Prostitution ought to be legalized
The resolution is that prostitution ought to be legalized.
Definition prostitution: the act of having sex in exchange for money
Definition legalized: to make legal
First round acceptance, semantics are a no-go, no new information in the final round, and let's go.
For the record, the position I'm taking is diametrically opposite to my actual position on the issue. I'm just flirting with the opposing viewpoint.
This will be fun. :D
“An unjust law is no law at all”- St. Augustine
Thank you for that brilliant round. I'll get right to the case.
The most crucial point in the opponents case is the autonomy of a person's body. He affirms that illegalizing prostitution robs the girls of their right to sell their bodies for money, if they so wish. He links it with patriarchy and the rape culture, and then talks about reducing STDs.
However, that is an extremely idealized view of the problem. A worker does not have complete autonomy over his/ her working conditions. Legalizing prostitution is legalizing the work of *all* the stakeholders in the prostitution rings. It legalizes the work of pimps, of the customers and everyone in the process. Legalization creates an environment where the prostitutes become a commodity. They enter into a contract with the pimp, the person who gives them money. They have a *limited* amount of autonomy over their bodies, if they want the money. In the same way a worker is not always completely in control over his working conditions if he wants the money. the bottomline is that the pimp would be her boss, and her body would be the commodity. She would have a certain say over her working conditions IF she's on the top, or a star prostitute- but everyone starting from the bottom would have to keep up with minor infractions of the contract, just like in every other industry, if she doesn't want to be branded as a problem worker. However, in this case, minor infractions of the contract equal rape, exploitation, and assault.
In the Mustang Ranch of Nevada, located in the county of this state where prostitution is legal, and which is the largest brothel in US has a prison like appearence. Women are still pimped into this brothel, work 12-14 hours a day, have no right to chose clients and are subject to violence and abuse. Similarly in Germany, legalised prostitution has increased the vulnerability of registered prostitutes, causing the police to harrass them anytime. Women are arrested outside their designated work spaces even if they are not solicitating. (D' Cunha, 1991, 1992). It is no surprise that the illegal sector (unregistered prostitutes) of prostitution flourishes even in areas where prostitution is legal, since it helps prostitutes retain the autonomy of their bodies.
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW) has conducted 2 major studies on sex trafficking and prostitution, interviewing almost 200 victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In these studies, women in prostitution indicated that prostitution establishments did little to protect them, regardless of whether they were in legal or illegal establishments. “The only time they protect anyone is to protect the customers.”
Do women have the agency to decide for themselves whether or not they are willing to accept money for the sex acts required? This is not a rhetorical question- I expect an answer from my opponent. If she says yes, then that means that I win this debate, as it is simply a voluntary market transaction, making it victimless, and she has greatly weakened her case. If she says no, then congratulations, she has just claimed that half of the world’s population is incapable of making decisions for themselves. It is important to note, however, that the “no” answer is the logical conclusion to be drawn from her case. She’s claiming that women shouldn’t be able to decide for themselves what they do with their own bodies, which they have full ownership over, because she personally sees it as bad.
So it is important to attack my opponent’s argument for what it really is- a case for why women should decide against being prostitutes, but not for why it should be illegal. She says that the woman’s body is commodified once money enters the equation. That’s true, but this goes back to my original point about self-sovereignty. At a fundamental level, before we own anything else, we own ourselves, and we have ownership over our own bodies. When you own something, you have every right to make money off of it. Maybe a woman shouldn’t become a prostitute, but that line of reasoning is non-topical and is no reason to legally restrict a woman’s ability to be a prostitute, especially given the fact that she has rights that ought to be respected.
And of course, that all goes back to the patriarchal view that some people ought to be able to forbid women from doing what they want to with their own bodies because they morally oppose what those women do with their own bodies. So to go down that road, if a prostitute were to engage in sex for money with a man, what effect would that have on my opponent? What effect would that have on the readers of this debate? It would have absolutely none, because this is simply a voluntary transaction between consenting parties, much like any other market transaction. Essentially what this means is that no matter what moral opposition one may have against prostitution, it gives no real reason to make it illegal, because nobody is harmed based on what the prostitute and customer decided to do.
