Sex is a multibillion dollar business world-wide, and prostitution is an important component of this sector. In the UK the supply and demand side of the act of soliciting is illegal. Make it legal and acceptable once again and it can be taxed, providing valuable funds to our indebted government, and made safe, not only for the customers, but most importantly, for the women (and men) engaged in this line of work.
I agree with the Chairman that this is “a bad situation,” and it is wise for us to recognise the enormous potential we have to turn it around and make it beneficial to society, the people involved, and for the economy.
As far as society is concerned, it is considered a “vice,” but at the end of the day it is only sex. It is as natural as breathing. A former sex worker, Pye Jackobson from Sweden says that for a proportion of the customers it is “about holding someone,” and connecting with another human being. This is a cure for loneliness, and that is an unfortunate social norm that can not be legislated against.
If it were made more accessible, contained to certain districts in cities across the country, then men (and women) could pick and choose where they go to get this service. Market forces would do the rest. All of this readily available sex would surely prove to be far less harmful to marriages and families then people having affairs at work. If sex, rather than companionship, is the driving force behind an affair, then peoples needs could be better satisfied more easily through a safely regulated sexual services industry. I have no concern, as some do, that these “sex districts” (such as in Amsterdam) would become a blight on our cities. Sex stores have become a normal sight in city centres. I doubt brothels would be any more intrusive, either aesthetically or morally.
In light of the tragedies in Ipswich in 2006, David Cameron in his online diary (January 8th, 2007) stated that he is “not convinced legalising prostitution is the way forward,” and he went on to discuss the reasons why some women (and men) end up in prostitution, as he desires to tackle the cause rather than the symptoms of this age old aspect of society. The cause, in this modern era, is dependency on drugs (95% are dependent on drugs, according to an FT article, December 15th, 2006) which is why I believe the sooner it is legalised, the better. Legalise this and get the estimated 80,000 sex workers in the UK (2004, Home Office publication; Paying the Price) seen by doctors and nurses, and not only will they become immediately safer from the spread of STD’s, but they can, with help, begin the process of making themselves free from life threatening drug addictions.
Sending out a ‘strong message,’ like Sweden has, will only push this industry further underground, and those people caught up in it, further into their spiral of addiction and desperation. This will continue to provide an income source to organised crime. Legalise it and that becomes a profession, as it is in the Netherlands, and when it is a profession, it is liable to be taxed, and then that money which currently goes to organised crime and human traffickers could go to the Government. To start off with that would provide a further 80,000 people who can be taxed just like any self employed person. I expect VAT could be added to the fee charged for the service – since if it is classified as a service, and that should make VAT applicable. Then of course many brothels would probably become private limited companies, in which case 21% of their revenue would go to the Government in tax (current rate of Corporation Tax). All of this tax revenue would most likely cover the cost of treating many of these people for the drug addictions which got them into this situation.
In 2003 New Zealand decriminalised prostitution which has had the effect of “safeguard[ing] the human rights of sex workers, protect[ing] them from exploitation and promot[ing] occupational health and safety,” according to Ms Healy, a former sex worker from Sweden. Noble, and quite clearly, achievable aims. It is worth remembering the financial argument, since legalisation and regulation of this sector would take organised crime out of the equation, making it better for everyone involved.