Resolved: Prostitution should be legalised
The resolution of this debate is:
'Prostitution should be legalised by the government, in a similar manner to legalisation in Germany (1) and the Netherlands (2).'
I will be CON on this issue, whilst my opponent will be PRO. Since legalising prostitution is a move against the status quo, Pro has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the benefits of legalising prostitution will outweigh the negatives. I will be making my own arguments against legalising prostitution, but I need only negate Pro's arguments to win the debate.
R2: Open debating
R3: Open debating
R4: Closing summaries; no new arguments made in this round should be credited by voters
Thanks for accepting!
I will make two arguments that explain why prostitution should not be legalised.
Just to clarify, in R1 when I said 'legalise prostitution', I am referring to the legalisation of prostitution to a similar extent that the Netherlands and Germany have legalised it. This does not mean that the exact prostitution laws in these countries must be defended by Pro, all it means is that the extent of legalisation in these countries (personal prostitution, brothel ownership and pimping all being legal) is the extent to which Pro is arguing for in his burden of proof.
A further implication of the extended resolution (stated in R1) is that the context of the debate is within a western society. This is because society is very different in cultures such as Thailand and Japan, and hence the debate would be too complex if we do not specify the type of society we are talking about.
Argument #1 - Encouragement of prostitution
This argument forms the following syllogism:
P1: A harmful profession should not be encouraged
P2: Prostitution is a harmful profession
C1: Prostitution should not be encouraged
P3: Legalising prostitution would encourage it
C2: Prostitution should not be legalised
Harmful profession: a profession that harms those working in it and/or the wider society, and is unnecessary.
Encourage: stimulate the development of something. (1)
This argument is sound insofar as the logical steps between the premises and conclusions are unavoidable and indisputably correct - the conclusions are true insofar as the premises are true. Since the only points of contention are the premises, I must defend these premises in order to support the argument. Note that I only need to prove inductively that these premises are true, viz. I only need to prove that it is likely that the premises are true, not that they are necessarily 100% correct.
I presume that my opponent accepts this premise, but for the sake of thoroughness I will defend it anyway.
First, we must consider the role of the government. In a Western democracy, the government is voted in by the people to serve the people. Indeed, the government is only legitimised by the consent of its citizens, hence it exists solely to serve the interests of the populace (2). I will call this the serving of 'the common good of the people', which is the maximisation of the overall welfare of all law-abiding people, not just individuals or certain groups.
They do this by making laws and providing assistance (welfare) and public services. But how do we establish a normative basis for what the government ought to do?
Consider that a clock only exists to tell the time, a clock therefore ought to tell the time. In the same way, because a government only exists to serve the people, a government ought to serve the people. It doesn't make sense to ask why a clock ought to tell the time, given that we know why clocks exist. The same can be said of governments.
As a legislating body, it follows that the government's laws should have, as their ultimate end, the interests of the people at heart. If a governmental action does not ultimately serve the people, then it does not come under what a government ought to do - it deviates from the principle that the government should serve the people.
The government should not encourage a harmful profession because doing so would not serve the common good of the people - it is contrary to both the welfare of those working in the profession as well as those who are negatively affected by the profession.
Therefore, the government should not encourage a harmful profession.
I argue that prostitution is harmful both for society and for women who work as prostitutes.
- Legalising prostitution encourages sex tourism, which in turn harms wider tourism and encourages a culture of promiscuity. Tourism workers in Amsterdam have expressed fears that 'visitors are vanishing along with the city's reputation'. (3)
- The majority of men who visit prostitutes are either married or in a long-term relationship (4). It stands to reason that, since it is likely that men who cheat on their partners will get caught, the increased prominence of prostitution will increase the frequency of unfaithfulness within marriage. This damages marriage, which in turn is bad for society due to the negative social impacts of divorce.
- There is a significant correlation between drug use and prostitution (5), so it is a reasonable inference that more prostitution will be accompanied by a higher prevalence of drug abuse. It goes without saying that drug abuse involves a plethora of negative social impacts, including unemployment, crime and health problems.
For the prostitutes:
- Ruchira Gupta MA, a researcher and activist in the field, wrote that:
'we have seen that the women in the Red Light areas actually earn less as they grow older, get deeper into debt and suffer from multiple mental and physical health issues related to repeated body invasion. Their victimization is evident from any point of view physically, socially, and legally.' (6)
- Melissa Farley PhD found that the prevalence rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in prostitutes is 'comparable to the rates of PTSD among battered women seeking shelter, rape survivors and survivors of state-sponsored torture'. (7)
- About 80% of women in prostitution have been the victim of a rape (8). Rape has multiple negative effects including PTSD, depression, self-harm and substance abuse (9).
- Prostitution is a dangerous profession; the mortality rate for prostitutes is 40 times that of the national average (10) and 70% to 95% of prostitutes are physically assaulted (11).
The wealth of evidence I have just presented explains why prostitution can rightly be described as a harmful profession.
This is a logical deduction from P1 and P2.
This is fairly obvious; legalising prostitution is an act of tacit approval by the government that says 'prostitution is a legitimate profession'. This would encourage more women to enter the profession because of:
1. Ease of recruitment by pimps (they no longer need to recruit whilst avoiding law enforcement).
2. The industry would expand, and supply and demand would necessitate more women to become prostitutes.
3. Women will not be put off entering the profession by the risk of criminal punishment.
This is backed up by statistical evidence. In 1997, before prostitution was legalised, there were around 100,000 working prostitutes in Germany (12). But in 2005, three years after legalisation, this number has quadrupled to 400,000 (13). This increase cannot be attributed significantly to overall population increase, since the overall population only increased by 430,000 in this period (14). This is pretty solid empirical evidence that governmental legalisation of prostitution will, directly or indirectly, encourage prostitution as a profession.
