The Link Between Prostitution and Poverty


ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Prostitution is considered to be the world’s oldest profession. A long time debate has gone on regarding the notion of the cause and legalization of prostitution. Whether you agree on the enforcement of criminalizing or legalizing, there are important facts that need to be understood regarding prostitution and impoverished communities. Understanding the logistics of prostitution illuminates how poverty perpetuates it.

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of prostitution is “the act or acts and practice of promiscuous sexual relationship, especially for money.” Further, it describes the state of being prostituted as debasement. Prostitution is an institutionalized form of the sex industry. It allows unlimited sexual acts to be committed, as long as money is available. Thus, the two key elements of prostitution are sexual acts and money.

Supporters of the legalization of prostitution argue that prostitution is a victimless crime. However, that is incorrect. The victim is the sex worker or prostitute themselves. It is also suggested that crime would decrease if prostitution were legal. However, crime rates and legalization do not, in fact, positively correlate.

For public health reasons, it is argued that legalization will help decrease STDs. Others argue that legalization would help people get out of poverty, allowing them to make their own decisions. Facts demonstrate otherwise.

Legalizing prostitution would lead to an increase of sexually transmitted diseases, creating public health issues. No other “job” has to cover the range of health issues that arise from this sexual and economic exchange. STDs and unwanted pregnancies are recognized occupational health and safety risks within the prostitution industry. This would not change if prostitution is legalized.

In the United States there are 11 states where prostitution is currently legal. In states such as Nevada, prostitution is legal, brothels exist, and health checks are done on a regular basis. However, not all prostitutes work in brothels to receive the medical services. Even in brothels, unprotected sex occurs in between the health checks, which can expose multiple parties to sexually transmitted diseases.

Legalizing prostitution would also encourage the human sex trafficking of men, women and children. Human Trafficking is illegal and still makes 34 billion dollars annually worldwide. Essentially, legalizing it would increase the rate of those who could expose their businesses publicly to the commercial sex exploitation of their victims. It would serve as justification for criminal enterprises already involved in this criminal element.

The crime rates of rape, violence and homicide is high among sex workers. Legalization would make it more difficult to prosecute rapists, perpetrators and traffickers of commercial sex acts of victims. With legalization, there is no basic presumption stating that buying or selling someone else’s body is a crime. Furthermore, it then places the burden on victims of violence to provide proof that they experienced harm or that exploitation occurred.

On average, a prostitute is raped at least once per week, despite their workplace location, street or brothel etc. Prostitution is extremely dangerous for its victims. Homicide is a common cause of death. Decriminalization of prostitution will not protect those whose income source essentially exposes them to crime.

Poverty is the primary driving force behind women becoming prostitutes. Prostitution is a repression of women and children, and utilizes the vulnerability of poverty to further exploit them.

Throughout the world there are limited and extremely scarce opportunities for women who are uneducated and impoverished. According to the Social Weather Station, statistically this is the same population with the highest rate of children that creates additional economic pressure. There is no requirement for being a sex worker. It requires no education, no references and no experience.

The cycle continues further with the illegitimate pregnancies. Prostitutes often have overseas or international clients, and the child is seen as more lucrative for prostitution.The vast majority of these children cycle back through to prostitution because of inherited poverty and their physical Western blends.

One billion children worldwide live in poverty. Statistically, that accounts for one out of every two children.The Gross Domestic Product in 41 one countries totals a population of 567 million people, whose wealth alone is still less than the richest seven people globally. Six hundred and forty million live without shelter and 270 million are without health services and 400 million have access to clean water. Over three billion people, live on less than 2.50 USD per day, which is almost 50 percent of the world population.

The majority of the world’s people and countries are in a state of poverty. In many countries, deep-rooted global causes of poverty are often less focused upon. As an increase of globalization occurs, global decisions, practices and policies evolve, external governments are able to influence and change pressing global issues. In countries that are considered to be poor by the United Nations, individuals are even more powerless and the majority struggle. To end the perpetuation of prostitution, the United States must focus on addressing the issue of global poverty.

Sources: Global Issues, Matador Network, Prostitution Pros and Cons


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