Decriminalize prostitution


When an ordained priest of the Church of England writes that the government’s policy of criminalizing paying for sex then it is quite likely that those in power might be making a mistake.

As George Pitcher argues: “The first effect of such legislation would be to drive the "good" punters out of the market. Cosy, self-satisfied, middle-class observers may claim that there is no such beast as a good user of prostitutes. The prostitutes themselves would disagree." As such “The market for the oppressive, abusive and violent will expand, offering less protection for prostitutes, rather than the greater protection that is intended."

Pitcher hits the nail on the head: “laws made by legislators with an eye to the electorate, rather than care for the oppressed and vulnerable, can make lives considerably worse for those who most need our protection."

The motivations behind this government’s approach are clearly the perceived popularity of the tough stance, however the intellectual tradition, as Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon states, “include the radical feminist thesis that all heterosexual sex is exploitation, a Marxist view that all work is exploitation, and a religious evangelism which argues that all non-procreational sex is wrong."

Dr Brooks-Gordon also has he solution: “ministers should scrap the prostitution laws and start again by following New Zealand's lead in decriminalising the industry, which empowered workers and reduced violence. It also led to better cooperation between the police and sex workers against coercion, something which will do more to help the victims of trafficking than any amount of wrong-headed government meddling."