Does more sex workers means less victims?

A 2012 study published in World Development, “Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?” investigates the effects legalized prostitution in high-income countries has on human trafficking. Seo-Yeong Cho, a researcher from the German Institute for Economic Research, and  Axel Dreher, of the University of Heidelberg and Eric Neumayer of the London School of Economics and Political Science, analyzed data from 116 countries to determine the effect of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows. In addition, they reviewed case studies of Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to examine the long-term effects of both legalizing or criminalizing prostitution.

Of the findings discussed in the article by Carol Tan , two of them seem to be the most interesting. The first being that while trafficking inflows are lower where prostitution is criminalized,  there are severe repercussions for those working in the industry. Criminalizing prostitution penalizes sex workers rather than the pimps and traffickers who are the ones who earn most of the profits.

Secondly, the likely negative consequences of legalized prostitution on a country’s inflows of human trafficking might be seen to support those who argue in favor of banning prostitution. When prostitution is not legal, the flow of trafficking is reduced. However, that argument overlooks potential benefits that the legalization of prostitution might have on those employed in the industry. Working conditions could be substantially improved for prostitutes — at least those legally employed — if prostitution is legalized. Prohibiting prostitution also raises tricky freedom of choice issues concerning both the potential suppliers and clients of prostitution services.


One thought on “Does more sex workers means less victims?

  1. Entries for Summer II 2014, Week 3 (July 20-26): 5 out of the recommended 5. GRADE: 95%
    Good links. But remember to use “fewer” for countable items (i.e. fewer victims).


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