26 Nov 2012
Prostitution is a controversial topic with a faction of the society arguing that the ancient trade should be legalized whereas the opponents insist that prostitution should be an illegal business because it is unethical. The commercial sex effects and its nature elicit divided opinion because legalizing prostitution as a trade affects its characteristic as a gendered institution and social nature. A section of the society perceives prostitution as an unequivocal exercise of patriarchal control over women. The opponents of legalized prostitution business argue that the business is intrinsically sexually violent, which implies that it is an avenue of exploiting women. On the other hand, the proponents of prostitution state that it is an inevitable market exchange; thus, a form of business. Notwithstanding, prostitution has also been perceived as an expression of own sexual agency of women in the society.
The varied ethical and unethical dimensions of legalizing prostitution have been the contributing factors to the passionate exchanges on the position of prostitution as a form of business. The challenge in prostitution is that it is not a unitary business with standardized social exchange, and it is also persistently a gendered institution in the society. The practice of prostitution has social, economic and cultural connotations that vary, depending on multiple factors such as culture. Consequently, the varied opinions and debates arising out of prostitution take the form of ethical and unethical underpinnings. Legalized prostitution as a form of unethical business is discussed critically and in detail, presenting both sides of the argument.
An Analysis of Legalizing Prostitution as an Ethical Business
All legal employments do not operate under similar work environments and conditions. Various workplaces have diverse environments, depending on the management, occupational regulations, business owners and informal culture among the employees. Similarly, prostitution is an ethical form of business with similar workplace challenges as other legal professions. Prostitutes, whether legal or illegal, do not operate their business services under similar work conditions. Moreover, their reasons to engage in this business are varied for each individual just like other individuals engaged in other business occupations. Different businesses and institutions interact and handle their customers in different ways. Handling of the effects of customer interactions in businesses cannot be same. As a result, prostitution is an ethical business practice with workplace challenges similar to other businesses and occupations (Brents and Hausbeck 7).
The dangers experienced by illegalized prostitutes in form of abuses and violence are reduced if the business is legalized. The business transactions between the stakeholders are often negotiated and offered within brothels. The prices are negotiated between customers and the sex workers in the rooms of the prostitutes. There is an organized management and rules of engagement, which help in curbing such vices portraying legalized prostitution as unethical. As such, the proponents of legalized prostitution business argue that research have indicated that prostitutes who work in the legalized brothels are much safer and experience less instances of sexual and physical violence from their customers (Carver and Mottier 179).
The dangers and abuses touted to make legalized prostitution business unethical are handled effectively within brothels because the institutions have in place particular practices, which work to guarantee employee’s health and safety. The brothels have structured negotiation process and monitoring rooms to abate cases of sexual violence and physical abuses. Preventing services are enhanced in the business and customers’ behaviors are regulated (Brents and Hausbeck 11).
Legalized prostitution business cannot be regarded unethical because, like other business operations, prostitutes work as self-regulating contractors permitted to work only after satisfying the background checks approved by the state and counties. The business requires that participants pay for their license fees and pass health tests among other required regulations. Like other business occupations that are legalized, sex trade is ethical because the formal and informal rules subjected to the workers are different, the clients they deal with are different, their cultures and daily practices are also not similar. The business cannot, therefore, be balkanized to be unethical undertaking (Brents and Hausbeck 7).
It is ethical for prostitution to be legitimized because of the benefits and order that accompany such processes. According to Weitzer, legalization of business would offer the workers improved working conditions and employment satisfaction they may require. There would be less fear about the kind of business they engage in because of increased confidence. The regulations and structures governing the process would help in eliminating the challenges and problems that this business industry encounter. Police harassments of sex workers would decline. Legal businesses and occupations are safe and perceived to be ethical as opposed to illegalized operations and practices. Policing of customers in legalized prostitution would help protect the workers against violence and assaults, making the practice more ethical (Weitzer 92).
Legalized prostitution business would be considered ethical because the sex workers would not go through police harassments, possible sexual violence and injuries, fines as well as incarcerations. The sex workers in legitimate sex trade would experience stable social support networks and experience reduced cases of unethical acts like robbery, human trafficking and kidnappings. Legalized sex business would enhance the moral support in the commercial sex workers to identify with the business and reduce instances of reluctance to report illegal and unethical acts and practices within the business that brothel managers and owners expose these workers to. The unethical acts like hiring and manipulation of young girls and women to work in sex industry would decline. The reluctance to report the unethical acts and practices within sex business is partly of unwillingness by sex workers to identify publicly with the trade (Weitzer 92).
