Dr. West



Prostitution -


Decriminalizing Prostitution


Although the recent proposition K vote in San Francisco to decriminalize prostitution was defeated, the vote was closer than predicted.

While we feel that the idea of prostitution as a criminal offence causes more problems for a society than it solves, decriminalizing it for a single major city would undoubtedly result in major problems for that city. 

Among other things, it would have probably made San Francisco a bit of a national magnet for prostitutes and pimps. 

Probably a realistic solution would be to ease restrictions in cities while vigorously enforcing laws related to exploitation and victimization.

Frederick (Fog) Horn's original article on this subject is now "out of print"; however, since it originally elicited major response from readers, we've asked for permission to reproduce it.

"Fog" originally used the word "legalize" in the article, but after some feedback (see footnote) this was changed to "decriminalize."


The World's

Oldest Profession

I clearly stirred up some unreceptive feelings with the column, Prostitutes Nominated for Honesty Award.

For those who pointed out that prostitution causes crime, I would like to submit that most of the criminal activity surrounding prostitution is the direct result of...

...forcing it into the underworld of illegal activities...

...right along side of those unsavory types who inhabit that world.

Countries where prostitution is completely legal don't have the crime problems associated it with that we do.

Yet, in the United States prostitution is a real problem.

But there's a real solution.

Legalize it.*

It already is in many parts of the world.

Even in at least one Nevada county in the good ol' U-S-of-A.

If prostitution were legal we could

  • reduce or eliminate the rampant victimization of prostitutes by pimps, johns, and the whole unsavory raft of criminal elements commonly associated with it
  • control disease by requiring regular checkups and health certificates
  • get many prostitutes off the street and into a controlled environment
  • put more of our limited law enforcement resources into fighting major crimes
  • take away the impetus to get young women (and men) hooked on drugs in order to turn them into prostitutes (and profit)
  • eliminate a significant source of income for organized crime, and
  • put this multi-million dollar business on the tax rolls.

Right now, instead of deriving income from prostitution, we are spending large sums of money trying to wipe out "an evil" which....

...has largely been created....

...in a muddled effort to legislate morality.

By legalizing prostitution, we would not be condoning it.

Strangely, this is exactly the same conclusion the Catholic Church came to many years ago...

...before the anti-sex factions imposed their views on Christianity.**

With some of the tax revenue generated by legalizing prostitution we could also do a little educating...

...inform some people that prostitution isn't exactly the way it is in Pretty Woman.

But, legalizing prostitution hasn't a chance in hell.

It makes too much sense.

And it would be politically unpopular.

And politicians depend too much on inflating issues like this to get elected.

Interesting how we keep coming back to politics.

*I have been informed that as a first step many would prefer prostitution decriminalized instead of legalized.

I'll admit I didn't see a difference when I first wrote this. But, according to at least two organizations of "working women," if prostitution is just legalized, it will allow the government to impose all manner of unrealistic controls, which means that the new laws will also be largely ignored.

Decriminalizing it would make it no different (and probably a lot safer than) than legal sports such as boxing, demolition derbies, and ice hockey.

However, there is difference of opinion on this. Note legal distinctions below.

Legalization vs. decriminalization

Legalization makes an act acceptable in the eyes of the law and by being legal is not in itself subject to any penalties.

Decriminalization means that an act is no longer regarded as a crime but can be subject to penalties or fines, much like getting a speeding ticket.

** At one time the Catholic Church and two of its most prominent leaders felt that prostitution, although not desirable, was necessary for society.

NOTE: A recommended and revealing, book on prostitution is Brothel by Alexa Albert, a graduate of Harvard Medical School.

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