Behind the line of consideration: prostitutes and rights
Prostitution is a global phenomenon. It is not a product of the modern times. It is, in fact, a profession, which dates back to centuries, and it might just be one of the oldest professions today. However, it is made illegal in many countries. Prostitution is looked down upon and most governments choose to impose their moral standpoints upon this profession which is not only unethical and unjustified, it is also a very useless practice, because despite prostitution being outside the law, it is still a very thriving profession all over the globe.
The moral standpoint itself is a very flawed one, because sex-workers are selling their physical labour for money, which is what a number of manual-laborers do, and if the sex-workers are themselves comfortable about it, one should not impose moral obligations upon them. Prostitution being outside the law ends negating a sex-worker’s basic rights. And since the profession has not been made extinct by butting it outside the folds of the law, the governments of different countries should think about making it legal. This step, supplemented with basic rights for sex-workers, will be a big step forward, not only in the terms of the quality of life of the sex-workers, but also for their children and for those around them.
Prostitution, in an indirect way, helps ward of rapes and sexual crimes. It helps keep a lot of aggression off society, but the sex-workers themselves lead terrible lives which are devoid of basic safety, security, and health amenities. The legalization of prostitution will also prevent forced prostitution. Sex-workers will have rights, and it will be easier to curb human trafficking because these will be the activities outside the legal parameters, and will therefore be much easier to identify. Also, underage prostitution will be curbed, because the profession will, after getting legalized, have parameters of what is allowed and what isn’t.
For the sex-workers themselves, their lives are almost always given very little value. On account of their profession, sexually transmitted diseases are rampant amongst not just them, but also their children. And it is a very flawed misconception that they’re often the carriers. With legal protection, their profession will be addressed from a very neutral point of view, and health concerns will be addressed more freely. They will be given access to birth control methods as well as to protection from such diseases. They will be able to voice out such concerns to their customers as well, instead of being completely ignored, as it happens today.
Just because a woman is a sex-worker, does not mean she does not have the right to say no to sex. This is a huge issue, because a sex-worker who has been raped cannot approach the police since she herself is guilty of the crime which is her profession. With some rights, they will be able to stand their ground more firmly. Many of them are raped and killed and nobody bothers about them only because they have no identity as far as the law is concerned. A lot of physical and mental abuse is also often thrust upon them by their customers because the latter party knows that sex-workers cannot approach the police to seek justice for themselves. This too will be prevented.
Their children are not only born with HIV or AIDS half the time, they are also rendered hopeless, and they are not incorporated into mainstream society and they are ostracized, as a result of which they are also devoid of education, respect, and options for job opportunities. After being shunned by the law, they learn to make their way outside the law.
What prostitution lacks is a basic dignity of labour. They are the ones who help us stay safer on the streets. We should be the ones to recognize their human value and to start respecting them as people. Their profession, once it gains some rights, will invariably remove some of the points of stigma attached to it. They should not be made to remain unheard and unjustified all their lives.