Le­gal­ize the sex trade?

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

Some people ar­gue that China should le­gal­ize the sex trade since it is im­pos­si­ble to erad­i­cate it and this could also help pre­vent the spread of HIV and other sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases, but such ar­gu­ments un­der­es­ti­mate the ef­fects le­gal­iz­ing pros­ti­tu­tion will have on so­ci­ety, says an ar­ti­cle on Xin­huanet. Ex­cerpts:

When pros­ti­tu­tion is crim­i­nal­ized, there will be nag­ging wor­ries among sex work­ers, pimps and the cus­tomers and any­one in­volved in the busi­ness about get­ting caught and be­ing pun­ished. The le­gal and moral con­se­quences, there­fore, help res­train such ac­tiv­i­ties.

How­ever, if pros­ti­tu­tion was to be le­gal­ized, those in­volved would no longer have to worry about be­ing brought to jus­tice. Nor would they have to worry about their work be­ing sub­ject to a moral back­lash, as the pub­lic’s at­ti­tude to­ward sex work would un­dergo fun­da­men­tal changes with the le­gal­iza­tion of pros­ti­tu­tion, no mat­ter how slowly.

Un­der such cir­cum­stances, the sex trade would grow. Some ar­gue that le­gal­iz­ing pros­ti­tu­tion will lead to pro­tected sex, but there is no guar­an­tee. In­stead, a grow­ing num­ber of sex work­ers may in­crease the risk of un­pro­tected sex. This is un­der­stand­able, since when pros­ti­tu­tion is crim­i­nal­ized, sex work­ers and their clients are wor­ried that un­pro­tected sex will re­sult in harsher pun­ish­ment. While in the con­text of le­gal­ized pros­ti­tu­tion, some of them will prob­a­bly give in to their per­sonal pref­er­ence and en­gage in un­pro­tected sex. Worse, the walls of so­cial ethics will tum­ble down along with le­gal­ized sex trade, which will cause a moral cri­sis and also fuel the trans­mis­sion of HIV and STDs.

The preven­tion of HIV and STDs and the crack­down on the sex trade are two daunt­ing tasks that should be car­ried for­ward si­mul­ta­ne­ously. It is sim­ply un­wise to fa­cil­i­tate one while com­pro­mis­ing the other.

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