Prostitution Reduces Rape

A new paper in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy by Bisschop, Kastoryano, and van der Klaauw looks at the opening and closing of prostitution zones (tippelzones) in 25 Dutch cities.

Our empirical results show that opening a tippelzone reduces sexual abuse and
rape. These results are mainly driven by a 30–40 percent reduction in the first two
years after opening the tippelzone.
For tippelzones with a licensing system, we
additionally find long-term decreases in sexual assaults and a 25 percent decrease
in drug-related crime, which persists in the medium to long run.

Cunningham and Shah studied decriminalization of indoor prostitution in Rhode Island and found very similar results.

We exploit the fact that a Rhode Island District Court
judge unexpectedly decriminalized indoor prostitution in 2003 to provide the first causal estimates
of the impact of decriminalization on the composition of the sex market, rape offenses, and sexually
transmitted infection outcomes. Not surprisingly, we find that decriminalization increased the size
of the indoor market. However, we also find that decriminalization caused both forcible rape offenses
and gonorrhea incidence to decline for the overall population. Our synthetic control model finds 824
fewer reported rape offenses (31 percent decrease) and 1,035 fewer cases of female gonorrhea (39
percent decrease) from 2004 to 2009.

In addition a working paper by Riccardo Ciacci and María Micaela Sviatschi studies prostitution in New York and also finds that prostitution significantly reduces sex crimes such as rape:

We use a unique data set to study the effect of indoor prostitution establishments on sex
crimes. We built a daily panel from January 1, 2004 to June 30, 2012 with the exact location of
police stops for sex crimes and the day of opening and location of indoor prostitution establishments.
We find that indoor prostitution decreases sex crime with no effect on other types
of crime. We argue that the reduction is mostly driven by potential sex offenders that become
customers of indoor prostitution establishments. We also rule out other mechanisms such as
an increase in the number of police officers and a reduction of potential victims in areas where
these businesses opened. In addition, results are robust to different data sources and measures
of sex crimes apart from police stops.

It’s become common to think that rape is about power and not about sex. No doubt. But some of it is about sex. Quoting Ciacci and Sviatschi again:

We find evidence consistent with the fact that potential perpetrators substitute
towards indoor prostitution establishments instead of engaging in sex crimes….This mechanism is in line with a survey of men who had purchased sex from women in London.
About 54% of these men stated that if prostitution did not exist then they would be more
likely to rape women who were not prostitutes. This belief was clearly held by one man who even
stated: “Sometimes you might rape someone: you can go to a prostitute instead” (Farley et al.,

In short, a wide variety of evidence from different authors, times and places, and experiments shows clearly and credibly that prostitution reduces rape. This finding is of great importance in considering how prostitution should be rationally regulated.


Do social norms reduce rape and sexual violence? Are you looking at situations where there are no social norms, which also explains why prostitution is accepted?

Harvey Weinstein would like to know. After all, it is Hollywood culture, and everyone does it.

And, social norms and public shaming won't have any effect because that's just being politically correct. At least that's what Bill O'Reilly said.

Does the study do a follow-on effect study: that is, what is the condition of a prostitute ten years after engaging in this activity, what are the after on effects to that person, or are you just measuring the incidence of a relatively rare event (rape) and not measuring other immediate and long term effects.

Smoking has no immediate effect, and I hear that you can lose weight from smoking.

Do you think prostitutes do better later in life if they work in an environment where it is legal or illegal? What do you suspect is the effect of public arrest records is on future employment prospects vs staying in prostitution long-term because -- after an arrest -- there are few other viable legal options? Do you think the college girls who 'work' as 'sugar babies' are scarred for life? How would your answer change if some DAs decided to go after the sugar daddy/sugar baby industry and many of these women were arrested and ended up with records?

The fact that you don't know shows you the shortcomings of the studies.

Thank you for proving my point.

My questions were rhetorical. You know as well as I do that people with criminal records face very serious barriers in employment. Whatever the long-term negative physical or psychological consequences of having been a prostitute might be, there is really no doubt that adding a criminal record (and a searchable mug shot and story in the local crime blotter) would make those consequences much worse (and make leaving prostitution much harder).

As someone who has patronized prostitutes, I would have very little doubt that most will be more miserable in ten years than they'd be if they worked in the menial jobs that would be their alternative. Yet a defining feature of our cultural ideology is women's collective right to whore around as much as they like, with consequences either not recognized or imposed on society as a whole. I don't see why, in literal prostitution, I should suddenly see it differently. If she sees it as advantageous at this moment to trade money for sex, then it's her body and her freedumb to do so.

Lucky for you they literally 'whore around', or you'd never get laid.

Well, "never" is a bit much. But it is a lot less time consuming ;).

Oh, I can't imagine having sex takes more than a few seconds for you.

