Prostitution should be legalised to protect sex workers from HIV/AIDS
For decades, AIDS has afflicted and killed millions of people worldwide. In 2007, it was estimated that 33 million people had the disease and 2 million died from it. Fortunately in the last 10-15 years there have been great developments in the treatment and prevention of AIDS, mainly through the development of new drugs and promotion of contraception and safe sex methods in world. However, one group of people who do not receive any protection are sex workers in countries where what they are doing is illegal. There is no regulation or enforcement of safe practices in the sex industry. We propose that all nations with AIDS concerns legalise the sex industry and introduce regulations to make sure that sex workers use safe practices, provide a registration system for sex workers and provide condoms for registered establishments, we further propose that these states look at ways to reduce the social stigma around this work as a way to battle the spread of HIV/AIDS.--------------------------------------------------------------------Opposition Introduction----------------------------------------------------------As indicated by the motion, the crux of the debate is under which legal paradigm are sex workers best protected from HIV infection. Opposition wants the continued prohibition of prostitution and in addition educational campaigns to eradicate misconceptions about the disease that render society vulnerable. Prop on the other hand wants to legalize prostitution as a way of protecting them from HIV. As we pointed out in our first refutation, there is no correlation between the legal status of prostitution and the HIV prevalence in a country as we have states like Russia where it is illegal and you have less than 1% prevalence and others where it is legal eg Mozambique but they have 16% prevalence. What makes the difference is the level of a societies education about the nature of HIV, how it is spread and how to protect oneself.
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Prohibition Doesn't Work.
Banning prostitution doesn’t stop people from wanting sex, and plenty of people are still willing to pay for it. This means that there is significant demand for prostitutes, even in places where AIDS is prevalent. In fact, people with HIV and AIDS and Africa are less likely to be able to have sex in a regular setting, so are more likely to turn to prostitutes. In addition, countries with high rates of AIDS and HIV are most often poor countries with high unemployment and very low GDP [[http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/28/069.html]], meaning there are a lot of women in desperate situations who need money, usually so desperate that obeying the law (especially in places where law enforcement is often corrupt and under-funded) doesn’t matter very much compared to making a living. These two factors mean that prostitution is going to happen whether it is nominally illegal or not. Evidence of this can be seen in the estimated 40,000 prostitutes who entered South Africa for the Soccer World Cup [[http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2010/0512/Prostitutes-flock-to-South-Africa-ahead-of-World-Cup-2010]].
All prohibition actually does is prevent any effective regulation. If prostitution is legalised, Governments can impose regulations such as compulsory use of condoms (which could also be provided by Government), regular blood testing to see if prostitutes have HIV, and general enforcement of safe sex practices. If prostitution is illegal, then there must be a denial of the existence of any brothels or prostitutes, as if they exist and are illegal it becomes the Government's responsibility to get rid of them rather than ensure they are being safe.
Having these sorts of regulations also creates a type of self-regulation. The brothels and prostitutes that are being safe will have a direct incentive to report ones that aren't, as this removes competition and will help build their reputation as a safe option. If prostitution is illegal, then no-one will report anything.
It is contradictory for prop to say on one hand, "especially in places where law enforcement is often corrupt and under-funded" and simultaneously say that all the regulations they are putting in place will indeed work. If it is true you cannot stop people from being prostitutes now, whatever their HIV status, how will you stop those that refuse to comply with your regulations. If they are as poor and desperate as they say even the ones with HIV will continue to want to work.
Prop correctly points out that, "countries with high rates of AIDS and HIV are most often poor countries with high unemployment and very low GDP." The reason that they have such high rates of infection is not that some how banning prostitution leads to higher HIV rates. If this where true, then all countries which ban prostitution eg Sweden, Russia) should have significantly higher prevalence rates than those who do as they propose eg. Côte d'Ivoire & Senegal. This is not the case. What causes such high rates of infection is ignorance or mis-education about HIV and the way it is transmitted. This is more pervasive in countries with poor education systems & high levels of illiteracy. Many people believe ridiculous things about HIV. Like the belief that the withdrawal method is effective in preventing HIV infection. Education is the only way to solve this, not legitimizing a a crime which brutalizes women.