This being said, much of my opponent’s logic holds, but only insofar as it means that women should largely decide against prostitution. What is important to remember here, however, is that the law is not the women. The law should not decide for the women what they ought to do, because the law should understand the fundamental fact that these individual women are more than capable of deciding for themselves what they want to do with their own bodies.
Additionally, my opponent acts as though keeping prostitution illegal will eliminate prostitution. In my previous round’s intro, I pointed that out as a fallacious assumption- regardless of whether or not prostitution is legal, prostitution is still going to be a large industry. The only real difference with regards to physical consequences when prostitution is made legal is that women now have a safer environment to work in when they decide to work in the legal sector. Rapes are now actually punished, and STD spread is reduced.
To refute my point about rape punishment, my opponent claims that making it legal would still discourage rape reporting, as the rape reporting would reduce the prostitute’s market value. While that could potentially be true, it will still lead to substantially more rape reporting because a disincentive was removed. With prostitution being illegal, prostitutes will not report their rapes because they do not want to risk punishment. Legalizing prostitution removes that risk of punishment, making it so the most substantial disincentive against rape reporting is now a moot point, and that some rapists will actually be held accountable for their crimes, making prostitute rape less likely.
To refute my point about STD spread, my opponent tries to claim that the contention relied on the complete removal of illegal prostitution, which is simply not true. If even just a quarter of the industry were regulated, then the spread of STDs would go down. The majority of the industry, however, would now be legal, would be regulated, and would therefore mean that we would have a reduction of STD spread. Additionally, my opponent’s rationale for how getting the majority of the market regulated would lead to the illegal sector increasing is not explained. I would ask her to explain why next round, because that runs totally counter to common sense.
To address my point about political/economic costs, she simply argues that “If prostitution causes widespread exploitation, rape, violence and viscious crimes against humanity- tax dollars should definitely be used to stop it. That is what we pay tax for, for the safety of our citizens.” That’s great, and I could totally get on board with that- if it were true that prostitution causes “widespread exploitation, rape, violence, and vicious crimes against humanity.” This is an instance where the prohibition of the act is exactly what makes those things happen. It makes rape happen more often because it makes it punishable for a prostitute to report her rape. It makes violence more common because the prostitute cannot report her boss or customers for being abusive towards her. And I would say that it is a vicious crime against humanity to claim that half of the world’s population is incapable of making decisions for themselves over what they fundamentally own. In legalizing prostitution, we actually reduce those problems, because remember, prostitution is not going to stop regardless of its legal status. However, we can’t regulate it unless it’s legal, and if we can regulate it, we can make it safer. So to sum all that up, if legalizing prostitution actually reduces or solves for those problems, it seems like it would make sense, by my opponent’s logic, to legalize it. And why not make some money on it to pay for valuable services like education or healthcare, rather than just punish people who really shouldn’t be punished?
We can make it safer for the prostitutes and the customers by regulating it, so to answer the original question posed in the debate, which was “should people be punished for this action that they do anyway?” it seems pretty basic that the answer would be a resounding “No.” They have ownership over their bodies, so they have every right to exchange money for sex. We can reduce rape by making it something that actually has the potential to be punished, and, in legalizing prostitution, we can actually make it a safe environment for them, instead of an environment run by violent pimps, policemen, and customers. We can make it an environment where a prostitute can switch her place of employment without fear of violence by angry pimps, therefore giving her control over her situation. Additionally, it leaves low-skills women with a higher paying path than a minimum wage job, meaning that if she so desires, she does not have to be restricted to the minimum wage job option, as she had been before. That point was left completely unaddressed by my opponent, and that should be noted by the voters.
