prostitution and sexual abuse. I think it would be best to deal with them
separately (at least, at first) and then see if there is a connection.
It seems to me laws regulating prostitution are unconstitutional on their
face. Assuming they are acts between consenting adults, they prohibit
freedom of association. Everyone has the right to sell their labor at
whatever price they want to charge. Unfortunately, those people with money
generally make the determination what a worker will be paid. Making the
profession illegal only makes working conditions more dangerous. This is
certainly true of migrant workers. An "illegal" migrant worker is not
likely to complain about unsafe working conditions. That’s why factory
owners want to employ illegal migrant workers but they don’t want them to
become legal. If the profession of prostitution were legalized then certain
standards of public health could be enforced, and sex workers would enjoy
legal protection from rape, fraud and illegal exploitation.
But I join with Wizard in celebrating the closing of the last sauna or
prostitution business on Lake Street. Now, I wish you could get them off
the street in front of my house. The used condoms are unhealthy and
difficult to explain to young children waiting for a school bus. I don't
think you can constitutionally prohibit prostitution, but I do think you can
regulate it through zoning. Adult behavior is not appropriate in
neighborhoods. There needs to be a special zone for it that is not in an
area where children need to deal with it on a daily basis.
With regard to sexual abuse, the figures I've always heard are that one in
three women and one in ten men will be sexually abused in their lifetime.
These are serious problems that affect the public health of all of us.
There is a need for a massive public campaign to educate everyone that
sexual abuse is wrong; that if you are the victim of sexual abuse there are
places you can go to get help and counseling; and that perpetrators of
sexual abuse will be punished.
I am sure that Wizard is correct when she says the great preponderance of
women (and probably men) in prostitution have been sexually abused. But
I’m also sure she knows enough Jesuit logic to recognize this as a post
hoc, propter hoc fallacy. There is no evidence in those statistics that
would suggest prostitution caused sexual abuse. But let us agree that most
women working in prostitution have been victims of sexual abuse. Further,
let us agree that many are still suffering from the after effects of that
abuse and may be acting out and self-medicating to deal with that trauma.
Is it best then to criminalize them?
Wouldn’t it be better to not judge the choices these women have made, but
instead insist they operate in an adult zone of the city, under safe
conditions and that they see a public health nurse every week to get a clean
medical health certificate? Also, at these weekly (or monthly) conferences
the public health nurse could suggest mental health counseling if that
The current situation is intolerable. And, for young male prostitutes
having unprotected sex, the results can be deadly. We desperately need to
deal with this problem. We need to insist that our public officials—at
the city, county and state levels—recognize this problem and begin a