It is logical to believe that the instinct of self preservation (the one that drove her to prostitution over starving in the first place) will lead to prostitutes using condoms. Many currently do. Those who do not are ignorant of the dangers and how to protect themselves. This is what needs to change.
Everyone has AIDS. AIDS, AIDS, AIDS.
As we’ve mentioned in our previous point, prostitution will take place whether it is legal or not. We believe prostitution should be legal. By regulating brothels and the conditions for prostitution through regular health checks, condoms et cetera, we can make sure prostitutes are safe from HIV.
In places where prostitution is illegal, it is merely driven underground; controlled by cartels and gangs. In this situation prostitutes live under no rights[[http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/3/515.full]] Moreover they tend to be associated with drugs, they are hooked by dealers who force them into prostitution to fund thri habit, through multiple sexual partners and needle sharing there is significant risks of HIV.[[http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_4_35/ai_53390350/]].
If a sex worker contracts AIDS, a man or woman client using them will be at risk of contracting the virus, they then run the risk of not knowing that they have it, infecting other sexual partners and the cycle continues. Also let us not forget future children who contract the disease while in the uterus.
So it is in countries where prostitution is illegal where we can’t keep sex workers safe from AIDS. In these countries prostitutes aren’t even allowed to be prostitutes. They tend to enter the profession because they have no other way of earning money or they may be forced to do it.
On the other hand, if prostitution is legal and regulations are put in place, sex workers will be safer from STI’s and HIV/AIDS. Regular health checks will pick up any possible infections and there will be laws to protect the well-being of sex workers. What’s more, these laws will not only protect sex workers, but their clients too. Making prostitution legal will improve the work conditions of people who have to go into prostitution for one reason or another and will protect society from a further spreading of HIV/AIDS. This is a signifcant benefit to greater society and individual workers and cl
Prop seem to believe that they have just invented "high class escorts", which is essentially what their proposal seeks to do. In every country in the world one can always access disease free prostitutes who conduct their business in a safe environment, and who are not abused by their employers. You just have to pay a lot for these prostitutes, the same as props mechanism, if a brothel is gang run and does not wish to comply to props expensive requirements, then they will employ the HIV+ prostitutes who are not protected by props model. The people in status quo who visit the types of brothels prop is targeting, will not be able to afford the disease free prostitutes (otherwise they would do so in status quo) so they will still go to the HIV+ prostitutes. And there will probably be more prostitutes in the community because prop has declared the business legitimate, so poor women who were deterred from prostitution by the law now consider it an option, and seeing as these are countries where law enforcement is poor, this means more women being exposed to STD's. Why? Well, let's consider that South Africa has the largest antiretroviral therapy programme in the world (1), the government distributes free condoms at public toilets and clinics/hospitals across the nation. Yet there is still a problem with people having unprotected sex, even with prostitutes, the reason is not a lack of condoms, it's a reluctance to use them. Hence, prop does not fix the problem, but rather exacerbates it, under status quo cultural programming makes people feel as if sex with a condom is unnatural, so people will pay more to have intercourse without a condom. If this is already happening under status quo, it will only worsen once you create more prostitutes with your endorsement of prostitution, and they will still have sex without condoms because they are still as desperate for money, particularly those who are already HIV+.
Changing Social Stigma and flow on benefits.
The social stigma towards AIDS means noone wants it, indeed Ban Ki Moon suggests that stigma is the reason sex workers are reluctant to go and seek treatment [[http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-stigma.htm]]
This negative stigma needs to change to battle AIDS in the sex industry. Strategies like in Brazil and Kenya introduced campaigns to reduce stigma and help sex workers feel good about their jobs to and to take care of their sexual health, leading to positive benefits for AIDS checks and condom use; Thailand’s 100% condom strategy led to a sharp decrease in HIV cases within the industry. [[http://www.avert.org/sex-workers.htm]]
Our model is similar and will benefit all stakeholders
There are many benefits to why we should adopt our policy and how changing the social stigma of AIDS will effectively remove it from the legalised sex-industry.
Identifying AIDS victims early, through compulsory testing, this means quick reaction to the diagnoses, offering treatment options swiftly and having the worker removed from the position which would lead to the infection of more people.
