down putting word like the dutch word "hoer"). But I like to have the freedom to do so, even if I will never do it.

    Could you elaborate more why people do not want to call themselves prostitutes? In my mind it is a fancy word. What happened over there?

    Written on my phone
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    Feb 23 2014: Cassandra, We have legalized sex workers in the USA ... we call them politicians.

    Be well. Bob.
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    Feb 22 2014: well, i think prostitution is wrong. But I've never had a conversation with a prostitute. Are there prostitutes who are really happy in their work, who think this is their life calling, that this is their career in the same sense that some think being a doctor is their career, or being a lawyer or farmer is their career?
    • Feb 22 2014: The preferred term is "sex work/workers" as prostitute is considered a slur as it's used to dehumanise sex workers.

      That aside, many sex workers are students, uneducated people, all walks of life. You can't generalise. I do know a few ladies where sex work (this include porn) who DID want to enter into this form of work. In your line of thinking, what child what's to grow up & sit in an office all day doing unpaid overtime in a job they hate? (Just saying most kids have no clue what they want & criminalised sex work ensues this line of thinking. I'd rather a parent do sex work & be able to feed & house their family than not be able to on welfare or minimum wage).
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        Feb 22 2014: well, the way you wrote the question, cassandra, makes me think maybe you do sex work. Do you? Do you like it?
        • Feb 22 2014: No, I work in health & study sexual health as part of my masters. My view comes from working with sex workers as it's the field I've chosen to study. I'm also passionate about addiction care, which doesn't overlap with sex work as outsiders may believe.

          If I thought sex work was the right choice for me, I would work. If it was less demonised I would work. But since my view point is clouded by people who are sex workers, I wanted an outsiders POV.

          Outing sex workers, no matter your interest, is also a heated topic given stigma that surrounds their work. So tread lightly if you think others on here might be sex workers. I've seen sex workers who are outed have their lives destroyed by the stigma sex work carries. That's why I'm pro-decriminalisation. To reduce stigma & pain that keeping their work secret causes.
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        Feb 23 2014: well, it's hard for me to disconnect sex from love, or affection. Should I be able to? Because in sex work sex is disconnected from love and affection, isn't it?
        • Feb 23 2014: I think that means you couldn't be a sex worker. Some people can separate sex acts and emotional intimacy. Even a faux emotional intimacy that say, a GFE worker provides to a client is different to the intimacy they share with a loved one.
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        Feb 24 2014: well, why is sex work illegal in most places? The physical side of sex involves intense physical closeness, and is it maybe perverse to separate that from emotional closeness? Or maybe it's perverse to do work where you turn off your emotions, in most work you do have emotions about what you are doing, you involve your emotions in what you are doing?
        • Feb 24 2014: Everything you've said could be applied to a doctor. Intimate closeness with another human. Emotional detachment from client/patient...
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        Feb 24 2014: it's pretty far from being as intimate as sex? I don't know why, but it feels to me like sex isn't even interesting if the emotion is taken out of it. And the doctor does bring their emotions to the work, they might have happiness if a patient is feeling better, and they will show it, they will say "I am glad you are feeling better."

        But if you believe you're right, why then is sex work illegal most places? But it's not a major crime, but a misdemeanor.
      • Feb 27 2014: What about calling them as Social Sex Therapists or Shared Wives ?

        Those who cannot afford to have dedicated wife can go for subscription based Shared Wife. And also those men who are not satisfied with their dedicated wives will go to shared wives. And vice versa for women too.
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    Feb 27 2014: Cassandra,
    I don't think we can address this topic without knowing that "trafficked persons" are very much a part of the "business" of "sex work".

    Personally, I don't care if an informed, consenting adult chooses to sell his/her body, and/or use the body for "sex work" is a personal choice and I have no desire to judge or interfere in the life of an adult person.

    I never heard the term "sex worker" before so I looked it up, and apparently, it has been used for quite awhile, to avoid the stigma associated with prostitution. "Sex worker" apparently also includes all those who benefit from the business of selling sex, like those who benefit from prostitution (pimps for example), those who profit from appearing in and producing pornography, etc.
    "Some people use the term to avoid invoking the stigma associated with the word prostitute.[4]"

    If it is considered a legitimate business, it could have all the elements of a legitimate business as it seems to have in Nevada, where it is legal and regulated in some places. I assume that as a business, taxes are appropriately paid, the prostitutes are paid a fair wage, and health care is provided? I didn't go that far in my exploration of the "business".

    That being said, my issue with prostitution, is that many children, teens and vulnerable people are pulled or forced into prostitution and used, while other people profit from the use of their body, and that is not ok.

