To Empower Women, We Must End Prostitution—Not Legalize It

At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we continue to be concerned about the proposal to legalize prostitution in the Empire State.

Prostitution is dangerous, unhealthy, and inherently exploitative to the person whose body is being rented for sex. Contrary to the contentions of advocates, legalizing so-called “sex work” would not eradicate sex trafficking or make women safer; in fact, the available data indicate that human trafficking increases when prostitution becomes legal.

Madeleine Kearns’s recent piece in National Reviewoffers a devastating critique of the movement to legalize prostitution. While advocates attempt to draw a line between sex trafficking (which they—correctly—deem repugnant) and willing participation in prostitution (which, in their view, should be legal), Kearns convincingly argues that most women who prostitute themselves do not believe that they have other options. According to one of her sources, many prostitutes have experienced childhood sex abuse and many grew up in foster care. Kearns cites a study from Nevada showing that a large majority of prostitutes would find other work if they believed that they could. Kearns also cites a 2008 report from the Netherlands showing that “between 50 and 90 percent of prostituted women in three Dutch cities were ‘working against their will.’”

There is nothing “empowering” about prostitution, whether it is conducted legally or illegally. Friends, let’s make sure our state keeps prostitution illegal.