Decriminalize Prostitution Now Coalition
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Decriminalize Private Adult Sexwork Coalition
Your Tax Dollars Are Being Wasted Ruining Citizens Lives
Instead of fighting real crime
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Why is it still illegal to pay for sex? article highlights

May 7, 2007

"The ultimate victimless crime" - No sexual disease issues just an excuse
It is the criminalization that does take actual victims
Even those who feel a certain schadenfreude at Tobias's downfall should be asking the question: should there have been a criminal case in the first place?

Prostitution is currently legal in virtually all developed nations, though often surrounded by restrictions and regulations. It is illegal everywhere in the United States except Nevada and, by a legal quirk, in Rhode Island if all transactions are conducted in a private residence.

Yet prostitution is perhaps the ultimate victimless crime: a consensual transaction in which both parties are supposedly committing a crime, and the person most likely to be charged—the one selling sex—is also the one most likely to be viewed as the victim. (A bizarre inversion of this situation occurs in Sweden, where, as a result of feminist pressure to treat prostitutes as victims, it is now a crime to pay for sex but not to offer it for sale.) It is sometimes claimed that the true victims of prostitution are the johns' wives. But surely women whose husbands are involved in noncommercial—and sometimes quite expensive—extramarital affairs are no less victimized.

Another common claim is that prostitution causes direct harm by contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. However, that may be the reddest herring of them all. In Australia, where sex for money is legal, the rate of HIV infection among female prostitutes is so low that prostitution has been removed from the list of known risk factors in HIV surveillance. In the U.S., reliable data are more difficult to come by, but a 1987 Centers for Disease Control study likewise found very low infection rates among prostitutes.

It's the criminalization of prostitution that does take actual victims. Take Brandy Britton, briefly notorious as "Madam Professor." In January 2001 the 41-year old Britton, who had taught sociology and anthropology at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County until quitting in 1999 amidst conflicts with colleagues and allegations of falsifying research, was arrested on prostitution charges. Britton had allegedly advertised on the Internet as "Alexis Angel," "a very passionate full-service, GFE (girl friend experience) escort and erotic masseuse," stressing her intelligence and education and charging from $300 an hour to $2,500 a day for her services. A year later, the week before her scheduled trial, Britton committed suicide.

While Britton may not have led an admirable life—her last occupation aside, her academic career seems to have been undone by professional misconduct and a habit of making unsubstantiated sex-discrimination charges—surely her death was a needless tragedy. It's hard to see who benefited from the fact that the authorities in Maryland spent a lot of taxpayer money to investigate and prosecute a woman for discreet and private sexual encounters with men—encounters that would have been perfectly legal if, instead of directly paying her for sex, those men had spent an equivalent amount on dates and gifts.

As with other victimless crimes, the criminalization of prostitution creates a vast breeding ground for corruption, hypocrisy, and morally dubious law enforcement tactics. Thus, open advertisement of escort services is widely tolerated under the flimsy pretext that clients are paying for companionship, "modeling," "role play" and other non-sexual activities, and that when sex occurs it's by mutual choice unrelated to any fees. Selective enforcement is the norm, as is entrapment. Anti-prostitution campaigns are also frequently accompanied by the Big Brother-ish practice of state-sponsored public shaming. Not to mention how black market constitution makes it more difficult to police the sex slave trade, where the prostitutes really are victims.

Unlike some defenders of prostitution such as "Mayflower Madam" Sydney Biddle Barrows, I do not believe that selling sex should ever be seen as an empowering or liberating way of life, or an affirmation of female sexuality. (If anything, it perpetuates the notion that sex is something women do for male enjoyment.) I do not believe, as sex-positive feminist Susie Bright has written, that "sex-work professionals are [among] the future's largest contingents of the new het-sex liberation front." Nor do I think that disapproval of sex for profit invariably stems from a residual notion that sex is bad, or that "sex work" should be destigmatized as just another career. But there is a vast difference between social stigma and criminal prosecution, between personal moral judgment and the nanny state.

One of many comments on above
"Why is it still illegal to pay for sex?"
Because sex is a pleasurable activity, and we can't have such in the US. Just like we can't have gambling, drinking on Sundays, sex toys and much more (can you tell I live in Georgia?).

Go after real crime not consenting adults sex
 Good public post on

As a former Madam that was arrested 10 years ago for running an escort service on the East Coast, I am so saddened to see that nothing has changed. Imagine, getting jail time or getting fined for setting up a date between two consenting adults. It's time for a change in the laws.
 Just enact the "Blind Eye Law" as they did in New Zealand years ago. If there's no complaint, leave them alone. Go after the traffickers and rapists, not the "normal, hardworking people" who CHOOSE to be a part of this business, either being the buyer or the seller.
 I'm also disappointed in Hillary's comments about the legal brothels in Nevada grouping it together with trafficking and underage people. She said she doesn't recommend it as a career choice. Why don't any of these people as the people involved in these services instead of some drug addicted street person or one who was trafficked. It's time to draw the line between the two situations.
 Geraldo, start the ball rolling, no pun intended. We don't belong getting arrested. Just leave people alone if there is no complaints. It's a necessary business, again, just ask the ones involved, don't suppose what the business is all about. We need to look at our Constitution again and separate Church and State. Sisters, let's march on Washington Labor Day as this is a job, just a job, a well paying one at that. Let's have a big meeting in NY this summer, I'll finance it. Write to me at Be safe my sisters.


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