    In Vermont, where I live for example, they are considering updating the laws governing prostitution, because it is known that human trafficking and exploitation are very much a part of the business of prostitution, which is unacceptable. I believe you might find that human trafficking and exploitation is very much a part of the "business" in most places.
  • Feb 27 2014: If sex work be decriminalized or legalized then wives of the men will say I want to be a prostitute.Then we will have International Institute of Prostitution.Then we will have Institute of Pornography.School of Sex Engineering.MBA in Prostitution Management.Certificate Course in Prostitution.Then Noble prizes,Oscar awards,listing on Forbes Magazine.There are unlimited opportunities..................
  • Feb 25 2014: That's amazing insight! Just having a quick look through Australian law (which is all over the place regarding sex work) BUT a sex worker was paid in fake money by a client and he was arrested, charged and convicted with "rape by deception" and had to pay restitution.
  • Feb 25 2014: That's the question. Where sex work is legal, workers have far better conditions. Where it is a crime, abuse runs rampant.
  • Feb 24 2014: I believe freedom is a lot kinder master than the alternative we have now.
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    Feb 24 2014: Personal comments: i.e. are you ? do you like it? are immature and add nothing to the debate.
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    Feb 23 2014: There are many professions that should be banned but prostitution is not one of them. As long as the workers in this industry have not been forced into the job they should just be able to exercise it. I have talked to a few sex service providers in different countries. It is certainly not a easy job under the current conditions because of the stigma. People tend to overlook that the big hotel chains benefit massively from the sex trade. They are major investors in the porn industry and yet no stigma attached.
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    Feb 23 2014: When a person of rather modest means gets into a relationship with another person with substantial material assets which will benefit the less pecuniary fortunate partner; would that constitute a case of prostitution?
    • Feb 23 2014: Haha. Yes, the sex workers I work with laughed & said that's exactly right when I talked to them. I'm not sure why sex work is banned because I'm not sure who it hurts (when legal, consenting, non-trafficked workers are doing it).
  • Feb 22 2014: Not long ago I watched a documentary on Netflix, wish I could remember the name of it. The story followed the life of twin sisters somewhere in Amsterdam. The women were well into their late 60's, early 70's. They lived in a wretched little place, the one sister continued working as a prostitute and the other had stopped a few years earlier.

    I was surprised to see "old whores" as they called themselves going about their daily lives shopping and doing laundry then the one, hoping onto a chair, pulling back the curtains in her window and soliciting men as they trolled by. During the program the women recounted their young lives and how they ended up in prostitution. The one still working had started out a married woman in her early 20s. Times were tough and her husband suggested she start hooking for extra money. Long story short, he got into drugs and started abusing her when money was low. She had a daughter with him who later went to live with other families once she left him.

    If prostitution is legal the state sets up guidelines to keep workers and patrons safer then when it's not. I can't help but think if given more opportunities, many of these women would choose something else. Choice is not always a choice but a decision to take path of least resistance.

    My take away from the documentary was even though the women were adults when they started as prostitutes it had left them very isolated, demoralized and poor, their words. The daughter reunited with her mom during the program and it was quite sad, the daughter held her mom responsible for her crappy life and the shame of people knowing her mom was a prostitute.
    • Feb 23 2014: When drugs are involved, it's always bad. 90% of sex work docos focus on the extremes. Poverty/high class/trafficking. 90% of workers don't fall into these groups. While not taking away from their stories, it's important to know normal sex work isn't doco material. The workers I know lead lives exactly like someone who works in an office outside of work. That's boring!

      Based on this doco, imagine if sex work was legal & these women could access support services of addiction, abusive partners, counsellors. Would this have changed their outcomes? That's what I'm interested in. Ensuring that all sex workers (and the majority are women) are able to access these services without fear of arrest, or persecution. Currently, sex workers are scared to access services for the fear of the judgement they will get.
      • Feb 24 2014: I believe these women lived in Amsterdam where their work was legal and they had access to the same services as others. This documentary was not done in a negative way, as a matter of fact I was surprised as it unfolded how revealing it was without being demeaning of the women....still can't remember the name of it.
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    Feb 22 2014: I will continue to use the term 'prostitution,' as 'sex work' legitimizes the practice.

    I think it should be legal, because freedom includes the right to be stupid.
    • Feb 23 2014: So if a person told you, I'd like to be called "X" instead of "Y" because "Y" hurts me in these ways, you'd continue to insult them even though you believe sex work should be legal? It's contradictory to me. Just my thoughts on your points...
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        Feb 24 2014: 1) There is no correlation between what should be legal and what should be honored with a genteel appellation.

        2) I do not and cannot believe that any prostitute cares what title the public bestows upon his/her activity. And if they did it would least of all be the neutral and sterile term of 'prostitute.'
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          Feb 25 2014: In your opinion which professions are noble enough to "be honored with a genteel appellation"?
          Can soldiers be called professional killers?