The Instigator
Pro (for)
8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Should an active* prostitute infected with the AIDS virus be charged with attempted murder?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/25/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,865 times Debate No: 31666
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (3)




active* meaning they are still a prostitute

And we're going to assume that the prostitute knows that they have AIDS, but continues to have sex for money anyway.


The prostitue is the victim.

Often she is a sex slave with no choice in the matter.

The average age of initiation into prostitution is between 12 and 14.2[1].

These are typically children who have run away or have been thrown away by their parents, and they have a host of psychosocial problems[1].

"For the vast majority of the world's prostituted women, prostitution is the experience of being hunted, dominated, harassed, assaulted and battered," write Melissa Farley and Vanessa Kelly in "Prostitution: A Critical Review of the Medical and Social Sciences Literature," published in the most recent edition of Women and Criminal Justice, a journal of the American Political Science Association[2].

The crime is relatively minor

Using a knife in a bar fight carries a charge of Volantary Manslaughter. If there is malice and aforethought with intent to kill, this is First Degree Murder[3].

Transmission of HIV is in a different category, it is passive, the carrier is a victim of an illness, and as a prostitute might not be mentally capable of understanding, or forced into the sexual encounter.

Further. "The Obama administration's National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States concluded that "the continued existence and enforcement of these types of laws [that criminalize HIV infection] run counter to scientific evidence about routes of HIV transmission and may undermine the public health goals of promoting HIV screening and treatment"[4]

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my debate.

You raised the point that prostitution is usually not something done voluntarily, and that prostitutes usually enter the ring of prostitution at a young age. However, the question up for debate is whether or not a prostitute should be charged with attempted murder if she knowingly has unprotected sex with men who do not know that she is infected.

Now, you've stated that a prostitute may not be capable of understanding the severity of the disease, or that they may be forced into a sexual encounter. We would have to assume that all prostitutes are mentally retarded, or the they weren't made aware the gravity of the situation and the disease they contracted when being tested in the first place. Since we have no proof for this, I think it's safe to dismiss this. As for prostitutes being forced into a sexual encounter ie. rape, there is not really much you can say about this as you would have to address the topic of rape and whether not a rapist would "stop" the rape if they were told that they victim had AIDS.

I'm in my phone so excuse any mistakes.


The pimp won't let her get tested

It is not in the best interests of the criminal underground to inform their slaves of their status of HIV positive.

She doesn't know she has HIV

"Sometimes HIV symptoms don't appear for years—sometimes even a decade—after infection.[1]"

To claim that a prostitute knows she has AIDS is a gross misunderstanding of the sex slave industry.

She has no choice

"Human trafficking is the trade in human beings, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery ...[2]"

"According to estimate from the International Labor Office (ILO), every year the human trafficking industry generates 32 billion USD, half of which ($15.5 billion) is made in industrialized countries, and a third of which ($9.7 billion) is made in Asia.[2]"

Debate Round No. 2


You are raising some good points, but the description says "the prostitute knows they have AIDS, but continues to have sex for money anyway."

That being said, we would have to dismiss the "she doesn't know she has HIV" argument as well as the "her pimp won't let her get tested" argument. We are now left with the "she has no choice" argument.

The only legal prostitution in the United States is in a few counties in Nevada. As we all know, this does not stop human trafficking and sexual slavery and whatnot. A woman may become a prostitute simply to make ends meet, or because they being forced to do so.

Researchers say, "When prostituted women are asked, consistently around 90% say they want out of prostitution immediately, but the decision is out of their hands and in the hands of their pimps, their husbands, their landlords, their addictions, their children"s bellies."

Despite this, and although it would be illogical to think of hypothetical situations in which a prostitute would try to escape prostitution, I believe that it is wrong for a prostitute to continue engaging sexually with 'clients' after having been diagnosed with a disease such as AIDS. AIDS is a terminal illness as it progressively weakens your immune system so that you are no longer able to fight off common sicknesses. Someone who had contracted AIDS from a prostitute would die because of the prostitutes' discretion.


Argument of Semantics

My opponent argues over semantics. I have shown that the AVERAGE prostitute has no choice in the matter. In the world of prostitution, the playboy mansion type would be considered the top 1% and be extremely privileged.

Type A is a victim, type B does not have AIDS.

Pardon me for pointing out the flaw in my opponent's opening argument, but the hypothetical situation of a prostitute that engages in sexual intercourse after knowing she has aids is EXTREMELY rare. This has moved this argument from the realm of reality, to a thought experiment.

The Ethical Situation

As pointed out previously, the recommendation of the Obama administration recommends the gentle treatment of the situation.[1]

Further. Quoting Wikipedia:
Typical responses to the problem [of STD transmission in prostitution] are:
banning prostitution completely
introducing a system of registration for prostitutes that mandates health checks and other public health measures
educating prostitutes and their clients to encourage the use of barrier contraception and greater interaction with health care
Some think that the first two measures are counter-productive. Banning prostitution tends to drive it underground, making safe sex promotion, treatment and monitoring more difficult. Registering prostitutes makes the state complicit in prostitution and does not address the health risks of unregistered prostitutes. Both of the last two measures can be viewed as harm reduction policies.[2]

My opponent's source from round 3 supports the Con position. "‘Women in prostitution should not be punished for their own exploitation. The seller of sex should be decriminalized."[3]

Every source cited in this debate supports the Con position.