The conclusion, which is the negation of the resolution of this debate, logically follows from C1 and P3.
With this argument, which I have cogently defended, I have concluded that prostitution should not be legalised.
Argument #2 - Human Trafficking
P1: Legalising prostitution is likely to increase the frequency of human trafficking.
P2: Human trafficking is a harmful phenomeon
P3: A government shouldn't make laws that increase the prevalence of a harmful phenomenon (except when it is necessary, which human trafficking is not).
C: The government shouldn't legalise prostitution
The evidence for this is both theoretical and empirical. Theoretically, it stands to reason that legalisation of prostitution expands the industry, attracts more clients and consequently requires more prostitutes to meet the demand. Often, this causes the industry to get involved in human trafficking in order to provide more prostitutes.
Empirically, we can see that human trafficking 'is least prevalent in countries where prostitution is illegal, most prevalent in countries where prostitution is legalized, and in between in those countries where prostitution is legal but procuring illegal.' (15)
A second study concluded:
'On average, countries where prostitution is legal experience larger reported human trafficking inflows...' (16)
The presence of the strong correlation between levels of trafficking and legality of prostitution provides cogent empirical evidence in favour of the premise.
Human trafficking has many negative effects and virtually no positives. Victims 'often suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, passport theft, and even death' (17). Since all of the above are clearly harmful, I am justified in asserting that human trafficking is harmful.
As previously established, the government ought to serve the people. Since a harmful law doesn't serve the people, the government shouldn't make it.
The conclusion logically follows.
I have presented two arguments that both negate the resolution.
(1) Google: 'Define encourage'
(14) Google: 'German population 1997'
Premise 1-Definition of Prostitution
Con has yet to provide a clear definition to what prostitution is. Prostitution is the act of offering one’s self for hire to engage in sexual relations. (1) This means that there is consent between all parties involved, to exchange a service (sex).
Premise 2-Purpose of Laws
For prostitution to be illegal there needs to be laws against it. So that ultimately leads to the question, why do laws exist? Laws are in place to protect citizen’s general safety and their rights from external forces. (2) This means that as long as one is not harming another person’s rights or safety, they are not acting outside the law, and are free to make any decisions they wish. This overall allows people to have individual autonomy and free will, as long as they are not affecting another.
Countries which have legal prostitution tend to regulate it (such as Germany and the Netherlands). Two of the main problems which face prostitutes and/or johns (people who buy prostitutes), which threaten their safety, are rape/assault and STDs. There are already laws against rape/assault (which I’ll get more into later), but STDs cannot be prevented the same way. However, many areas where prostitution is legal have put laws in place which make STDs among prostitutes a lot less likely. For example, in counties where prostitution is legal in Nevada, condom use and weekly tests for STDs are required by law. (3) There are also similar laws in Germany. (4, 5) In fact, even without laws requiring things such as condoms, most prostitutes won’t work without one, which is how it is in the Netherlands. (6) As a result of these policies, areas which have legal prostitution see less STDs. This can be observed in Nevada, Germany, Australia, and Rhode Island (where prostitution was temporarily legal). (3, 4, 7, 8) Regulation has worked so well in Nevada, to the point where STDs are less likely among Nevada prostitutes than among California porn stars. (3)
Premise 4-Dangers of Illegal Prostitution
Con mentions a stat that says about 80% of prostitutes have been raped, which I agree with. In fact, most prostitutes are too scared to even report violence from customers to the police, because they don’t want to be prosecuted. (9) So, one would expect rape of prostitutes to go down in areas where prostitution is legal, because they don’t have to worry about being arrested or otherwise punished. The stats support this. For example, despite other crimes happening at about the same rate, rape decreased dramatically when rape was legal in Rhode Island. (8) The opposite ended up happening when Queensland banned brothels, with a 149% increase in women being raped, compared to a 49% increase in other offenses against women. (10) Overall, studies have shown that if rape was legalized throughout the US the rape rate would decrease by about 25%. (10)
Another major problem, that doesn’t exist nearly as much when rape is legal are abusive pimps. Studies have shown that 89% of women in prostitution want to escape. (11) In fact, pimps often manipulate, threaten, and abuse women in order to make sure they remain prostitutes. (12) However, if women were protected under the law they would no longer have to serve pimps and could work for a brothel, which could not abuse their employees or force them to leave.
As already shown prostitution in its pure form is done with consent, so no one’s rights are harmed. Also, as shown regulations can make it safer. Plus, having it be illegal makes it more dangerous than it has to be. For that reason prostitution should be legal.
Premise 5-Profit from Legal Prostitution
Legalizing prostitution would also provide a huge profit. Prostitution is a huge industry, which costs a lot to enforce laws against. For example, in the US $200,000,000 is spent annually on enforcing laws regarding prostitution. (13) However, potentially billions of dollars could be made from taxing prostitution, in the US alone. (14)
Argument 2-Financial Benefits
As already shown prostitution would bring a lot of money into the government. This could be great for many reasons. This money could be spent on things such as police, social services, or even awareness of why people shouldn’t hire prostitutes.
Argument 3-Justice Benefits
If the police have to focus less time on prostitution they can focus more on more serious crimes such as murder, rape, and assault. Plus, it would lead to less people being arrested for a crime which harms no one.
