Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business

Chris Vaughan in Metapsychology:

Legalizing-prostitution-from-illicit-vice-to-lawful-businessWhy would a work on legalizing prostitution have thirty five pages of closely printed notes and a bibliography running to almost sixteen pages? The answer lies in the incendiary nature of the subject matter. Emotions frequently run high when it comes to discussing the sex trade and there doesn't seem to be any middle ground. Ronald Weitzer, Professor of Sociology at George Washington University is determined to bring some calm dispassionate reasoning based on solid research to the debate. Too often, he says, this debate is still stuck in what Popper termed the pre-scientific stage. Arguments are formulated on impressionistic, untested assumptions. Hence when it comes to prostitution, given that only a minority of the population ever experience prostitutes in the flesh as it were – between 15 – 18 per cent across the Western world – then the debate is coloured by impressions gathered from the media, from literature, from films and plays and from the more high profile street prostitutes on view in any large city.

My own impressions were formed when the neighbourhood where I live, at the time a decaying inner city suburb of large Victorian houses, many of them sublet, was invaded by a posse of street prostitutes who had been driven out from the city's traditional 'red light' area by angry residents taking direct action. His broadly researched description of this form of selling sex match my own observations as we, as residents, strove with the help of the police, the civil courts, city officers and social workers to get them to desist or move on and stop using our neighbourhood as their place of work and all the attendant ills it visited on us. He lists these: the initial transaction is in a public place: the sex act takes place in a public or semi-public place: many underage prostitutes are runaways in a new locale with no resources and little recourse but to engage in some kind of criminal activity – theft, drug dealing, selling sex. They sell sex out of dire necessity or to support a drug habit.

More here.