Some thoughts on prostitution

Last weeks the Dutch city of Utrecht made national head lines because of a controversial decision to close so-called prostitution boats. Though prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, there is great concern about the fact that many prostitutes are victims of human traffickers. Ironically the problem has become worse after the legalisation of prostitution.

In order to combat the problem of forced prostitution, many Dutch cities are revoking the licenses of brothel owners they suspect of human trafficking. Consequently, many prostitutes are losing their work places, including those who have entered this job voluntarily. It’s important that the bad pimps and their criminal associates are prosecuted, but in the way things currently work, the voluntary prostitutes (and their clients) are victimized.

Since the sole brothel owner in Utrecht has lost its license, there are no brothels left in the city. Some of the prostitutes who has lost their work place, have come up with the plan to start a cooperative of prostitutes. This cooperative would take over the brothel and the prostitutes themselves would run it. In this way the prostitutes are no longer depended on the services of a pimp.

Several people involved in this issue (e.g. mayors, district attorneys, prostitutes themselves) are calling for a mandatory registration of prostitutes. Only those who voluntary enter this particular trade, can be registered. When a client seeks the services of a prostitute (s)he is obliged to ask for the prostitute’s registration card.

Considering that prostitution will not disappear any time soon, and will likely also exist in future space settlements, I would propose the following system:

1. It will be prohibited to buy sexual services, unless from a registered sex-worker;

2. All sex-workers have to be registered by the authorities;

3. In order to be registered as a sex-worker, a person must be:

a. at least 21 years of age

b. be a citizen or permanent resident

c. a member a sex-worker cooperative.

This system would prevent most abuse in the sex-industry, whilst respecting people who voluntarily enter this branch.



17 thoughts on “Some thoughts on prostitution”

  1. I like the idea, but there is a stigma associated to sex workers which might discourage any woman or man from registering their trade.

    1. That’s a serious concern. Therefore such registration should be mandatory. Further, the register itself would not be public and in order to check a prostitute’s registration status, the client should ask the prostitute for his or her registration card. Additionally schools should pay attention to the issues of sex-workers, which could help to improve their social position.

      1. Good addition. I like the attitude to sex portrayed in Battle Star Galactica. It’s open and frequent, free of hang-ups and taboos.

        1. I have been contemplating another problem. How could a client verify the authenticity of the registration card? My idea would be a QR-code on the card, the client can download an app on his cell phone. Then (s)he can scan the QR code with his phone, and the app will show whether it’s a valid card.

          1. Ah, but people will fear such an ID card. Information can be abused, and it’d only take on breach in this to potentially ruin the whole system. It’s a foreseeable problem, but its not a deal breaker. The stigma has to be shattered first so that if any disclosure occurs (and it probably will occur at some point) then its not ruinous to the individual.

            1. “The stigma has to be shattered first so that if any disclosure occurs (and it probably will occur at some point) then its not ruinous to the individual.”

              Once sex-work has become a normal profession, our only concern with this industry would be those persons forced to do this work.

    1. That would be a little bit extreme, given the fact that while lobotomies were widely practiced in the US, the Soviets banned it because it was considered inhumane.

        1. I agree that human trafficking is an inhumane crime, but I think life imprisonment with hard labour would be a more suitable punishment.

  2. I still wonder what a ‘voluntary prostitute’ is. One of them once asked me: “Do you think I’d do this kind of work if I could type?” I thought that was a rhetorical question. And it was.

    1. I have once read a newspaper article about female university students who were working as prostitutes; given that in the Netherlands students can get study grants/loans from the government and that these were intelligent women, we could reasonably assume they were doing these job voluntary. One caveat, these women were active in the more exclusive niche of providing sexual services to businessmen.

  3. The argument the government proposes is like trying to control how people should drive a bicycle. Some people (those who observe and respect the law) would behave accordingly but many simply wouldn’t, it is like hearding cats.

    What I am trying to say here: “Customer is obliged as to ask for prostitute’s registration” seems the least thing that comes to the mind of someone who is looking for a sexual intercourse. So it requires a collaboration from a part who highly unlikely would care to colcollaborate

    1. Thanks for pointing out this one. However, if a person seeks the services for an unregistered prostitute (s)he risks to be charged for accessory of human trafficking, therefore a potential client has an interest to ask for the registration. Because I agree with you that not all prospective customers would do this, it’s important that the government informs the public about the problem of human trafficking through education and campaigns.

      1. Sure, I am with you here, but do you think that a customer would go to the police and report an illegal prostitution because he wanted to have sex and that person happened to be a non-licenced prostitute?

        I bet that many wouldn’t even care. People are afraid of being publicly caught with a prostitute, go figure if they would report a non-licenced one because they had intentions to have sex…

        1. Of course, it’s unlikely that people will report illegal prostitution. Therefore (undercover) police controls would be (still) necessary.

          In regard with being afraid of being caught with a prostitute: this why John and I believe why prostitution should be considered as a normal profession, which would require paying proper attention to sex-work during sex-ed at schools.

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