Rebuttal 1-Encoragement of Prostitution
I disagree with Con’s reasoning for the necessity of laws to maximize people’s welfare. As mentioned in my 2nd premise, laws are better off to protect others from external forces, but otherwise they should have completely free autonomy. This way the government treats all people equal, assuming they don't harm others.
Sex Tourism: A culture of promiscuity is not inherently bad. One may subjectively see it as a bad, but it’s not objectively bad. Con does say it hurts the city’s reputation, along with its tourism industry. However, having legal prostitution may improve the city’s reputation, to some people, specifically libertarians. Plus, Amsterdam is still one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, having more tourists than cities such as Tokyo and Los Angeles. (15) Plus, even though Con’s argument came from tourism workers in Amsterdam, it’s still essentially a subjective opinion with no evidence.
Divorce: Con suggests that divorce would increase if prostitution is legal. However, no evidence is provided to support this. In fact, divorce rates in Germany and the Netherlands have increased at roughly the same rate as other Western countries and are in many cases lower:
Drug Use: Con provides no insight on the cause of this correlation. It could simply be because they feel like they can’t leave, which is must less of a problem in legal prostitution as mentioned above. However, the cause could easily be something else as well. For example, most prostitutes are poor, and drug abuse tends to be higher among poor people. (21, 22) Also, drug use is not notably higher in Germany or the Netherlands compared to their European neighbours. In fact, both countries have among the lowest amount of people injecting drugs per capita. (23)
As for the prostitutes almost everything I addressed responds to Con’s concerns. Essentially, keeping it illegal just causes things such as rape and murder to occur a lot more in prostitution.
I disproved both premises to build this conclusion (although I only had to disprove one).
I accept that prostitution would increase.
C1 has been disproved, so C2 therefore has been as well.
Rebuttal 2-Human Trafficking
I accept this premise.
I accept this premise.
If you follow the view of personal autonomy you know the prostitutes are responsible for their own actions to enter human trafficking, an illegal activity, even with legal prostitution. However, even if you follow Con’s view, legal prostitution would still provide a net benefit. Currently in the US there are estimated to be 14,500-17,500 people in human trafficking. (24)
Let’s say the 17,500 numbers grows 100% if prostitution is legal, meaning 17,500 more people are negatively affected.
However, let’s examine the decline in rape. There was a 31% decrease in rape rate after rape was legalized in Rhode Island. (8) We’ll be conservative and say the decline would only be 25% nationally. Con uses the stat that 80% of prostitutes have been raped. We’ll use that stat as well. It is also estimated that there are 1,000,000 prostitutes in the US (we’ll just account for them in the calculations, not any new prostitutes who most likely haven’t been raped). (25):
Decline rate*(Number of Prostitutes*Rape Rate)=Drop in Rapes
So it appears that at least 200,000 less women will be raped. So:
17,500-200,000=-182,500 net loss in people being harmed under legal prostitution. Not to mention, this is a very conservative estimate. I said human trafficking would increase 100%, which is likely larger than it would be. Plus, I took the largest estimate of people currently in human trafficking in the US. Also, I dropped Rhode Island’s rape decline rate 6% and didn’t even account for the fact that stat was for overall rapes, not just prostitutes (suggesting it’d be larger drop among prostitutes). This also doesn’t account for the fact less people would have STDs, less people assaulted/murdered, and less people feeling trapped as prostitutes. Finally, it doesn’t account for the potential benefit from greater revenue for the government and more time for police to focus on serious crimes (such as human trafficking).
Disproved premise 3.
I accept this definition. But it doesn't necessarily mean that there is consent involved from all parties - this is because people can be coerced, threatened or forced into prostitutional sex.
In round 2, I presented a cogent philosophical proof that the purpose of a democratic government is to serve the common good. I agree that laws exists to protect 'citizens' general safety and rights from external forces', but this is only an indirect method of ultimately serving the common good. Pro seems to imply that there shouldn't be a law against prostitution under this criterion, but I dispute this. A law against prostitution will 'protect citizen's general safety' for the exact reasons I elucidated in my first argument in Round 2. And whilst a single solicitation of a prostitute will have a negligible effect on other peoples' rights and safety, the widespread occurrence of prostitution contributes to an overall harmful effect on society and those within it.
To use an analogy, shoplifting a chocolate bar will have a negligible effect on peoples' safety or rights, but if it happened frequently and went unpunished, then it would contribute to an overall negative effect. This is why shoplifting is illegal.
Whilst regulations exist in countries which have legalised prostitution, they have proved startlingly ineffectual and can even prove counterproductive:
- Legalising prostitution changes rape, assault, violence and STIs from serious criminal and health problems to 'workplace occupational hazards'. (1) Which disguises serious crimes as health and safety concerns.
- Legalisation in Nevada has seen 'rapes and assaults by customers [being covered up] by the management.' (2)
- 'Legalisation actually makes it more difficult to prosecute rapists, perpetrators, and traffickers. Because the sex industries are more legitimised under legalisation, there is no basic presumption that buying or selling someone else"s body is a crime.' (3)
Pro writes that the legalising prostitution would prevent STDs, but the evidence proves otherwise:
- When Victoria, Australia, legalised brothels, STDs and AIDs actually increased, this is because testing only one of the two sexual partners is self-defeating as well as the factor that it creates a false sense of security to brothel owners as well as clients. Also, prostitutes often went to great lengths to avoid testing, even using false IDs and moving areas. (4)
- An article within the World Journal of AIDs wrote that:
'It is apparent that mandatory testing of HIV and STIs among sex workers in Australia has proven to be a barrier to otherwise successful HIV and STI peer education, prevention and free and anonymous testing and treatment. The outcomes of mandatory testing are counterproductive to reducing HIV and STI rates, do not reach the intended target group, are costly and inefficient' (5)
- Pro writes that STD tests are required by law in Nevada, but this is no longer true (6).
