Jul

22

 I thought this was an interesting article: "The most effective way to fight HIV Worldwide may be legalizing prostitution"

This is a "Gary Becker moment," an instance in which discrimination (in the form of criminalization) undercuts the discriminator and the discriminated. Becker held that in such situations, one should eliminate the discrimination to benefit both discriminator and discriminated. That's on an economic level. Let's face it, economics is one of the driving forces of prostitution worldwide.One might argue that in Southeast Asia (particularly Bangkok and other venues in Thailand), anything which might mitigate HIV transmission should be tried. HIV is among sex workers isn't quite at the level of Botswana (at 33 percent of the population—no, that's not a typo), but it's not that far behind. And trafficking is clearly an issue there. I'm just not sure that focusing on the customer will do much to protect the prostitutes. Customers will still want a maximal amount of privacy and will work to avoid interaction with law enforcement personnel, LEOs will be focused on prostitution rather than more violent offenders, and in response to customer desire for privacy, the prostitutes will exact higher charges with consequent entry (because of perceived ROI) on pimps and encouragement of trafficking (since there's still lots of money to be made).

The Swedish model, which attempts to regulate demand, is based on the same logic as arresting drug users in the US. That's been such a success that it merits being adapted/adopted to prostitution? Is there any data that the Swedish model has enjoyed any more success than its predecessor? The one advantage to full legalization is that if a prostitute has an infection communicated to his/her customers, there's one less reason for a customer to not seek treatment–or at least diagnosis. In the Swedish model, the customers would still have an incentive not to do so. I submit that that isn't a minor issue.

The question becomes: what's the point of decriminalization? Is it to move prostitution (the world's oldest profession) out of the back alleys or to minimize the trafficking of women? If the former, with the attendant potential for regulated health check ups and maybe even some measure of revenue for the state (not unlike legalizing pot), then teh Swedish model won't have much impact. If the latter, it may have impact, it may not–the data are hardly definitive. Either way, the status quo in much of the US certainly does not facilitate disease control among the prostitutes or their customers, save in Nevada where it's legal and health checks are mandatory.

It's not just HIV (deadly as it is) or GC/syphilis (with their attendant morbidity) but also HPV and herpes (which has its own co-morbidity during childbirth). There's more here than meets the eye, or the…


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