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What should the legal status of prostitution be?
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Decriminalisation protects sex workers

Decriminalisation of prostitution ensures that sex workers can access assistance to promote safety.


Sex workers are often at higher risk of disease and violence (both from police and clients). The majority of sex workers suffer from some form of violence, and the death rate for prostitutes is much higher than that of the general population. [1][2]

The Argument

By decriminalising prostitution, sex workers are able to get help if they are the victims of violence without fear of persecution. Sex workers in illegal systems suffer violence not only from clients, but from law enforcement themselves, and criminalising prostitution, therefore, amounts to a state failure to safeguard human rights.[3] Most importantly, sex workers themselves state that decriminalisation increases feelings of safety. Unlike in other systems, where many sex workers are afraid to even carry condoms lest they be used as grounds for arrest, systems which feature decriminalisation offer sex workers a feeling of safety knowing that they are free to go to the police, refuse clients, and request clients use protection.[4] A study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that the criminalisation of sex work has been linked to increased levels of violence and sexually transmitted infections.[5] Additionally, decriminalisation has been found to actively decrease HIV infection rates among sex workers.[6]

Counter arguments

‘Safer sex’ programmes for sex workers simply ensures they are healthy for male buyers.[1] The state condoning and accepting prostitution will cause rates of prostitution to increase, meaning corresponding rates of violence and infection will also increase. Instead, a no-tolerance system should be put in place to eradicate prostitution from the fabric of society.



[P1] A punitive approach to prostitution means that sex workers are unable to access necessary health services or report incidences of violence. [P2] Therefore, decriminalisation is necessary to safeguard the health and wellbeing of sex workers.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Decriminalisation increases demand, therefore increasing risk for sex workers.


This page was last edited on Thursday, 23 Jan 2020 at 12:57 UTC

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