Therefore, as well as there being evidence that legalisation is correlated to an increase in STDs and AIDs (which stands to reason, since legal prostitution = more people having sex with prostitutes), the preventative measures have proved to be virtually useless.
Condom use is good, but it cannot be realistically enforced; 73% of prostitutes reported that men offer to pay extra for sex without a condom and 45% of them said that men became abusive when asked to use a condom. (7) So even if mandatory condom use was introduced, it would probably do more harm than good by increasing the chances that a customer abuses the prostitute.
Moreover, mandatory STD checks don't actually prevent prostitutes from getting STDs (just like checking for cancer doesn't stop someone getting cancer), all it does is protect the Johns by removing the infected prostitutes - it doesn't protect the prostitutes themselves.
Pro states that:
'Regulation has worked so well in Nevada, to the point where STDs are less likely among Nevada prostitutes than among California porn stars.'
Which is a laughable statement; porn stars are already a high-risk group for STDs (they too have sex countless times every year with multiple people), so one cannot justifiably say that regulation has 'worked so well' by comparing prostitutes to yet another high-risk group. Regulation can only be called good enough if it reduces STD levels to around the national average.
Pro's first statement is that some prostitutes are too scared to inform the police of abuse, for fear of prosecution. But this is only an argument to decriminalise prostitutes (such as is the case in Sweden), it doesn't justify full-on legalisation. Hence this comment doesn't pertain to the resolution of the debate.
Next, Pro writes:
'rape decreased dramatically when rape was legal in Rhode Island.'
Yet rape was never legal in Rhode Island.
All-in-all, Pro is making the argument that if prostitution is legalised, rape would decrease. His Queensland study can simply be countered by the fact that Germany is the country with the most prostitution in Europe but also has a relatively high rape rate for an European country (8). All these contradicting correlations demonstrate is that there is no conclusive correlation between rape rates and prostitution. Pro's second study (this one --> ) is dubious; the correlation is a very weak one and is hardly conclusive. In fact, the scatter graph within the study showed that the majority of countries with low prostitution-availability also have low rape rates - the weak correlation is only hinted at by the extremes.
Even if legalising prostitution would reduce rape convictions, it wouldn't reduce overall occurrences of rape because, technically, most prostitution is itself rape. In legalised places, this won't come under the statistics of 'rape' because prostitution is approved of by the government.
So why is most prostitution actually rape? Well, any non-consensual sex is rape (9), and sex is only consensual if it is free from threats or coercion (10). However, 80% of Nevadan prostitutes want to leave prostitution (11) but many are prevented from leaving (ibid.) and it is made very difficult to refuse clients (12). It stands to reason that if 80% of prostitutes want to leave, but remain in the industry, they are remaining because of some form of threat or coercion. Since this does not constitute legal consent, prostitution is non-consensual and therefore rape. This is Nevada, where prostitution is legal - so Pro is incorrect in thinking that legalising prostitution will ensure that most prostitution is consensual. He states that a brothel 'could not abuse their employees', but Nevada has shown this to be false (13).
Conclusion to Rebuttal of argument 1
I have provided evidence that legal prostitution does not help mitigate STDs, nor improve the livelihoods of most prostitutes. Therefore, legalising prostitution will not help prostitutes.
Premise 5 & Argument 2
This argument contradicts Pro's earlier point about the purpose of laws; 'to protect citizen’s general safety and their rights'. As I have demonstrated that legalising prostitution would be harmful, the government cannot justifiably legalise it for monetary gain. The Government isn't serving the people if it harms the common good in order to make money. Pro's logic would also imply that the Government ought to legalise cocaine and heroine as well, since they would then be able to tax it and make money.
This argument is built upon the presupposition that prostitution is 'a crime which harms no one', which I have thoroughly refuted. Furthermore, this argument uses reasoning that would entail that we should legalise all non-serious crimes in order to focus on the serious ones - an absurd conclusion that would lead to a chaotic society.
Defence of my argument #1
I have no problem with accepting Pro's second premise, but as I have demonstrated, banning prostitution protects the safety and rights of people by protecting them from human trafficking as well as protecting the prostitutes themselves. Johns pump money into this harmful industry and hence, overall, are actually contributing to the harm. Ergo, the law against prostitution is justified.
Sex tourism puts an intense demand on the country's sex industry, which prompts pimps to seek out new prostitutes, often having to resort to trafficking (which links into my second argument).
My divorce point was just a conjecture, which postulates that prostitution could increase divorce, not that it necessarily does.
Even if the causal link between drugs and prostitution is unknown, a startling correlation still exists. Pro writes that 'most prostitutes are poor, and drug abuse tends to be higher among poor people', but if this is the case, legalisation won't change this problem.
Besides, even if I admit there are no societal harms of prostitution, it remains harmful to the prostitutes regardless of its legality, as I have already proved in both my round 2 and my attack of Pro's arguments.
As I have defended both P1 and P2, C1 and therefore C2 also stand. My argument remains sound.
In Pro's impressive-looking calculation, he forgets to factor in the huge increase of numbers of prostitutes that would result from legalisation (making his 1 million figure increase to about 4 million). This extra 3 million prostitutes, of which ~80% will be raped, will far outweigh the supposed (and doubtful) assumption that legalising prostitution would reduce rape by 182,500 (25%).
