THE Government has banned a planned workshop for prostitutes because prostitution is illegal. Ethics minister Nsaba Buturo says prostitution is immoral, indecent, dehumanising and exploits people, and as such should remain illegal. Many agree, but others disagree.
Proponents of legalisation argue that prostitutes are not committing a harmful act; there is no victim because there are consenting adults involved. And that it is wrong to charge someone for what is freely dispensed. But opponents say prostitution is bought rape because what is there is a womanâ€™s compliance rather than consent.
Prostitution may lead to the spread of disease. But criminalisation may exacerbate the problem as it creates ideal conditions for abuse of sex workers. The Police cannot seek to arrest prostitutes and at the same time protect them from violence.
Decriminalisation would probably protect prostitutes from violence, abuse and disease, and guarantee their safety. For example, when prostitution was prohibited in the USA, homicides increased by 66%. After it was legalised, the homicide rate dropped to pre-prohibition levels in less than 10 years. Rape also decreased.
Prostitutes are driven into the trade by poverty and see the practice as employment where a woman owns herself and decides when and for how much to sell. Proponents say when adult women decide to exchange money for sex, it is a personal choice open to them under the philosophy of a free, democratic society. However, it is also true that prostitution is exploitation because women are turned into objects for menâ€™s sexual use.
Whatever the case, prostitutes are everywhere; in pubs and hotels, on streets, in brothels, massage parlours and strip bars. If the Police were to enforce the law, probably they would not do any other work. This would not end the practice, but only increase the number of criminals and government spending.
It is not time to legalise the practice. But it is time to allow debate on whether to ignore the trade or to regulate it in future.