Rego: The United States should legalize prostitution

Shay Rego

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of The Collegian or its editorial board.

Sex working is the most dangerous job in the country, even more so than logging or oil workers. Despite the general taboo associated with prostitution, legalizing it would benefit everyone more than expected. Other countries are already showing success in legalized prostitution and its contribution to their society.

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According to a recent study, death rates for prostitution in the U.S. is approximately 204 out of every 100,000 people per year. Prostitutes are also physically attacked at least once a month per worker. 

Legalizing prostitution could help save women from the many dangers associated with the practice. Sex working affects more females than society has been led to believe, with an estimated 1-2 million prostitutes in the U.S. alone,  which may even include the women we love so dearly like our mothers, sisters and daughters.

Statistically speaking, prostitution also largely affects our age group of college students, with most female prostitutes being of ages roughly 13 to 25. This emphasizes the risk to our community particularly.

Federal laws regarding prostitution and its punishments are extremely specific, focusing mainly on illegal aliens, coercion or military-related instances. Each state handles prostitution differently.

The current penalty for prostitution under Colorado state law is up to six months jail time and a fine up to $750 for the prostitute, charged with a class three misdemeanor, up to 18 months jail time and a fine up to $5,000 for the customer, charged with a class one misdemeanor. In most cases, it is usually just the prostitute and the customer who face punishment, not the pimp. 

Currently, the only state with any legal prostitution is Nevada. All other underground prostitution is run by a pimp,  who solicits customers to a prostitute for a portion of the sex workers earnings.

One benefit of legalizing prostitution is it would cut down on sexual assault and rates of sexually-transmitted diseases, as well as allow more women in the industry to be able to come forward about such incidences without fear of repercussion.

The Netherlands, a country with legalized prostitution, conducted a research study on the depleting sex crimes since its legalization. Researchers at UCLA and Baylor University did a similar study based out of Rhode Island also showed a significant decrease in sexual assault and related crime.

Another potential benefit of decriminalized prostitution is the decrease in human trafficking activity. Although human trafficking is difficult to accurately measure as it is an underground operation, some studies support this claim.

In a 2013 study done by New York University and Stanford University, researchers created an economic model which proved that criminalization results in more trafficking than decriminalization.

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Fort Collins has fallen victim to involvement in the human trafficking ring. Legalized prostitution could mean greater safety for those directly around.

Legalizing prostitution could help save our women…

Perhaps the largest benefit per state would be the extra influx of money created from legal prostitution’s tax revenue. Like marijuana, many thought legalizing wouldn’t end well but then the state started raking in millions off of taxes.

Based off of our countries current sole existing legal prostitution in Nevada, one legally licensed sex worker could contribute up to $20,000 in federal income taxes per year, however the state denied the tax revenue offered by the brothels. Other countries have also seen overgrowth with numbers in the millions in their economy directly from prostitution alone.

Decriminalizing prostitution would eradicate an entire population of people who get sent to jail, lowering overall arrest rates and diffusing some criminal activity related to the sex ring.

Creating a legalized system in which we can cut the pimp out of the picture would make the career a safer place for women. Not to mention it would be more empowering for women in the industry as it allows them legal control over their situation and security.

The societal benefits, as well as the individual benefits for women, greatly outweighs the negative impacts which criminalized prostitution currently brings onto these involved figures of prostitution.

Criminalizing prostitution does not eradicate it, so we may as well embrace it and turn it into a positive aspect everyone can benefit from.

Shay Rego can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter at @shay_rego.