Therefore, Pro's calculation fails to show that the reduced rape rate would outweigh the human-trafficking increase, and so my argument stands.
Defense of my Argument:
Con mentions that one can be coerced, threatened, or forced into prostitutional sex. However, I’d classify that as rape, which is already illegal.
I think the primary difference in Con and I’s beliefs is that Con believes that people shouldn’t be allowed to do something that potentially harm themselves, while I more support allowing people to do anything, so long as it doesn’t hurt others. I’ll address this is my rebuttal of Con’s case.
Con first asserts that things like rape, assault, violence, and STIs would simply become workplace occupational hazards, and that disguises what they truly are. This argument, in it of itself is completely meaningless. For example, policemen can be shot and killed, meaning that can be considered a workplace hazard. It’s not a normal part of the job, but it can happen. The person who shot the cop is still most likely going to be punished though. The same thing can apply to prostitutes who are raped or assaulted. It’s not a normal part of the job, but it can happen. The person who did that to the prostitute would still most likely be punished. As for the STIs, porn stars also run that risk and many other workplaces are at high risk for getting a disease (e.g. miners).
Con then asserts that rapes and assaults are being covered up in Nevada, However, I find this whole claim questionable. It came from a clearly one-sided opinion peace and this was all that was said on the cover ups, “And, contrary to the common claim that the brothel will protect women from the dangerous, crazy clients on the streets, rapes and assaults by customers are covered up by the management." (Con’s 4th) No evidence of this was actually provided and simply stated. Even if some did though, it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be legal. If a bank is committing fraud, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have banks. There obviously just needs to be more regulation and oversight on them and the victims also need to remember they can call the cops as well.
Con then asserts that it’s harder to punish those who assault the prostitute in any way because selling one’s self for sex is no longer illegal. There’s no evidence of this happening though and the articles only real support for this was “sexual abusers can use excuses like, “she’s just a ho who wanted more money” to discredit anyone in the sex industries who tries to get legal support.” (Con’s 3rd) That really doesn’t explain anything though.
Con says STDs and AIDs increase in Victoria, Australia. He mentions how many went to great lengths to avoid testing. That’s their fault. However, in Nevada brothels are responsible if a customer becomes infected with a disease, so that could greatly help avoid that problem. (1) Even so, the statement by Con isn’t even true. His source didn’t provide any statistics, just simply stated it. However, Victorian prostitutes actually have very low STD/HIV rates. In fact, it’s an even lower rate than the average in Victoria. The LASH Repot found that the rates of STD and AIDs for Victorian sex workers are: “0.1/100 person-years for HIV, 0.1/100 person-years for syphilis, 3.3/100 person-years for chlamydia, and 0.7/100 person-years for gonorrhoea”. (2)
Con mentions Nevada changed its laws, but it doesn’t matter that they no longer do it (for the debate), what they did do can still be a model.
Con then asserts that condom use cannot be realistically enforced. He shows that most prostitutes have been offered more to have sex without a condom. If both parties agree to it, obviously nothing bad is occurring though. However, Con then mentions how some men become abusive when asked about condoms. This could be avoided in a legal setting though. For example, many brothels in Nevada include negotiations before anything is actually happening, so before anything began a guy would be required to put on a condom. (3) Plus, like I mentioned last round, most prostitutes in the Netherlands won’t work without a condom being used, even though it’s not actually required.
As for protection regarding the STD tests, it allows them to be found and possibly dealt with. In fact, bacterial STDs can only possibly be treated if found early enough. (4)
Con first mentions how you can simply decriminalize prostitution without legalizing it. There a few problems with that however. For instance, a john could potentially be punished simply for wanting to pay money to have sex (which the other person would have agreed with), which isn’t even wrong. Another is that it could lead to prostitute having to work with riskier clients. The University of Gothenburg said regarding the issue, “some women take greater risks, get into cars where there is more than one man and accept lower prices...the people in Malmö say that the clients are so few that women have to accept those they would have refused earlier, in order to make enough money for drugs.” (5) The Norwegian Ministry of Justice says a similar thing, “The Swedish street prostitutes experience a tougher time. They are more frequently exposed to dangerous clients, while the serious clients are afraid of being arrested.” (5) Problems such as these would be a lot prevalent in a brothel.
Con points out I said rape was legal in Rhode Island. That was a mistake on my part (for some reason I made that same mistake twice), I meant when prostitution was legal there was a large drop in rape. (6)
Con mentions how Germany has a high rape rate compared to Europe. However, that can be misleading. For one, rape may be defined differently in different countries. Also, rape may simply be reported less in other countries because German prostitutes are more willing to contact police. Plus, when you consider Germany is much larger than most other European countries. Even though it is per capita, it is being compared to relatively smaller sample sizes, which can overall be less reliable. Plus, organized crime is more prevalent in larger areas. (7) When compared to countries of similar population (notably, France and the UK) the rape rate is much lower. (Con’s 8th) Also, it may be noted some of the countries with the lowest rape rates on Con’s source are Switzerland and Greece where prostitution is legal. (Con’s 8th)
Con then criticizes my “2nd study”. He seems to be referencing his own source though since that scatter graph only exists in his source (and I never cited that study). Regardless, I already pointed out the flaws in comparing rape rates from other countries. Plus, the study itself is making reference to the cost of prostitutes. (Con’s 8th) That’s overall a pretty useless stat and doesn’t help prove or negate the resolution.