An Analysis of Legalized Prostitution as an Unethical Business
Danger and Violence
Legalized prostitution as a business takes place in legal brothels within the business industry. Legalized brothel business has certain indicators of exploitation that makes the business unethical to practice. Prostitution as a business is unethical because of the sexual violence and danger. According to the opponents of legalized prostitution business, the trade involves unfair and abusive labor conditions as well as continual social dishonor (Brents and Hausbeck 2).
Women working in the prostitution business are exposed to increased danger and injuries during their business engagements. The physical injuries and dangers in prostitution business include acts of sexual violence against the customers, which involve physical injuries. Furthermore, legalized prostitution as a business is an avenue to increased diseases among other crimes and abuses. The attitude towards the customers in legalized brothel by the involved stakeholders is often discriminatory based on psychological or physical abuse (Brents and Hausbeck 3).
The business of prostitution is unethical because it creates an environment where crime against the involved actors is commercialized. The sex workers are at times compelled to engage in sexual practices they do not approve for their payments to be executed. The commercial sex workers are forced to comply with these practices instead of consenting on the services offered or exchanged in business operations like other formal or legal operations. Exchange of services in sex business may be controlled by other third parties involved, such as the managers. The additional dynamics, which sex workers encounter in determining the services to offer to their clients, are forms of exploitations in these business engagements (Brents and Hausbeck 16). Despite the economic needs cited as the contributing factors to engage in this business, it can never be perceived to be legitimate because of the vices related to the business, including sexual exploitations and criminal acts.
The prostitution business is more inclined towards coercing the workers psychologically, unlike other forms of businesses because of the predominant position of the society on the practice. The sex workers in need of economic empowerment undergo psychological coercion when engaging in sexual acts. Further, they become more vulnerable to making genuine decisions and choices in life. The psychological coercions that this form of business exposes the vulnerable sex workers to make the rational interest of the prostitutes to comply with demands of the exploitative brothel owners (Roth 267).
Work Conditions and Control
In addition, the brothels where commercial sex work takes place have the authority to order the place and time of the service delivery in such businesses. The brothels could determine the clients that the sex workers carry out business with regardless of the position of the worker. The unethical aspects in this form of business are exemplified in controls and workplace settings in which clients who require business services can be turned down based on their race and the service preferences (Gleeson 12).
Prostitution business cannot be legitimized in any way because of the moral and ethical positions within the society that the trade goes against. The chances of women engaging in the business contracting venereal and sexually transmitted diseases are very high because the nature of the work conditions for the business entails sexual acts with several partners. Some commercial sex workers are infected with sexually transmitted diseases, and they may pass them easily to the clients they deal with. According to Murphy, 40% of sex workers in some regions in America are infected with AIDS virus (Murphy 33).
The business of prostitution is a continual explicit body-enslavement instance in which the workers are perceived generally as working animals. These commercial sex workers are reduced to needs of the body stringently. Legitimizing prostitution as a business does not eliminate the unethical practice in which the brothel owners are concerned more with the capacity of the sex workers to deliver more returns at the expense of their health. The practice of testing the sex workers regularly to determine their level of antibodies is for instance, carried out primarily for the brothels to ensure that their customers are safe. This exemplifies the practice of the business using the workers for financial gains. Infected sex workers may also be hindered from participating in the business on the grounds that they may drive away the customers (Murphy 33).
Women engaged in prostitution business have limited economic options to pursue. Prostitution in itself is associated with deeper social problems regarding marketing of human sexuality and bodies. The view of accepting prostitution as a legal business is challenging. It is unethical to expose humans to social ills and injustices because of payments or economic reasons. Procuring prostitutes is an act of exploitation and unethical for that matter. This form of labor to the society is unnecessary and inconsistent with the need to preserve human dignity. Legalized prostitution is absolutely unethical because it endorses all the ills, abuses and injustices perpetrated through prostitution (Murphy 34).
