“Prostitution violates the right to physical and moral integrity by the alienation of women’s sexuality that is appropriated, debased and reduced to a commodity to be bought and sold.”- Cecilia Hoffman, Secretary of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
When making a case for legalizing prostitution, many turn to the economical defense: We are in debt, and we may as well tax a profession that is huge and not currently getting taxed. Although this may be true, governments and the people must consider all possible effects and legality issues when legalizing anything, especially prostitution. Although, yes, we are in debt trillions of dollars, we must also weigh the cost of other significant factors: disease, sex trafficking, child prostitution, and the morality of this act – among other reasons you can see in the following infographic:
We must stop criminalizing the first time offenders, stop criminalizing the victims, and stop criminalizing the poor, coerced women in prostitution. But, those who buy sex or manage these women, such as johns and pimps, must remain criminalized. The government should help these women with welfare programs instead of just throwing them in jail and charging them. For instance, in surveys of prostituted women, “89% to 95% said that they wanted to exit the prostitution system but could not due to a lack of healthcare, money, education, and other basic resources” (Awaken Reno). So given this, shouldn’t we help first time offenders instead of just throwing them in jail for them to only continue the illegal acts they participate in? Decriminalizing prostitution is not the answer. It only, as seen in other cases, exploits victims and promotes trafficking, disease, and various sex crimes.
So what can we, as teenagers, do to combat these problems? Well, unfortunately, not much. All we can do as teenagers is try to protect ourselves from sex trafficking. In fact, human trafficking is on the rise in Western Pennsylvania, with “every hotel in Pittsburgh, even upscale ones, being involved in trafficking stings” (Pittsburgh Police). Girls can be sold for as little as $100 in Western Pennsylvania (Dr. Mary Burke). So, with such a rising epidemic, how can we protect ourselves? Apps that we use everyday are being used to target victims and reel them in with false fantasies or promises. In the United States, traffickers use things like craigslist to sell girls and recruit children and teens. We all do it. We put way too much information about ourselves on these platforms: information that is simply too revealing or personal. The information they collect is used to contact us and gain our trust. We must be smart when having interactions online. Instead of luring victims on the streets, now traffickers can send messages to many girls, just hoping one answers. When one does, the perpetrators can make thousands off of this one girl each night.
So in conclusion, let’s all just be safe. Watch what you put on social media, do not answer any strange messages, and use common sense. Also, sign this petition (https://www.change.org/p/pass-legislation-that-would-save-lives-and-prevent-human-trafficking) on change.org to help pass legislation to end human trafficking in the United States.