Con says 80% of Nevadan prostitutes want to leave. However, the article only said 80% of the reported amount interviewed. Also, Con’s source doesn’t say they can’t quit their job, so realistically if they want to, they can. It does however say that many of these brothels are abusive and put lots of restrictions on the women. However, that alone doesn’t mean prostitution shouldn’t be legal. Similar restrictions would exist with a pimp, except the police can’t do anything about it. Increase police enforcement and many of these problems don’t exist. If a business in any legal industry was doing this in the US, they wouldn’t try to ban the service or product they provide, they’d just punish that business.
I disproved all of Con’s rebuttals.
I proved that legalizing prostitution would on balance not be harmful.
I proved that prostitution should not be a crime.
This will essentially come down to whether or not prostitution is a benefit if legal, which won’t be discussed in this premise.
Sex Tourism: I’ll address the human trafficking later. Otherwise, having a large sex tourism benefit is only a benefit, as it brings more money into the country.
Divorce: Con says that divorce could go up. Lots of thing hypothetically could happen anytime laws are passed or repeal. Considering there has no evidence of divorced increasing due to prostitution, this point is irrelevant.
Drugs: Legalization likely would help improve drug abuse (although considering the fact it is already the way it is with illegal prostitution, it’s really an irrelevant argument for Con). The reason it could help is because drug abuse is higher among street prostitutes and if it were legal more could work in brothels. (8)
However, Con says that is still harms the prostitutes and I responded to that elsewhere.
Con never really rebutted anything here. I already weighed the data heavily in his favour, but I also calculated that the decrease would just be among prostitutes. However, it was Rhode Island’s total rape rate (by the way, I made the same mistake saying they legalized rape here) that dropped (keep in mind, no other states had similar results, nor any other crimes in Rhode Island), not just prostitute rape rate. (6) The reason for this could be that because people can pay for sex legally, they may be less inclined to rape someone illegally. I’ll drop the drop to 15% (which was less than half of what it was in Rhode Island) and I’ll just apply that number to total number of rapes because that was what the 31% number was accounting for. Government statistics on this may be unreliable due to unreported rapes. Studies suggest about 1.3 million people are raped a year (I’ll be conservative and drop it to 1 million). (9)
Still a much larger drop than the increase in human trafficking would be.
Deconstruction of Pro's argument
The fact that coerced prostitution is actually rape is a point I made, but prostitution isn't consensual by definition. It is also true that legalising prostitution hasn't ever succeeded in separating the consensual prostitution from the coerced prostitution. This is largely due to the increase of human trafficking caused by legalised prostitution.
Pro misunderstands my political philosophy; I share the sentiment of 'allowing people to do anything, so long as it doesn't hurt others', but I argue that we shouldn't allow Johns to visit a prostitute, because this contributes to the overall sex industry. If the sex industry is increased, then this does hurt others due to the increase in both human trafficking and ordinary prostitution.
To summarise, I agree with P2, but since buying prostitutes contributes to a harmful industry, I contend that buying a prostitute does hurt others and therefore shouldn't be allowed.
The reason that rape, assault and violence are somewhat disguised as 'occupational hazards' as opposed to blatant crimes is because legalising prostitution legitimises the industry. If prostitution is illegal, the prostitute is considered unemployed by the law, because the profession in which she works isn't a legitimate one. Therefore, if she is raped or assaulted then this is treated as the rape or assault of an ordinary citizen, and consequently treated very seriously. But if prostitution is legalised, the prostitute is considered employed and so, if she does get raped or assaulted as a direct result of her work, then the crime is treated as a work-related occurrence. Since work-related occurrences are generally sorted out by the employer, and the legitimisation of prostitution also legitimises the employers (pimps/brothel owners), the crime report would generally go through the employers before it goes to the police, and the police won't step in unless the employer reports the crime (because they expect the pimps to report crimes, which is a result of legitimising the pimps' position). This gives the pimps and brothel owners the chance to cover up any assaults or crimes.
So there, that's the (lengthy) explanation of how legalising prostitution can lead to cover ups.
Pro writes that:
'As for the STIs, porn stars also run that risk and many other workplaces are at high risk for getting a disease (e.g. miners).'
The 'porn-stars' reference is irrelevant because I also disagree with legalising porn production. The reference to miners is also irrelevant, because whilst being a miner may be near as a harmful as being a prostitute, mining is a useful profession, whereas prostitution is not.
Pro disputes my source that reported the frequent cover-ups by brothel management, seemingly because the source I cited in turn doesn't cite a source. But this is not a valid argument against sources, as then any given source would require a further source, which itself would require a further source, and so on ad infinitum. But since an infinite regress cannot exist, this would mean that all sources are invalid. Generally, a source that comes from a distinguished observer (the writer is a former executive director of an association of lawyers) who appears to have conducted extensive research into the topic (he writes a whole paper on it) can be trusted as a valid source.
Pro uses another tenuous analogy:
'If a bank is committing fraud, it doesn"t mean we shouldn"t have banks.'
Banks are necessary, brothels are not. If banks weren't necessary, and it was found that many banks commit fraud, then there would indeed be a good reason to abolish banks.
Regarding STDs, Pro dismisses the problem that many prostitutes go to great lengths to avoid testing because 'it's their fault'. But this doesn't avoid the problem; there is still a risk for non-prostitutes because they may inadvertently sleep with infected prostitutes that have evaded testing. Whilst I would not sympathise with the John (person who buys the prostitute), he could then pass it on to other people, including other prostitutes.
Moreover, Pro's argument only works if condom policies are enforceable, which they are not. You won't get fired for not using a condom (1) and there is no realistic way for brothel-management to check whether the customer is using a condom
once they're in the room. Therefore, condom policies may be good in principle, but aren't enforceable in practice.