A Business is not going to want to hire a worker who will contract HIV to their customers, this is just bad business. A business needs to compete in a market and they need to supply a service of high quality. This doesn’t work if your company is branded as selling unsafe products which kill customers.
They get the benefit of paying for a service which they want and are ready to pay for. With a much lower chance of contracting a nasty STD and get all the pleasure they can pay for.
Sex-Workers: Not having AIDS, being able to be getting treatment swiftly and not feeling the social pressure to not reveal profession to public.
Many Benefits, no harms, tried tested and successful, this policy is beneficial to all stakeholders.
Again prop contradicts themselves. They say that there is a very strong social stigma against HIV & HIV patients (which we agree happens, and in many cases sufferers are rejected by their families and have to fend for themselves). This stigma leads to the prostitutes not wanting to be tested and seek treatment in SQ (status quo) in fear that their status will become public. Then they turn around and tell us that these same prostitutes in these stigmatic societies will accept govt mandated health checks? Many prostitutes will not accept this and continue to operate underground.
To add insult to their self inflicted injury they cite the example of Kenya where they say, "Kenya introduced campaigns to reduce stigma and help sex workers feel good about their jobs to and to take care of their sexual health, leading to positive benefits for AIDS checks and condom use." They neglect that prostitution is totally illegal in Kenya and this "campaign" did not even attempt to legalize it but rather to change societal misconceptions about HIV which is our counter model and they agree has been effective in helping solve the problem cited in the motion.
Prostitutes will be safer under legalisation
As we have shown, prostitution will always exist whether it is legal or not. Therefore, we need to look at whether prostitutes will be safer with legalisation. They most definitely will be.
It is important that prostitutes and safe and free from harm. There are many reasons why women go into prostitution. Often it is due to financial desperation and/or children commitments. These women are in a very vulnerable position and it is very important that we ensure they are as safe and healthy as can be. Prostitutes are subject to gangs, violence, drugs and rape. Prostitutes are often forced to take drugs by the gangs who employ (or own) them so as to make them addicted. This means they have no way to escape.[[http://www.un.org/rights/dpi1772e.htm]] There is also no regulation, which means prostitutes are subject to unprotected sex and rape from countless people, which means they invariably become infected with AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases[[http://www.caps.ucsf.edu/pubs/FS/revsexworkers.php]].
When the market is legalised, it is no longer controlled by gangs. This is because legal businesses operate the industry instead. This is better for prostitutes as they no longer suffer the horrific abuses that they face under a system of illegal prostitution. This is because legal businesses face regulation. They are required by law to ensure that contraception is used by their employees. They are also required to ensure that their employees are healthy by directing them to appropriate medical treatment when it is necessary.
When legal its easier to monitor. This is because the government knows how many prostitutes there are, where they are located, and what issues are affecting the industry. This is beneficial as the government can better plan appropriate health and social policies.
Prostitutes are legitimate stakeholders that need protection. Under our model, we better protect prostitutes. They are safer, they are healthier, and they are happier
We agree with prop that women often turn to prostitution due to financial desperation and/or children commitments. These incentives will still exist even if they are caught to be infected and banned from practicing. As is the case now, they will have no choice but to break the law and continue prostituting. Because the "legitimate" brothels will be subject to regulation and taxes - which means significantly higher costs - illicit brothels can under price then in order to compete. This will be very effective in countries with low incomes. A parallel example is how tobacco tax spurs and illicit market for duty free cigarettes. This puts pressure on non-infected prostitutes to relieve themselves of the burden of regulation and go underground so they can continue making money.
Effectively regulation is a partial ban and will always result in an illicit market. Example: prescription drugs are legal and regulated (need for prescription) yet we still have an illicit market for prescription pain killers. The black market and it's harms are not mutually exclusive to either side in this debate unless prop wants absolute legalization with zero restrictions.
The Market solves all:
Simple concept, allowing competition fixes the gang/abuse problem for two reasons. One, there are Government regulations, they have to be above board, if they are then even if gang’s are running brothels they are doing nothing illegal. Two, there will be competition, a brothel will want to sell a quality service, generally meaning drug/bruise and AIDS free, these are all things good.
