Prostitution is something that has been around for centuries, and for the past few years there has been a debate as to whether it should be legalized or not. No matter a person’s legal leanings, it is difficult to refute the fact that prostitution has negative effects on society. Across different cultures and continents, the destructive consequences of prostitution are similar whether prostitution is legal, tolerated, or illegal.
People that are removed from the situation tend to think that the legalization will lessen the harm of prostitution. This is simply not true. For example, a legal Amsterdam brothel could have three different panic buttons in a single room because clients “regularly attempt to rape and strangle women.” Therefore, the harmful side effects of prostitution impact the individual and the society in which they live—regardless of the legality.
If you are still wanting some information about the effects of prostitution on society as well as the damaging side effects of prostitution on individuals, take a look below.
Effects of Prostitution on Society & Individuals
Prostitution contributes to the objectification of women: Just because someone pays does not erase the qualifications of what we consider sexual violence, domestic violence, and rape. However, people who pay for sex tend to think that what they do is acceptable. One man said, “he clarifies the nature of his relationship to the women he buys: ‘I paid for this. You have no rights. You’re with me now.’” Perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of this quote is the mirror it provides to the mindset from which it came. This possessive attitude moves from streets and brothels to schools, homes, and daily living.
Prostitution Normalizes Violence: Sexual violence and physical assault are the norm for women in legal prostitution. A Dutch study states that 60% of women in legal prostitution were physically assaulted, 70% were threatened with physical assault, and 40% had been coerced into legal prostitution. Legal or illegal, the longer someone is in prostitution, the more he or she is physically endangered and psychologically harmed. If the prostitute says no to sex, violence is often used to receive “consent” for something. This creates and reinforces the mindset that violence is the answer. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center gives plenty of statistics about how this violence transfers to society.
The Futile Effect: What will Legalization do? Some believe that legalizing prostitution will reduce the number of prostitution arrests. While that is a hope, legalization does not eliminate all the other negative elements that legalizing would bring about. Legalizing prostitution legitimizes the sale and use of humans and makes people think it is a “normal” job. This tells society that even though someone is constantly harmed, it is acceptable because it is a job.
“Rented organ.” “Paid rape.” “Voluntary slavery.” These are all phrases people have used to describe their experience with prostitution. Prostitutes start to believe in this objectification of their bodies and suffer immense mental debilitation from it. A prostituting woman in Vancouver said, “what rape is to others is normal to us.” Often, prostitutes do not want to live this life. Nevertheless, vulnerable human beings are hired and prostituted. These men and women are constantly battered at the expense of their own humanity. They are frequently tossed aside and shunned from society, given no help or aid—left to fend for themselves while experiencing horrible physical and psychological harm.
Not only are side effects of prostitution tremendous upon the prostitutes themselves, but there are also tremendous effects of prostitution on society as well. If someone is convicted of prostitution or sex solicitation crimes, they should hire an attorney. These crimes are not something to be left to chance in the courtroom.