Solutions to the Prostitution Business
The most effective approach or strategy to end the business of legitimized or illegal prostitution is through instituting viable economic options, such as employment trainings for former and present sex workers who may have opted for this practice because of economic reasons (Murphy 34). Many sex workers engage in this unethical business because of the economic needs. Providing alternative viable economic options for these workers would help in cubing the rate of individuals involved in the business. Viable ethical businesses and legitimate occupations would serve in empowering the potential sex workers economically and deprive them of the need to engage in the illegitimate practice. The majority of the sex workers are not engaged in the practice because of the love of their occupation but because they needed to make ends meet and prostitution is the only easier option they could access.
The society should take upon itself to educate men and women of the right values, morals and dignity that make up respectable individuals within the society. The sex workers should be made to know that the society mainly decries the practice and business of sexual exchange for money such that women and men who engage in similar acts are deprived of the attention and ultimate love that morally upright people can get. The sex workers should be appealed to and convinced through constant interactions, explaining to them the dangers and problems that commercial sex work exposes them to. Through such actions, they would be taken in for reformation and rehabilitation programs and offered better alternative businesses to engage in (Nguyen).
Humans should be reminded and taught to value their self-dignity and respect. These women and men should be made to understand that they can offer the society clean, ethical, moral and safer services in life through businesses. They must be made to understand that the society has moral standards that its members should participate in upholding, and that unethical business engagements, such as legalized prostitution, do not contribute to establishing these societal standards. Instead, prostitution business only succeeded in providing a wrong and misleading example to the society. These sex workers should be engaged in reaching out to other sex workers and highlighting the vices that sex business contributes in the society (Nichols 107).
The religious institutions within the society should come out strongly in impacting their teachings and doctrines to the faithful and followers. Churches and mosques should influence the society in the right direction in accordance to the Bible and Quran teachings. None of the religious teachings support the practice or business of prostitution. If the society or the community adheres to the religious teachings and beliefs, the rate of prostitution and sexual acts within sex industry will decline. The church leaders should carry out awareness campaigns and teachings to ensure that the community abides by some beliefs and standards. Further, the government should conduct crack down on brothels and sex business owners who engage or put their employees through unethical acts considered illegal by the business rules and state or county laws. This approach would help the sex industry eliminate the business practices that contribute to the criminal deviances in the society. Nevertheless, the moral aspect of legitimized prostitution and human dignity for those who engage in the business will not be addressed through this method (Nichols 107).
Despite the justifications provided that legalized prostitution help to eradicate the negative and unethical problems associated with the sex industry, the business still remains an unethical because of lack of human dignity, exploitative work conditions, trading human sexuality for money and the moral decadence associated with engaging in sexual acts with multiple partners. The societal standards disregard sex business as an immoral and unethical engagement, which should be avoided. The problems brought about by legalized sex trade can be resolved through economic empowerment of the sex workers and rehabilitation of those workers. Religious and government institutions should come together in enhancing awareness and empowerment of the society against the ills and injustices experienced in sex industry. These actions would help in eliminating the sex business through minimizing the population of sex workers in the society.
Brents, Barbara and Kate Hausbeck. “What is Wrong with Prostitution? Assessing Dimensions of Exploitation in Legal Brothels.” Conference Papers — American Sociological Association. Montreal,: University of Nevada, 2006 . 1-24.
Carver, Terrell and Veronique Mottier. Politics of Sexuality: Identity, Gender, Citizenship. New York: Routledge , 2005.
Gleeson, Kate. “Budging Sex – What’s Wrong with the Pimp?” Australasian Political Studies Association Conference. Adelaide: University of New South Wales, 2004. 1-25.
Murphy, Julien S. The Constructed Body: AIDS, Reproductive Technology, And Ethics. Albany, NY : State University of New York Press , 1995.
Nguyen, Linda. “Laws against prostitution ‘unethical,’ court told; Sex workers’ safety ‘jeopardized’ lawyer argues.” The Ottawa Citizen 16 June 2011.
Nichols, Jeffrey D. Prostitution, Polygamy, and Power: Salt Lake City, 1847-1918. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008.
Roth, Venla. Defining human trafficking and identifying its victims : a study on the impact and future challenges of international, European and Finnish legal responses to prostitution-related trafficking in human beings. Boston : Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012.
Weitzer, Ronald John. Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business. New York : New York University Press, 2012.