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PVS Final Presentation

Would legalizing prostitution alleviate poverty in America?

Morgan Morris

on 22 April 2010

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Transcript of PVS Final Presentation

why would someone turn to sex work?
the argument for legalization the argument against

Main motivation for most women: money
Tight job market (especially for potential sex workers, most of whom are poor and uneducated)
Community context that legitimizes the decision to turn to sex work
Perceptions that the job offers flexibility and autonomy

Could legalizing sex work be the solution to poverty for urban women in America? pure economics Urban streetwalkers usually command $15-$30 for 30 minutes
If they were not in the sex industry, most sex workers would most likely be working for minimum wage or $7.25 an hour
For sex workers on welfare, they can keep their full check

Other motivations
Feelings of self-worth: fulfillment can arise because a sex worker is developing a close relationship with a client and feels good about the service she offers that client "Bad for the Body" Violence and coercion are real threats
Health problems plague sex workers
Death rate for women in prostitution is 40 times higher than that of women in the general population
Because of the homelessness or chaotic lifestyles of many street based sex workers, they are unlikely to be registered with health services and their treatment tends to be more sporadic "Bad for the Heart" Sexual dysfunction: feelings are disconnected from sexual acts, which could make non-professional relationships difficult to maintain
Low self-esteem: some sex workers feel they have nothing else to offer but sex
Powerlessness: while some sex workers may retain feelings of control, others, especially those who work under pimps, feel they exercise little control over their bodies and actions

The Reality of the Sex Industry Pimps can take as much as 60% of a prostitute's pay
The violence and patterns of rape and assault within the sex industry contributes to low feelings of self-efficacy
Entrance into the sex industry provides closer proximity to the realm of drugs
Job offers little chance for upward advancement and few transferable skills
Prostitution is a crime that can lead to jail time

Legalization or decriminalization involves the removal of all or some of the laws relating to prostitution
Criminalization of prostitution hinders a woman's right to work
Claims that legalization will allow for the location of prostitution away from residential areas
Establishment of brothels will reduce the level of street prostitution and will provide greater protection for the women involved from violence and coercive pimps
Licensed brothels can provide regular health checks for women and thereby reduce the level of STDs and sex workers would have better access to medical and pyschological treatment
State-licensed establishments will reduce involvement of organized crime in the sex trade
If legalized, states could collect revenue through taxation

Morally questionable
Would legalization actually reduce violence?
Would legalization reduce street prostitution, as working in brothels requires commitment and routinization that sex workers are often unable or unwilling to offer?
Research has shown that the legalization of prostitution does not diminish the stigma associated with it
Legalization often includes a "zoning" of street prositution--separating sex workers from society to limit their physical and moral contamination hinders empowerment
Required health checks reinforce identity as a prostitute
Legalization can trap women in the sex industry
Case Studies: Australia &
the Netherlands

Evidence has shown that legalization has brought an increase in certain forms of violence
Even if legal brothels do promote safer conditions, the age span of women involved in such establishments tends to be limited so when women become too old or suffer from health, mental, or drug problems, it is likely the are discarded to the streets
Legalization has brought a doubling in the number of brothels
Growth in the number of illegal brothels, as pimps and madams prefer to run illegal brothels to evade taxation
Ready availability of brothels has encouraged widespread trafficking (mostly in the form of debt bondage)

So could the legalization of sex work
alleviate poverty in urban America?
legalizing sex work
Research shows that there is more money in illegal prostitution than its legal counterpart
However, legal sex workers take home more money than their illegal counterparts, but not a significant amount more, since they are subject to taxation and a loss of welfare benefits
If violence and drugs are still present, while earning more money may be easier, would achieving a better life still elude the impoverished urban women of America?
Without transferable skills, education, and self-efficacy, would women ever be able to exit prostiution and if so, where else could they do?
1. Motivations for Sex Workers
2. Reality of work in sex industry
3. Arguments in favor of legalization
4. Arguments in opposition of legalization
5. Examples from Australia and the Netherlands, where sex work has been legalized
6. Could the legalization of sex work alleviate poverty?
Full transcript