Sunday, October 16, 2005

Should We Legalize Prostitution?

Linda Slobodian of the Calgary Herald wrote a fantastic article on Sunday called "Taking Prostitutes off the Streets." It describes the current debate in Canada's Parliament over whether or not to legalize or decriminalize prostitution. In earlier posts, I have advocated legalizing the sex trade industry but there were certain things that I was not taking into account that Slobodian pointed out.

Firstly, other countries such as Australia, Holland and New Zealand have legalized their red light districts, but instead of making the occupation safer for women, the result was that organized crime took over. In addition, many of the brothels took a large part of the salaries of the workers.

Secondly, former policeman Ross McInnis asked what would happen to prostitutes who were underage, addicted to drugs or who had STDs. Would their work be decriminalized? Of course not. Consequently, we would continue to have a black market composed of the youngest and most vulnerable members of the sex trade while those who do massage or work at escort services are protected.

New Democratic Party MP Libby Davie believes that sex trade workers should have the right to work out of their homes. But reports from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women in Australia suggest that legalization would further exploit women and encourage the sale and slavery of children.

This issue is nowhere near as simple or straightforward as I had once imagined. I can understand arguments on both sides of the debate. It will be interesting to see how Parliament resolves the dilemma. Many thanks to Slobodian for her extensive research and thought-provoking article.

Sigrid Mac

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