So to sum this up, my opponent gives a lot of lovely reasons for why a woman should decide against being a prostitute, but they really just don’t hold up as reasons for why prostitution should be illegal. I, however, have all of the impacts on my side. I have a reduction of rape, violence, and STD spread. I have women’s ability to make choices for themselves on my side. She has her “moral high ground.” I believe it is clear which side of this debate would make an actual positive change for society.
My opponent hit the nail right in the head with that question. My entire contention revolves around the fact that prostitutes would NOT have complete autonomy if prostitution's legalized. They will not, and that's hardly surprising. Do you, dear voter, have complete autonomy in the place you decided to work for? Do you not think they'll have to encounter douch-ie customers? Do you disagree with the fact that there would sometimes be gray areas in rape where she'd be forced to perform stuff she ISN'T comfortable with in order to increase her market value? Nobody has complete autonomy when they're working for money. You are sometimes (and this is actually many times) forced to make decisions that you're not okay with just because the unpleasantness is paid for by money.
Unfortunately, in prostitution- that'd be rape.
You can't wish this away. This IS the reality- and has been actually *experienced* in countries where its legal. This is not just a hypothetical I’m drawing to strengthen my case.
My opponent agrees that a woman's body will become commodified once money enters the equation. However, he goes on to state that women should have that right- the right to decide to be commodified. Well I don't, because *I* believe that one shouldn't have the ability to pay for rape. It does affect me because it affects them. Just because a woman wants money, does not mean that she should be raped. And allowing legalised prostitution is exactly that. In the study I shared in the previous round, more than 70% of the prostitutes said that they would change their jobs IF they had a choice. They are prostituting even though they dont to. I happen to believe that legally sanctioning this monstrority is not the way to go.
There *should* be better avenues at getting money other than selling your body. If money is the reason they're getting into prostitution, it isn't all that consensual. If sex is the reason they want to get in, amazing. You can have sex at a club, a bar, craigslist, anything. If money is, you shouldn't *have* to consider an option where you can get raped. Get the government to provide legit job opportunities.
My opponent mentions that it wouldn't hurt anyone. Well it would. It would hurt the prostitutes (as it does). It would hurt the prospects of justice.
The law, regardless of what my opponent says, cannot legalize rape. That is the bottomline. Law is the expected standard a society should adhere to. It would definitely not eliminate prostitution, however it *would* give a recourse to correct the ills that result from prostitution. Just because illegalizing something isn't being 100% effective doesn't mean you legalize that. You don't legalize murder. As I already stated in my previous round, you do NOT have safer working environment- in fact EVEN in countries where it is legal- woman prefer to remain unlisted because that helps them reclaim their autonomy.
About rape punishment, my opponent claims that the rape reporting would increase because he believes that the disincentive to report rapes would reduce. That does not take into account the fact that the line between rape and not rape gets blurred too. Rape is a sensitive issue, and teh fact that most of the women interviewed by the CAPW did not know that they were being raped even though they related how they were being forced to do stuff they didn't want to just supports this point. Apparently, they didn't realize that it is still rape even if you get raped. Legalising this is not the way to deal with it. A better (much much better) recourse is providing alternative job opportunities/ skill workshops that'd help them migrate to more pleasant options.
To respond to the STD point, first te illegal sector increases because the entire prostitution sector is larger now, once it gets legalised. Consequently, so is the illegal sector, a part of this relatively larger pool that gives them the luxury of not being harrassed by thhe pimps. That was the experience in countries where it is legal, in any case- a contention i supported in the previous round. My opponent makes the point about how legalising prostitution reduces STD's even if aq quarter of the industry is legalized.
A. That's not true because there is a larger pool of sex workers now, with a larger pool of illegal workers, making spread of STDs easier.
B. Illegalizing prostitution effectively also addresses this. Provide better job opportunities, better workable skills, and you address the root of the problem.