The Legal Difficulties

Bring this out of the realm of the thought experiment, and into the real world, and the problems of prosecution become obvious.[4]

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé[5] said the following in a speech:
"My experience has taught me a few lessons which I want to share with you. First, criminalization is ineffective. Laws and prosecutions do not stop the spread of HIV. There is no correlation between the existence of these laws and the drop in HIV infections.
"Second, the measures are misguided. Criminalization places blame on one person instead of supporting shared responsibility for sexual health. These laws are not helping us to reach those at risk or to end stigma and discrimination. They are not helping us to build the kind of inclusive societies that we want to
build or to support greater human dignity.
"Third, criminalization places women at greater risk of victimization, including in the context of prosecuting them for transmitting HIV to their babies. I hate to think how these laws will be applied in a continent like Africa where there is little access to justice.
"Finally, many of these laws are poorly drafted."

Assuming a Thought Experiment

I take my opponent's thought experiment head on.

It takes six months for HIV to be in a person's system. Assuming a man gets tested every year, his first reaction is to call every woman he knows and warn them of their possible status. A man who frequents prostitutes would be more likely to have this dilemma, and is more likely to have had more sexual partners. Assume ten. Which one caused the problem? He would need to have all ten of them tested, which is illegal.

What if two of the ten had HIV? Would he prosecute both?

What if all ten had HIV? And all ten of the times he used a condom. Who is to blame at this point?

I can go on and on, and I shall.

If all ten have HIV, and all ten use protection, all ten are innocent. Of what has yet to be proven "attempted murder."

He thinks he didn't use a condom with Jane #4, but she swears they did. He forgot that he shared a drug needle with a friend during the same period, and his strain of HIV has nothing to do with his sexual activities.

The more we go down this rabbit trail, the more we lose sight of the FACT that the prostitute is a kidnapped child forced to give sex for her owner's money. Yes. She is a SLAVE.

Not Attempted Murder

"Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another person, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter)."[6]

We're talking apples and oranges here. Passing HIV should not be a crime, as outlined again and again. But if it is a crime, it is not attempted murder.

Vote Con.


Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by polka-dot 3 years ago
People, if I may interject. Attempted murder is a "specific intent" crime. This means for it to be "attempted murder" that (a) the prostitute must intend to transmit HIV, and (b) that willfully infecting someone with HIV means trying to kill them. In this hypothetical, neither premise is true. First, today, there is no reason to think +HIV status means imminent death. +HIV people can now live indefinitely with modern medicine. Certainly the affected party will experience severe consequences, possibly including premature death. But I don't agree that even intentional transmission of HIV means attempted murder (but should carry severe penalties).

But in the scenario at issue here is no evidence suggesting that the prostitute intends to infect the john. An analogous situation would be charging a heavily intoxicated driver with attempted murder for driving his car into a tree. Even if he had an unrestrained child in the car with him, he will not be charged with attempted murder. Perhaps unfairly, in the case of manslaughter, we punish the result rather than the action.

Incidentally, the example of the prostitute is not a good one. Sex with an HIV infected prostitute does not imply a high risk of infection w/ use of a condom. In this scenario, the male is willingly a co-participant in a criminal activity that could be extremely risky if protection is not used. If the male not only engages in the illegal activity but forgoes protection (meaning, if he does not know own his status, he risks infecting her), it is not fair to place the entire responsibility on the prostitute. I would charge the prostitute with an additional crime, but it would be far short of attempted murder.

A more interesting hypothetical would be a husband who knowingly infects his wife (either intentionally or unintentionally). In this case, the wife would be even more of a victim, and she would not be undertaking the same risk as the john. But that is another debate.
Posted by Nimbus328 3 years ago
I have shown that the greatest legal and political minds in the world support my position, and I have show why.
Posted by Daktoria 3 years ago
I considered your legal source's argument, but frankly, he came off as idiotic. The difficulty at hand only exists if people aren't screened regularly for STDs, and the idea of shared responsibility for health is totally retarded as if those who live responsibly ought to be forced to assume the risk of unreliability when taking part in the marketplace. He's basically supporting "buyer beware". Of all the things government is supposed to regulate against, this is one of its top priorities.
Posted by Nimbus328 3 years ago
My opponent tries her case in the court of public opinion. However, the argument should be tried in a court of LAW. This court would need to take into account EVERY ARGUMENT that I have made, and as a result the LEGAL consensus is that ALL of my background information for the LEGAL dispute makes the situation EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to IMPOSSIBLE to prosecute.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by MattHarrison 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: It's sad pro even started this debate.
Vote Placed by Daktoria 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con goes on one tangent after the next, even belittling Pro's argument as a "thought experiment" and "semantics". The bottomline is offer and acceptance is between the client and prostitute. Whether a pimp or external circumstances at hand exist is not the point. Aside from the questionability of prostitution in itself, Con doesn't explain why clients should be expected to assume the risk of infection or why prostitutes should be relieved from exercising duty of care.
Vote Placed by darris321 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: "Pardon me for pointing out the flaw in my opponent's opening argument, but the hypothetical situation of a prostitute that engages in sexual intercourse after knowing she has aids is EXTREMELY rare. This has moved this argument from the realm of reality, to a thought experiment." That is completely irrelevant. All debates are thought experiments. Just fess up to not following the rules that you agreed to when you took the debate. If the intro had stipulated that the prostitute was there voluntarily, would you have argued that that was a silly stipulation after you agreed, too?