Regarding the Victoria case study, it is irrelevant that the STD rates of Victorian prostitutes are very low, the fact remains that STD rates increased overall. If anything, all this goes to show is that legalisation increases the risk to the general public, even if it doesn't increase the risk to prostitutes.
I don't argue that legalisation would make it more risky for prostitutes, I argue that legalisation won't substantially reduce the risk, and that legalisation would increase the amount of prostitutes meaning that more people will be open to that risk.
I would conjecture that the reason STD rates for Victorian prostitutes are said to be lower than the general public is that the general public are more likely to report STDs (they have much less to lose, compared to prostitutes where they stand to lose their jobs if they report that they have an STD).
The next point is another about condom policies. Pro writes that if both parties agree to sex without a condom, 'nothing bad is occurring'. I would disagree, as I have said before, men offer more money to have unprotected sex and so this is a form of monetary coercion in which the prostitute is threatened with a reduced fee if she insists on using a condom. This is not valid consent, because it is a form of coercion.
Whilst it may be true that Dutch prostitutes won't work without a condom, this is a personal work policy and therefore is unaffected by official legalisation. A prostitute can still insist on using a condom - she doesn't need prostitution to be legal.
Even if some STDs can be treated if found early, it is obviously preferable for them to have never been contracted at all. Therefore it is preferable for less people to work as prostitutes, which also means that it is preferable for prostitution to not be legalised.
Pro argues that the Swedish system (which is my counter-proposal), is more dangerous for prostitutes because they have to 'work with riskier clients. However, the claim that this system is dangerous for the prostitutes is not supported by reports, which actually suggests that 'there is no evidence of [this] phenomenon'. (2)
A point of discussion in this debate is over the correlation between rape rates and prostitution-legality, but I think Pro is making the mistake of thinking that prostitution can noticeably affect the national rape rate. 1 in 6 women are raped (3), whereas a far tinier proportion are involved in prostitution. This suggests that the national rape statistics cannot be noticeably affected by the state of prostitution in a country and so it is misleading to base an argument on these correlations.
Pro tries to distance himself from a study that he says he 'never cited'. The study referred to is entitled 'Prostitution and Sex Crimes' by Kirby Cundiff (4), and concludes that legalising prostitution reduces rape rates by 25%. I dismiss this poor study because its conclusion is based on a very weak correlation that does not entail conclusive results. Pro tries to say that he never cited this study, but he does! In Pro's round 2, his tenth source takes its conclusions from Cundiff's study. Therefore, Pro's whole premise that legalising prostitution would reduce rape by 25% is based on Cundiff's study. Pro doesn't realise this, and shoots himself in the foot by criticising the study for using a 'pretty useless stat'.
Next, in regards to the stat that 80% of Nevadan prostitutes want to leave, it is a red herring fallacy for Pro to say that it was only 80% of the reported amount interviewed. An interview is a perfectly valid form of gathering statistical data, and so Pro cannot refute my stat by pointing out that it comes from an interview. I also never said that they can't leave their job, my source says that brothels and pimps make it very hard for them to leave, which is near as effective for coercing prostitutes to remain prostitutes even if they don't really want to be.
Pro says that the police won't be able to solve abuse if prostitution is illegal, since the 'police can't do anything about it'. Yet the opposite is true - if prostitution is legal, pimps are legitimate employers who can legally set working conditions for workers, the police won't be able to do anything because the pimps are legitimised by the government.
Pro's whole rebuttal is based on a faulty utilitarian calculation. It doesn't matter that he 'already weighed the data heavily in [my] favour' if the actual calculation is wrong.
His initial calculation was:
Decline rate*(Number of Prostitutes*Rape Rate)=Drop in Rapes
The problem with this calculation is it treats the number of prostitutes as a constant. This is wrong because even Pro concedes that legalisation would increase the amount of prostitutes.
Taking into account the increase in prostitutes after legalisation (around 4x the amount before, see my R2 sources 12-14), these are the actual changes in rapes (using Pro's numbers).
Rapes = non-prostitute rapes before + (prostitute rape rate x No. prostitutes before)= (1,000,000) + (0.8 x 1000000) = 1,800,000
Rapes = non-prostitute rapes after+ (prostitute rape rate x No. prostitutes after)= (750,000) + (0.8 x 4000000) = 3,950,000
Therefore, we see that legalising prostitution would increase the number of rapes, by virtue of the fact that there will be more prostitutes. This refutes Pro's sole rebuttal to my human trafficking argument.
My human trafficking argument stands.
Kind of rushing this since I'm really tired, so it will be what it is.
Defense of my Argument:
All of Con’s points here will be addressed in depth later this round.
Con says he agrees with this premise, so at this point I just need to rebut that legal prostitution provides more harm than good, and therefore helps/protects people.
All of Con’s concerns regarding rape or assault becoming a workplace hazard can simply be fixed with regular inspection of brothels or the prostitute simply reporting it (like most people should when they get raped). Also, you must account for the fact that pimps would never report a rape when prostitution is illegal, so even if there is a slight increase in rapes being reported during prostitution, it’s still beneficial to have it legal.
Con accepts that regarding disease, other professions are at similar risk via their work such as miners. However, his whole basis on why it’s fine for miners to be at risk for diseases, but not prostitutes, is because mining is a useful profession. However, as shown through the decrease in things such as rape and STDs, legal prostitution can be considered a “useful” profession. Also, how does on dictate what’s a useful profession and what isn’t? Con’s simply being biased because he subjectively sees one profession as useful, but not another.
