Legalize Sex Work | Teen Ink

Legalize Sex Work

November 16, 2021
By lkress25 BRONZE, Nairobi, Other
lkress25 BRONZE, Nairobi, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

If an adult can consent to sex, why can’t one be paid for it? The government should not be able to control what two adults do in private. Prostitution being illegal means sex workers are marginalized from society. It's harder for them to seek help when they're being abused in their work space, and it will make it more difficult for them to gain access to healthcare.

The legality of sex work is controversial because prostitution--legal or not--can lead to problems if it isn’t regulated correctly. Some problems include sexually trasmitted diseases (STD), violence against prostitutes, sex trafficking, and drugs being heavily used in the workspace. People also question the morality of prostitution; if an adult is only consenting to sex for money and not for personal enjoyment, is it really consent? And others simply believe that selling sex is impure.  

One of the big problems in the sex work industry is the abuse and violence against prostitutes; workers are being shamed and harassed and if their work is illegal, they can’t get help. According to, sex workers have a 45% to 75% chance of experiencing sexual violence in their career.  According to, women in prostitution work are 60 to 100 percent more likely to be killed than women not working as prostitutes. 

Since the law works against them, prostitutes can be targeted by people who know it's harder for them to seek help, including the police, who may harass them or exploit them by demanding bribes.  Since prostitution is illegal, sex workers are afraid to seek help from the police if they’re being harassed or trafficked. 

A recurring argument against the decriminalization of prostitution is that it will only increase abuse and harassment of sex workers; I disagree with this. In the Netherlands, where it’s legal to be a sex worker, they have streets called tipplezones designated for their work. SEO Amsterdam Economics conducted research to see if the opening of tipplezones would decrease or increase rape and sexual assult.  Two years after the opening of a tipplezone, rape and sexual abuse decreased 32 to 40 percent. 

Legalized sex work also has economical benefits, According to, “In 2007 alone, Atlanta's sex trade was worth a staggering $290 million.”  However since it is illegal none of the revenue was taxed.  If sex work was legal, the government could tax it and use it to improve services like school, parks, etc.

Legalizing sex work would also make sex workers more comfortable with seeking sex and public health protection. In 2012 four prostitutes had their condoms used against them as evidence for sex work; this led other sex workers to be afraid of carrying protection, increasing the danger of transmitting STDs.  Prostitutes being afraid to carry condoms isn't uncommon; other police even harass or extort sex workers they find with condoms. Not only protection, but prostitutes are afraid of going to health clinics for check ups, fearing that doctors will suspect that they are sex workers if they admit they have sex often.

I think sex work is a valid job, and the mistreatment and problems of prostitutes will not be reduced through arresting the workers who are the ones being mistreated. The demand for sex work will always exist whether prostitution is illegal or not, but making it legal can create a safer environment for sex workers, better public health and stronger local economies. 


Works Cited

“Why Sex Work Should Be Decriminalized.” Human Rights Watch, 28 Oct. 2020, 

 M, Farley, and Barkan H. “Prostitution, Violence, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Women & Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 

Koster, Katherine. “17 Facts about Sexual Violence and Sex Work.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 7 Dec. 2017, 

“The Benefits of Legalizing Prostitution.” Borgen Magazine, 25 Jan. 2020, Accessed 10 Nov. 2021. 

“Greece: Police Abusing Marginalized People.” Human Rights Watch, 28 Oct. 2020, 

Trilling, David. “Holland's Legal Prostitution Zones Reduce Rape: New Research.” The Journalist's Resource, 4 Dec. 2020, 

Sex Workers, HIV and AIDS.” Avert, 10 Oct. 2019, 

Haltiwanger, John. “Why Legalizing Prostitution Would Make America Healthier, Wealthier and Safer.” Elite Daily, Elite Daily, 19 Nov. 2014,

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