The economic cost point, I've already explained how legalising prostitution would increase the instance of rapes just because a. the line of rape and not-rape gets blurred, as has been the experience. And B. more prostitution = more rapes Also C. women gets commodified (my opponent agrees with this), which adds to the prevailing rape culture on a psychological level. This should not be legalized. It should be reguilated away, by giving actual valid choices to the prostitutes- so that they do not have to resort to getting raped for money. Legalizing it does not get us anything worthwhile- and is a bandaid solution to a more pervasive problem.
To sum it up, no- women would not have complete autonomy if they have sex for money. Legalising prostitution would lead to increasing the pool of prostitutes, increasing rapes and STDs- something that has been empirically observed. If our objective is to reduce these, effective illegalization is the only option- which is a mix of punishment and alternative job opportunities. I feel a majority of th epopulation would be alright with paying tax dollars to rescue women from a profession they do not want to engage in.
I would like to thank classic for this debate, and the readers for going through it. This has been a fun debate :D
It would seem that my opponent doesn’t believe that women are capable of making decisions for themselves about that which they most fundamentally own- their own body. Her opinion here is clear from the very fact that she is arguing that prostitutes are victims- that them consenting to sex for money can’t be seen as consent. But to be perfectly clear on this, even if the voter buys the faulty logic that a prostitute is a victim, they should still vote for me. This is because of the original question that frames this debate- should prostitutes be punished for something they would do anyway? If you view prostitutes as the victim, then it would seem ridiculous to punish the victim, which is what keeping prostitution illegal would do. If you don’t view a prostitute as a victim, but rather as an adult who is perfectly capable of making decisions for herself, then there is no reason to punish prostitution, as it is a victimless crime.
So now that we’ve addressed the most important issue of this debate, which is whether or not women are capable of exercising their right to self-ownership, which ends up in my favor regardless of whether you see the prostitutes as victims or not, I’ll address some of the finer points of this debate.
My opponent says that you can’t have bodily autonomy when you’re working for money. This is simply not true. Can your boss control what you eat? What you do in your free time? If your boss is trying to do that, then, in most industries, people are perfectly free to leave. As I stated in my previous round, when prostitution is illegal, the prostitute is not as free to leave, as she cannot do so without fear for her safety, and she cannot go to the authorities without fear of punishment. When you make it legal, the prostitute could switch employers, giving her the same amount self-ownership as any other legal worker in America. So if we can make the industry safer for those who decide to exchange sex for money by legalizing it, then we should do just that.
In a world where prostitution is legal, prostitutes do not have to fear violence from customers or bosses because they refuse to do a sex act, same as other workers in other industries do not have to fear violence from customers or bosses.
My opponent then goes on to do a drastic mischaracterization of my arguments when she says “the law, regardless of what my opponent says, cannot legalize rape.” I have never said anything about legalizing rape, and this is a blatantly dishonest statement that should be punished by the voters. I have shown repeatedly that this would increase rape reporting, which makes it so that the rapes actually have potential to be punished. I have shown that once prostitution is legalized, the prostitutes will have the ability to actually say “no” and not fear punishment.
She then goes on to attack my point on STD spread reduction by saying that legalizing prostitution would increase the unregulated portion of prostitution to such a high degree that STD spread would be increased. Lets say for the sake of argument that some prostitutes don’t want the safety that comes with being a part of the regulated industry- let’s say that 15% of the industry is illegal (and that’s a very high number given the incentives). That would mean that the entire industry would have to become almost seven times larger than it currently is for her objection to my contention to stand, which is ridiculous. On top of that, the increase in size would not be instantaneous, and would happen over time, and with that time, lawmakers could learn how to better deal with prostitution.
So to conclude this debate, a vote for my side of the debate is a vote to respect a woman’s right to choose, to reduce the spread of STDs, a vote to make a safer work environment for prostitutes, to not punish a victimless act, and if you buy into her idea that prostitutes are victims (which I have address multiple times as a problem that comes with the prohibition, not with the line of work), a vote to not punish victims.
I strongly urge a vote for Pro, and I thank Cermank for a wonderful debate.
Cermank forfeited this round.