Essay about Regulating Prostitution

4814 Words20 Pages
Regulating Prostitution

Historically, although prostitution has been viewed as a threat to the moral order and a danger to public health, the state has tended to legislate for the regulation of prostitution, rather than introducing measures focussed on its elimination. Even early Christian societies did not seek to eliminate prostitution, with the Church fathers justifying this stance by asserting that "Sewers are necessary to guarantee the wholesomeness of palaces." (quoted by de Beauvoir, 1974, 618). St Augustine was adamant that prostitution should be recognised as a necessary social evil, arguing,
Suppress prostitution and capricious lusts will overthrow society. (cited in Roberts, 1992, 61).
His stance was predicated on a belief
…show more content…
Prostitution continued to flourish so that by the 1860s Henry Mayhew estimated there to be over 80,000 women working as prostitutes in London - how many men were their clients we have no idea.
It is clearly evident that the dominant state response to prostitution has been to seek its regulation and control rather than its elimination. A study of the international sex industry today, however, reveals that the ways of achieving such regulation differ markedly, both between and within nations. Thus in the United States areas of minimal regulation exist alongside states with highly interventionist policies. Significant differences also exist in how European governments have sought to control prostitution. The measures adopted range from the legalised red-light districts of Hamburg to the tolerance of window prostitution in Amsterdam and the arresting of male clients in Sweden. Closer to home, across the Tasman in Australia there are distinct differences in the ways state governments view and attempt to regulate the sex industry. These will be examined later in this section.
Contemporary approaches to regulation
There are four principal approaches that states have adopted internationally with regard to the regulation of prostitution. Each of these is briefly presented below.
Criminalisation
This approach makes prostitution an illegal offence for both the client and sex worker, and in so doing seeks to reduce or eliminate the sex
Get Access