Basically with the legal market sex workers will need to compete within the rules set by the Government, this means that they will need to be STD free, there will be protection of their rights as people, the prices won’t be exorbitant because of competition, the price can only be as high a a consumer is willing to pay so the businesses can reach maximum profit, again this demand will be increased by lack of Government sanctions against the business for being abusive. They will not employ people with AIDS or keep them working because this is not good for customers.
The social stigma of AIDS means no one wants it so no one will sell it.[[http://www.mcwdn.org/ECONOMICS/SupDemand.html]] Businesses, because of this stigma are also likely to develop their own restrictions on workers, they are going to want AIDS in their industry less than the Government because of the profit they will lose.
Businesses will dob in unregistered workers because they are not going to want people having some of their market share.
The demand for sex workers is great, this is undisputed. Therefore because AIDS is a problem it better that the Govt can regulate and watch its transgression rather than ignore it. It us better to set the private sector against the virus because frankly it is currently out of control and if people are going to loose profit over it this is sadly a greater incentive to get rid of it.[[http://www.pearson.ch/HigherEducation/Journalism/1471/9781405835367/Journalism-Ethics-and-Regulation.aspx]]
Prop is ignoring that there is a demand for having sex without condoms due to ignorance about the dangers. If they prohibit this a black market for it will develop and all the harms they point out for us apply to them. Secondly, they premise this argument on the claim that the government has the capacity to enforce all these new regulations. If the government does have such power then our paradigm of prohibition will work. What they have failed to address is what would happen is their regulations did not work. Their entire case is based on a best case scenario of perfect regulation which is unlikely in these poor nations. Also these regulations (like having condoms regular testing) are in the best interests of the prostitutes and brothels even with prohibition. They have not yet engaged with the idea that demand for unsafe sex will still exist.
Legalisation Can Be A Part of a Wider Education Program
The problem with the opposition proposal is that it is not mutually exclusive to legalising prostitution. It is perfectly possible for a Government to provide an education program and legalise prostitution at the same time, in fact that is what is done in places like New Zealand where prostitution is legal and we provide sex education in schools.
In fact, legalising prostitution actually helps a wider education program. If the opp wants people to be properly educated about AIDS, then they should not want to exclude and stigmatise sex workers. If you continue to ban prostitution, then it actually entrenches the idea that prostitutes are somehow lesser people whose welfare we shouldn't care about when it comes to HIV. As it is, countries that ban prostitution make no effort to protect prostitutes at all.
To have a free and open discussion, it is necessary to allow a free discussion about prostitution, which can only happen if it is legal. If it is not, it is much more difficult to acquire information about prostitutes and about the conditions in which they work, because they are less willing to come forward and admit to what they are doing.
The opp has conceded that there is a problem of people having unsafe sex with prostitutes, and yet it seems like the only group of people they want to exclude from their education program are the prostitutes themselves. If we can identify who the prostitutes are, then we can educate them. If prostitution is illegal and forced underground, we can't provide them with info. In addition, we can't provide information with people who use prostitutes, both because they won't admit to committing an illegal act and because banning prostitution increases the stigma on these people. The prop has missed the point entirely when they say we will be unable to enforce regulation, because it will be in the interests of the prostitutes and brothels to abide by regulations and report those who don't.
At the beginning of this debate we showed that prostitution (and demand for unsafe sex) will still exist whether it is illegal or not, the question is whether or not making it legal will allow for better protection of prostitutes and better help to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. The opp has never disputed that there will be prostitution either way, so it was up to them to show harms of legalising prostitution, which they never did.
3 questions: 1) What best allows for the Government to protect people and regulate? 2) Will regulations be effective? 3) Are there any real harms to legalising prostitution?
On the first point, we showed you that if prostitution is illegal it is an underground affair, unsafe and controlled by gangs. It creates a stigma around the desperate women in prostitution, causing people to care about them even less, and stops anyone involved in the industry seeking any protection or help. The opp tried to say that we were contradicting ourselves, missing the point entirely: the way to lift the stigma is to legalise, then prostitutes will come forward. Stigma around prostitution doesn't just exist inherently, it is promoted by banning it. The opp tried to propose a counter-model providing education about HIV, however this model is not mutually exclusive and as we showed you, will actually work better if prostitution is legalised. It is contradictory to not allow education for prostitutes.
