This is a fairly ugly subject. But if we face up to the bad things in the world there is more chance they can be changed.
If you ever read "The Catcher In The Rye" then you'll remember how Holden Caulfield became really depressed thinking about the woman working as a prostitute. I share that feeling entirely. It's just bad and cruel for a person to be used that way.
Today's news report: "More slaves are alive today than were shipped out of Africa for the Atlantic slave trade during the last millenium, says Kevin Bales, an American academic on modern slavery". That is the Sydney Morning Herald, August 8th.
What he tells us is that some of them are 'working' (that is, bonded) in the sex industry. They are children or young women deceived into travelling overseas on work visas, some of them knowing they were going to be put to work as prostitutes but some not knowing - and being held in their 'workplace' by threats of violence, often not being paid. Of course this is not news to any one who follows current events. Neither is it news that this is a vile way to treat people. When the subject comes up of 'mans' inhumanity to man', the things often referred to are the holocaust, the massacre of native peoples by invaders to their country and war generally. It is just as evil to think of someone being forced to submit to repeated violation of this kind a slave, and a sexual assault victim as well. But there's no need to tell anyone that - we know. The angle I'd like to look at is this.
When people argue for the legalization of prostitution they say that if it's legal it can be monitored and supervised, so that certain standards are kept. Make it illegal, they say, and you just drive it underground so that the people working in it have no lawful protection. And it looks like that argument is pure rubbish - because even when it IS legal, there is still gross mistreatment of some of those involved in it. Could it be that prostitution is just an entirely bad idea?
Bales, the academic being quoted, says something else worth noting. The problem exists partly because people will will buy what what is being sold. If it sickens you to think of people-trafficking happening, say that to people who go to 'sex workers'. After all, some of those who do are quite open about it. And sometimes women hire men for that purpose, too. If no-one would buy sex, the whole filthy racket would collapse. But to stick to the point, it does not seem to work to make the thing legal. Allowing that gross 'industry' to exist openly does not guarantee that the 'workers' involved will be protected.
It must be a rotten sad thing if someone can't find a partner to love and share certain things with. If the only individuals who went to a bordello were lonely, that would be sad as much as wicked. But from what I've been told, that's not how it is. From time to time a scandal breaks about someone powerful and wealthy - and married - being caught out buying call girls. There's something amiss there. Do some people get their thrills being able to treat the partner they are with as a captive, not a person for sharing with?
Whatever it is, there are good arguments for not making prostitution legal. As soon as something is allowed by law, that can be taken as meaning that it's respectable. And of course it can be shown that outlawing something does not mean it won't exist. When governments tried making alcohol illegal, a huge illegal trade in it began - Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties, all the gangsters and all that. Likewise, narcotics like marijuana and ecstacy are illegal, but people still obtain and use them. But to legalize something might mean that the use of it increases, and if it's a bad thing then reducing the use of it is good. And to come back to the point: there seems to be something evil about prostitution, such that it will always involve mistreatment of the people involved. The damage can be to the 'customer', as well. I can's speak from experience - that is one mistake I did avoid, when younger and a lot sillier - but it's been reported that using sex-workers can become a compulsive, and the habit can ruin people.
If a thing is bad, you don't make it better by legalizing it. Sometimes people try to say there is nothing wrong with that trade. We can all have our opinions! It seems to me that paying for 'love-making' is like paying someone to pretend they are your friend: it's not real, and how long can you kid yourself?