|Photo Credit: coreyann on Flickr|
January 13, 2012
It's not enough for some lawmakers that for the better part of a century, selling and buying sex has been illegal in every state of the union. (The exception is the system of legalized brothels dotting a handful of low-population counties in Nevada, the existence of which has done little to deter an underground, illegal sex trade.) Each year, scores of new laws are proposed to make prostitution somehow even more illegal than it already is.
These laws against prostitution don't simply increase penalties for buying or selling sex; they extend to creating criminal consequences for every aspect of sex workers' lives. After just one prostitution arrest, a person can be denied a job, an apartment, or the right to parent her children. She could find herself followed by police just for leaving her home.
Though it's now fashionable for some anti-prostitution activists and lawmakers to position these laws as being of aid to prostitutes, there is absolutely no moral or legal basis for arresting and jailing a person “for her own good.” Yet this is what we have been told about sex workers: that the conditions of prostitution are so horrific that a jail cell is preferable. For sex workers who escape that cell, they still must face the consequences of their prostitution arrest, and in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Today's new anti-prostitution laws don't stop anyone from buying or selling sex – instead, they serve as tools for chipping away at people's rights through profiling and surveillance, a 21st-century continuation of the Scarlet Letter, establishing an entire underclass of people. READ MORE