On the second point, the opposition tried to say that illegal, unsafe and unregistered prostitution would still exist. We had three responses: 1) Because it is in the interests of legal prostitutes and brothels to report illegal practice, the industry will self-regulate. 2) It is actually no more expensive to provide the legal services, because most of the expenses will fall on the Government, which is providing the condoms etc. 3) Even if some illegal practice still exists, if there is any increase in safe practice and the use of safe methods, then that is a good thing.
Finally, the opp tried to say an increase in prostitution would be bad. Firstly we told you that as long as the prostitution involves safe methods, that would be fine, and then that essentially means that the other team thinks people having sex is a bad thing. It is not a bad thing if people are having more sex with prostitutes, if it is safe. They then tried to say we would be placing more people in danger. They never showed how this would happen under our model, which insists upon safe practices. We are certainly not forcing any women into prostitution, who are not currently doing it. The opp's final point was to say that we would be sending a message that this is a legitimate way to make a living. Unfortunately they seemed to have missed posting some of the point, but basically we do think that prostitution is a legitimate way to make a living. It is the poor treatment and health risks that prostitutes face that is illegitimate. Our model helps with this.
Proposal will exacerbate the HIV problem
Despite the prohibition of prostitution many people still end up being sex workers. However, many more are deterred by the penalties imposed by the government as a result of its illegality. As a result of the proposal, many people would enter into the sex industry. Also many more people would start using sex workers. This larger pool of sex workers and consumers will make the spread of HIV & other STDs more likely.
Secondly, legalization makes detection of illegal sex workers harder. These gangs that prop says currently run prostitution can have a few legal workers in order to window dress their business with legitimacy while having other illegal workers. The incentive for this is that regulations on the legal workers make them less profitable but also offers an opportunity for them to cloak themselves with legitimacy. Hence, brothels can avoid the penalties under status quo, and at same time provide unregulated/unsafe services to the less informed members of society. As it is these countries are facing difficulties in terms of regulations. Not directly engaging with the lack sex education will incentivize brothels to continue running legally with unsafe sex workers as there is a demand for such services. The financial incentive of having unregulated or partially regulated brothels only makes it worse.
The only NEW workers in the industry under our model will be safe ones, because our model only allows regulated workers. Even if all the old workers remained unsafe, these new workers would attract some people to use them, meaning more safe and less unsafe sex, so this point actually falls to our side.
Opp admits that prohibition does not work, this reinforces why it should be legal, to keep track of these sex workers. Saying that the Govt has a harder job detecting legal sex workers is ridiculous, it is much harder to find ones who are undeclared and hidden. It is silly to suppose a gang would provide underground brothels, which would be much harder to run and much more expensive when there is a legal profitable option, considering most of the expenses such as condoms will be paid for by the Government. If the Government is providing free health checks, condoms and education programs then why wouldn't a business accept them? It is a benefit with no cost.
Stating that brothels can avoid penalties under the status quo just reinforces how fruitless it is to ban the sex industry.
The Opp has failed to address the reasoning we put forward over how competition would mean that there is a business and Government agenda to keep AIDS carriers out of the industry, businesses are incentivised to dob in unregistered sex workers to the Government to be tested.
They have not addressed the rights of the sex-worker, how they are not the problem and need support, if as the OPP suggests there is going to be this large black market under the status quo.
We proposed that because prohibition does not work, because their is no support for the worker and because their is an AIDS problem in the industry that we should fix this under our model. Our benefits have not been attacked, they have been ignored, this does not make them go away. There are clear benefits to the worker/government and consumer there are no harms except for under the status quo as the opp states there are.
Costs of the proposal outweigh the benefits
Prop says that once prostitution operates in a legal framework there will be recourse for sex workers who are abused. This may be true but we have to remember that assuming the stringent regulations they say they will impose will work, an illicit market will still exist. More importantly though this recourse comes at the cost of having more people being exposed to the dangers of prostitution to begin with. Because the govt would have removed deterrence to prostitution many people would now view it as a viable option. The higher probability of making reports comes at the cost of having more people in danger in the first place. It is wrong for the govt to take actions that intentionally place people in danger.