Con tries to defend his source that lacked any evidence, saying that by my logic all sources are useless and by defending the writer’s acclaim. I’ll first re-address the lack of evidence. As mentioned last round, all that was stated regarding the matter was, “And, contrary to the common claim that the brothel will protect women from the dangerous, crazy clients on the streets, rapes and assaults by customers are covered up by the management." This source lacks evidence that’s it’s occurring. Had the author given examples, statistics, or any real reason to believe it, it could be considered a legit source. However, it lacks all of that. As for Con’s defense of the author, simply due to his research and former profession, he is committing the logical fallacy known as appealing to the authority, which means (1):
1. Person A is (claimed to be) an authority on subject S.
2. Person A makes claim C about subject S.
3. Therefore, C is true.
It doesn’t matter how great the author is, she made a bare assertion without evidence to back it up. Con in turn, took the her word for it, and used it in his argument. For this reason, I urge voters to dismiss this as evidence of any kind.
Con then dismisses my bank fraud analogy. I’ve already demonstrated he has no evidence to support brothel cover-ups, so I shouldn’t need to defend this, but I will anyways. His only point on the matter was essentially that banks are necessary, yet brothels are not. However, that simply ignores my whole point. Just because certain institutions in a profession are flawed it doesn’t mean all should be banned.
As for the john who may get infected with STDs due to prostitutes dodging it. He ignores my point that the brothel could be held responsible if one of their prostitutes passes down an STD, like in Nevada. Also, the john could use a condom which would dramatically decrease the chances of them getting an STD.
Con mentions how condom wear cannot be enforced. That would be a fair point, except if both parties agree to do it without a condom, they essentially agreed to sex without a condom (just like any other time two people agree to sex without a condom). However, if condom wear is required, it gives the women more ground to protect herself. Plus from the STD statistics I provided showing how prostitutes have a lot less STDs when it’s legal, we can see it works.
Con goes on to say that the fact Victorian prostitutes reported less STDs than the rest of the population is irrelevant, because the population as a whole have seen STD rates increase, perhaps due to legal prostitution. However, there’s no proof of any correlation, but there is strong evidence that condom policies and STD tests have led to less Australian prostitutes having STDs. (2) He does suggest, it could be due to prostitutes no reporting STDs. However, that’s just speculation, but in places such as Nevada where the brothel is punished for STDs being passed and tests being dodged, we’ve seen STDs drop dramatically and other examples I provided in my opening arguments which Con didn’t even touch. (3) Not to mention, Australian sex workers are known for wearing condoms a lot. (2)
Con then brings up how johns pay more for condoms not to be used, so therefore its coercion. That’s ridiculous though, because that’s how almost every job works. A lot of people hate their job and would quit, but they stay simply because they need the money. No one’s forcing them to stay, so they obviously feel as if they should. Same thing applies with requiring condom usage. For example, if a waitress shows a lot of cleavage and flirts, she’s more likely to get a higher tip. She may not want to do it, but she decides it’s worthwhile for the extra money.
Con then points how Dutch prostitutes working without a condom is a personal choice, but they could do that when it’s illegal. However, that’s not true, since as Con mentioned many johns will abuse prostitutes who insist on a condom. But, when it’s legal they are more protected under the law (which is why STD rates are low among Dutch prostitutes, compared to where it’s illegal).
Con then mentions that although STDs can be caught early, it’s preferable for them not to be passed on. I agree, in fact, I already provided evidence in many countries/states where prostitutes have lower STDs in legal areas than where it’s illegal. Therefore, this point is essentially irrelevant.
Con first starts off defending the Swedish model by providing a link to an article, which is a broken link to what was supposed to be a study by the Swedish government. The problem with this is, no one can verify this source and there’s a good chance the Swedish government may want to manipulate data or disregard evidence in their study that would make their policy look bad. Also, there have been numerous studies by objective sources and plenty of prostitutes who have admitted to the fact they are have to take riskier clients (which I stated last round). (4)
Con says that I can’t attribute a drop in rape due to legal prostitution, due to a weak correlation. He mentions 1 in 6 women are raped, but as I pointed out earlier, many women don’t report rapes. However, I did provide evidence how in Rhode Island (among other places where prostitution is legal) rape has dropped, despite no other crimes decreasing or no other s states of similar population seeing the same drop. (5) Con never even rebuts this study or others I provided on rape dropping when prostitution is legal.
Con points out I did cite the study which said rape would drop 25% if prostitution was legal in the US. That could have destroyed my case, but I provided actual evidence of legal prostitution dropping rape rates, which Con barely touched or didn’t respond to at all.
Con says it’s a red herring for me to mention that only 80% of prostitutes interviewed said they wanted to leave. However, that’s not true. Everyone knows that a large sample size is needed for reliable data, and we don’t really know how many were interviewed. For all we know the person doing the interviews picked 5 of the most depressed looking prostitutes and 4 of them said they wanted to leave. Also, Con admits that they can leave their job, which means they are choosing to stay, which defeats Con’s whole point.
Con then raises concerns again how brothels are more protected under legal prostitution, but I already said police can do regular inspections of brothels.
I have successfully defended my case and since Con dropped his 1st argument all I need to do now is prove that the increase in human trafficking would be insignificant when compared to the large decrease in things such as rape.
Con makes a fatal mistake here, by thinking that 80% of prostitutes would still be raped under legal prostitution. I’ve already shown real examples (such as Queensland and Rhode Island) of rape declining when prostitution is legal, including among prostitutes.
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