Report: Legalization of Prostitution In Rhode Island Led To Improvements of Both Public Health and Public Safety

220px-The_ProcuressThe criminalization of prostitution has always been an anomaly in the law when compared to sex on camera for the adult entertainment industry. Libertarians question why consenting adults should not be able to agree to such arrangements since they can have as many lovers for free as a form of protected conduct. For those who have argued for legalization of prostitution, a recent study by Baylor University’s Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah of the University of California, Los Angeles may give them something of a boost. The study found that, for the years when prostitution was effectively legal in Rhode Island (but not street walking), both public health and public safety substantially improved with a drop in rape and a drop in the rate of gonorrhea among women.

The study appears to contradict the claim among some advocates that prostitutes (as well as pornography) fuels violence against women.

The two researchers found that the statewide incidence of gonorrhea among women declined by 39 percent, and the number of rapes reported to police in the state declined by 31 percent. Those are very significant statistical drops.

The effective legalization of prostitution occurred unintentionally as the result of an effort to tailor state laws in 1980 to avoid first amendment issues. The legislators however accidentally removed a section that defines the act as a crime and years later a court ruled that prostitution was not per se a crime under the law. However, other activities, such as streetwalking, pimping and trafficking, remained illegal. Ironically, the error resulted in precisely what many have argued as an ideal reform — banning pimping, streetwalking, and trafficking while allowing indoors prostitution that can be regulated and safely managed. Legalization advocates insist that such businesses have the ability to vet customers and monitor the situation to avoid many of the problems associated with prostitution.

Shah and Cunningham estimated that decriminalizing prostitution prevented 824 rapes that would have been otherwise reported to police. They were so surprised by the results that they decided to re-examine their data with three different statistical methods.

Feminists have already attacked the study and said that prostitution itself should be viewed as rape. Melissa Farley, a feminist psychologist, insisted that “Women in prostitution generally describe it as paid rape. That’s what if feels like to them.” However, advocates of legalization would argue that regulating the industry would help guarantee that this work is done consensually and they point to a large group of sex workers who have argued for such legalization.

Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University, also pointed out that legal prostitution would reduce the financial incentive for organized crime since “When something is prohibited, it allows organized crime to gain a foothold.” He cites European studies showing success with legalization of prostitution on these different issues.

An interesting study in an equally interesting area of debate.

Source: Washington Post

43 thoughts on “Report: Legalization of Prostitution In Rhode Island Led To Improvements of Both Public Health and Public Safety”

  1. Interesting that the conservative women here are the ‘feminists’ who see prostitution as rape, not the liberal women, me. I’ve been hearing so much about those awful liberal feminists and their puritanical fascism.

  2. @samantha

    Close, but maybe the better word is ” peonage” which is also unconstitutional. And all these 29 hour per week jobs. What a crock for a supposedly civilized society. But when you take God out of public life, and start the pro -abortion stuff, then why should we be surprised???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Yeah, peonage is a better word. Their masters socialize them to line up for loans like Apple disciples lineup for new iPhones, all night long in tents on sidewalks with Depends diapers and plastic bottles for porta potties.

  3. I don’t see prostitution as rape, but I do see the the huge danger of human trafficking, which would be slavery. Paid prostitutes unaligned with a john have made the decision to sell their own bodies and keep the proceeds to themselves, a financial venture, their business, as long as they don spread disease. License them and make them come in for regular checkups.

  4. Squeeky, isn’t that already what we have among 80 percent of employees, slavery contracts, who can no longer earn a living wage? Then there are those marriages. Oh, and the welfare state and its requisite clients.

    He who has a partner, has a master. — Alexandre Dumas, “The Count of Monte Cristo”

  5. “We don’t want women to be hookers.” And per the data above, it’s better they be raped? “Some stuff is just wrong and should not be permitted. Period.” That’s a fine emotional rant, with no logic behind it. Laws should not be based on the concept ‘that’s just wrong’. You may find prostitution offensive; that isn’t sufficient reason to make it illegal. Perhaps you ought to check out the ‘Honest Courtesan’ blog sometime, and hear what actual ‘fallen women’ have to say about their profession and lifestyle. Or are you convinced that you already know what you need to know about this subject?

  6. “Melissa Farley, a feminist psychologist”
    A triple threat, bad combination, and oxymoron.

    Women going to her for psychological guidance and resolution will not receive therapy or help, but rather a bellyful of feminist indoctrination, and interpersonal entitlements expectation.
    It is a recipe for more psychological angst and conflict with world, not less, and dangerously not therapeutic.

  7. Speaking of sex with many women, I am announcing my latest blog post, “Mormon misinformation, libertarian lunacy, and polygamist Pollyannas.” I was suffering from writer’s block and Turley’s blog helped me with that. I’d especially like to thank texpolygynist, John, samantha, and, of course, Turley, for their inspiration. Golden Country will be pleased that it has a plethora of links, as is usual for my work. As Bob would say, you have a nice day.

  8. Sooo, it is public policy that we don ‘t want people being slaves, particularly with the force of law to enforce the contract. It is the same with prostitution in most states. We don ‘t want women being hookers particularly with the force of law behind it.

    But, if one goes bye bye, how soon the other???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

    … slavery contracts between consenting adults …
    That is a contradiction in terms.

    Consent is a legal term which, for example, minors cannot give.

    Illegal contracts, which any slavery contract would be, are void ab initio because they are contrary to public policy.

  10. “The prostitute is not, as feminists claim, the victim of men, but rather their conqueror, an outlaw, who controls the sexual channels between nature and culture.” –Camille Paglia

  11. Of course, there are some feminists who think that ALL heterosexual relations are in fact rape. The majority do not. So I think that we can discount objections from that quarter. I think it is time to legalize prostitution with some good regulations as they do in many countries in Europe. This would also promote sexual health among the gay population as well since prostitutes do NOT have to be only female.

  12. “Feminists have already attacked the study and said that prostitution itself should be viewed as rape.”

    Of course they did. This is one of the greatest threats to their power, which is derived from simultaneously describing women as helpless victims and strong capable people that are not limited by any factors. It’s how these womyn groups can claim with a straight face that if two drunk college kids have sex, only the man is culpable for his actions.

    Legalize prostitution. Regulate it. Crime will drop and women who are willing to use their bodies in that way will make a good living. Funny how puritanical the women’s groups are at times, much like the fundamentalist groups they actively campaign against.

  13. On the other side of the brain:

    The word “prostitution” can also be used metaphorically to mean debasing oneself or working towards an unworthy cause or “selling out”. In this sense, “prostituting oneself” or “whoring oneself” the services or acts performed are typically not sexual. For instance, in the book, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield says of his brother (“D.B.”): “Now he’s out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.” D.B. is not literally a prostitute; Holden feels that his job writing B-movie screenplays is morally debasing. Sex work researcher and writer Gail Pheterson says that this additional definition exists because “the term “prostitute” gradually took on a Christian moralist tradition, as being synonymous with debasement of oneself or of others for the purpose of ill-gotten gains”.

    (Wikipedia, “Prostitution”). The press version of this which Dick Cheney operates is called “presstitution.”

    Bush II was unaware of many versions of it:

    “We’ve got a lot of relations with countries in our neighborhood.”—Kranj, Slovenia, June 10, 2008

    “Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN’s aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.”—Sept. 6, 2004, Poplar Bluff, Mo.

  14. More importantly I think would be that there would be a drop in the killings with such a more secure setting than when illegal. Perhaps the more difficult the victim, the easier to apprehend the serial killers who cannot specialize in street walker workers.

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