The term prostitution often brings up a lot of feelings in conversation. We get this image in our heads about the young heroin addict walking the streets at nighttime, which is an outdated description that does more harm than good. Not only does a large portion of sex work take place online but prostitutes vary greatly in gender, age and social status, according to a study conducted at the University of Birmingham for the article Debates around sex industry based on 'sexist stereotypes '.
Enforcing laws to restrict these sort of exchanges is commonly accepted as a good way to protect people from the industry but in what way does criminalization actually help? Is the threat of being arrested larger than the threat of not affording food for yourself or your children? And has the amount of sex workers decreased at all since laws were put in place? In this essay I will attempt to explain why decriminalizing selling sex is a more humane option, with a focus on the United Kingdom.
For as long as we have had civilization, there has been people willing to pay for sex, and for as long as we have had poverty, there has been people willing to do anything to get out of it. This is the first and foremost reason why criminalization doesn 't work. Different countries have tried different approaches to dealing with prostitution, from full criminalization, to allowing street work but not brothels, and making it illegal to buy sex but not to sell it.