Making a job legal and telling people not to give other people AIDS is hardly a 'stringent criteria’. Through this debate the Opp has agreed with us on several points we made. They agreed that there was high demand for prostitutes which currently make a black market; we showed how this would be beneficial when legalised. They agreed that sex workers are a cause of the spread of AIDS, they agreed that abuse was a problem, we showed how under our model these harms would deminish. They have agreed that using condoms and practising safe sex is for the best, under our model this would become the new status quo. They even agreed that there wil be recourse for abused workers. We have proposed a model which makes a better life for sex-workers, customers and society as a whole.
The Opp asserts that the costs will outweigh the benefits. What costs are they specifically targeting? Their entire case started by saying we needed more education, we proved this as not mutually exclusive and showed how education would be a flow on effect of our model.
The Opp then attacked our model on the harms it will cause, the only harms being stated by the Opp are that more people will become sex workers and this increases the danger.
These harms ignore our substantive arguments on how our model wants to see sex workers accepted, we see this as a legitimate job and business, we explained how our model would increase the safety of the workers by making their job stigma free and encouraging quality service through legislation and competition, this hasn’t been addressed. We also discussed how the customers would be safe, because they would be paying for such a quality (and AIDS free) service. Workers with AIDS would be able to be found and treated by the Government as businesses would feel obliged to dob them in.
The Opp has failed to show any harms at all, clearly this does not outweigh the benefits.
Detrimental to womens rights
When the govt legalizes prostitution and is actively involved in it's operation through regulation. It sends the message that this is a legitimate way to earn a living. This combined with the poverty in these countries can lead to many poor families pressuring (which is harder to detect and not really illegal than
Why isn’t prostitution a legitimate way to earn a living? It is one of the oldest and most widespread professions in the world. People do practise this en mass voluntarily, under our model it would simply allow current workers to do this without the social stigma meaning that gangs who do run the show and the social and legal pressure which means sex workers do not to go and get checkups on their sexual health because of the social and legislative deterrent would disappear.
I can only assume from this point’s title that the Opp is attempting to label prostitution as a strike against women.
Well how is it that prostitution breaks women’s rights but when a Government takes a moral high ground and refuses to give aid and support to a woman who works as a prostitute who has a severe risk of contracting a deadly virus and is likely to undergo significant abuse in an underground black market run by criminals is not anti-women?
How is it that our model is detrimental to women’s rights when what we propose is to allow sex workers to be liberated from Governmental and societal discrimination?
Under the status quo where prostitution is illegal there is no support, women find themselves trapped in a cycle where they need to do this job to earn a living while at the same time cannot complain if they are taken advantage of by gangs, cartels or even their customers because to do so would be admitting to being guilty of a crime.
This is not pro women, this is not moral or right, we propose that this is a status quo which cannot be allowed to continue abusing the women who practise the profession of sex.
The first basic claim made by prop was that the prostitution industry is only abusive because of its illegality; the abuses highlighted were drugs, assault, and STIs. But in order to demonstrate that their proposal is effective, they would need to show that there would be no more people desperate enough to subject themselves to atrocious conditions, there would be no more demand for these prostitutes, or that this new law enforcement would somehow be more effective than current law enforcement which they spent their entire first argument discrediting. But prop failed to do that, all they did was give a list of requirements legal brothels must abide by with no explanation as to how they would enforce them. Their self-regulation model does not work either because if these brothels are gang run as prop asserts, then they also told us that these gangs are involved in other illegal businesses as well, so even if one gang knew of another that wasn’t following the regulations, they would not report for fear of being reported as well for something else they did was illegal. So if regulation cannot work, then are prop reducing the drugs violence and STIs at least? NO! The assumption made on STIs was that prostitutes either do not have access to or are ignorant about facilities that could help them preserve their health. On ignorance we explained how THAT is the major problem, and that status quo is dealing with it, Prop needed to show how they are going to educate people better than now which they failed to do. As for the accessibility, we explained how South Africa (which seemed to be their prominent example) is extremely advanced in dealing with HIV; they have education programs, free ARVs, free condom dispensers at convenient locations, so obviously if a prostitute wanted a condom they could get one. If they need to get tested (which the government already encourages) they can do so for free, so seeing as they cannot enforce their regulations and all the precautions they are taking already exist in status quo, it is clear that the proposal will have none of its alleged benefits.
What do you think?