Think Again: Prostitution

Jan 30, 2014
Legal
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Why zero tolerance makes for bad policy on world’s oldest profession

“Prostitution Is Bad.”

DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN AND WHOM YOU ASK.

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Prostitution may be the world’s oldest profession, but there is still little agreement on the social and moral legitimacy of commercial sex. There are, of course, those who consider sex sacred and its sale a sin, and there are libertarians who are willing to accept nearly any degree of sexual freedom. But plenty of people have views that lie somewhere in between, and they are fighting over the fairness, regulation, and even the precise definition of what advocates and practitioners increasingly refer to as “sex work.”

Take France, for instance, where a debate erupted last fall over a proposed law that would fine people $2,000 for purchasing sex. All sorts of protesters took to the streets: women arguing that the law was necessary because violence and coercion are endemic to the sex industry, and sex workers, hoisting posters with slogans like “La repression n’est pas la prevention,” who condemned the law. A group of men also insisted in a letter that the government take its hands “off our whores.” Ultimately, on Dec. 4, the lower house of Parliament adopted the measure.

More of ForeignPolicy.com’s take on the sex work debate

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