You have a valid point about the hypocrisy of feminists who think a woman's "choice" is sacred only when it's one they agree with, but it could do without the mean-spirited attitude. Very unhelpful.

Bill, as a retired sex worker and sex worker activist for the past 35 years, I know thousands of sex workers around the world- including those who have worked in excess of 20 or more years. The ones who thrive have not been arrested and work in a system where they have support from the police and their peers.

Others still maintain, particularly those who are part of our international sex worker rights community. I can't say that I was in any good condition after the 10 years I spent working for the LAPD in the early part of my life (1972- 1982) primarily because it was stressful and dangerous. Sex work was by far the better, more honest job.

Norma Jean,

I read your Wiki entry.

1. Since your view is that consensual sex in exchange for money should be permissible, would you support a manager or Harvey Weinstein demanding sex in exchange for a movie position. It's an offer; the other person is free to accept or reject. No different than a high priced call girl.

2. In looking at your profile I see that you also work to deal with the physical and mental problems of those in the profession. Or, is that a myth.

3. What do you think of Anthony Weiner and the former Attorney General from New York?

I'm also concerned about the hookers - is rape actually decreasing, or is violence directed at working girls not noted?

Stuff like this awakens my disrespect for academics.

The innocent suffer when the guilty are not punished.

Start by determining whether rape concerns males' (over-active) sex drives or is it degradation, violence, and hatred of women.

One other option: hang rapists. It couldn't hurt. It precludes recidivism.

"One other option: hang rapists. It couldn’t hurt."

Sure it could. You know what you happens if you make rape a capital crime? You covert more rapes into murders (why would a rapist let his victim go free afterward if the penalty for rape and murder were the same)?

Do you? What is the evidence for that precisely?

Many rapists may set out thinking they are going to rape who would not be willing to do so if they knew they had to murder as well.

It seems reasonable that both points may be correct to some degree, a lack in an over abundance of studies notwithstanding.

Because rapists are known for their tender sensibilities and foresight.

I think you would probably have fewer rapes, but more rape-murders.
That is, maybe right now you have 100 rapes but only 3 of them are murder rapes. You might only have 10 rapes afterwards, but all 10 of them would be murder rapes.

The other way the penalty for rape and murder can be the same is completely eliminate the death penalty, as happened in many states including mine. Where I've followed cases (as in the Fenway area of Boston) where a young college girl was raped by two men who finished by killing her. No extra penalty and no witness to the rape.

There should always be a much harsher penalty for taking a life. But in some states that means reducing the penalty for forcible aggregated rape.

Louisiana had a similar experience with convience store robberies in the late 70s. They made the minimum penalty for the robbery more than the minimum penalty for murder, and were surprised when the clerks started being regularly murdered.

Hang rapist would imply you must also hang women who falsely claim rape. Also would you hang the 18 year old boy who had sex with his 17 year old girlfriend? Is that rape or not rape?

I don't think that is appropriate. Traditionally, statutory rape was cause for the equally-traditional "shotgun" wedding.

Women should be armed and trained both in armed and unarmed self-defense. Sadly, a Ruger Super Black Hawk revolver in .452 Cassul will not fit in the typical purse.

I wonder if there's a single state where sex between an 18 and 17 year old is illegal. Few states have 18 as the age of consent, and most states have laws legalizing sex between teens of similar ages.

11 states have 18 as the age of consent. Your username was a good choice.

The case that went before the Supreme Court where they upheld the statutory rape laws was an 18 year old boy who was three days older than his girl friend. The girls father planned it and got him. He served time and had to register as a sex offender for life.

If males along with their overactive sex-drives are the problem and the premise of public policy is to prevent "degradation" and "exploitation" of women, then we should also shut down the strippers and pornographers who give these [email protected] such prurient pleasure. Is it really any better if a man objectifies and forces a woman sex worker by paying her (a couple hundred bucks) to excite him and bring him to climax while he keeps his pants on for a "private couch dance" than if he also gets to take his pants off and she's allowed to touch him?

I could probably be persuaded to allow any transactions made without coercion made by free adults. I could perhaps also be persuaded that pornographcy and allowing sex to be a commodity in any form degrades the humanity of both producer & consumer while cheapening human relationships. However this "half-tolerance" is absurd and hypocritical. If paid sex is an abomination, and "exploitation of women" then I don't understand why we tolerate it as long as a camera is records it for mass production and distribution. If paying for sex equivalent to exploitation and promotes degradation and objectification of one of the sexes, then the mass production of that is producing degradation & objectification on an industrial scale. Indeed a case could be made that professionally produced & finessed imagery of pornography is actually worse than real world up-close & personal sex-services like prostitution in how it fuels unrealistic fantasies & expectations on a mass scale much worse than interacting with real life unretouched human bodies ever could. Whatever ridiculous disgusting & sadistic fantasies fictional depictions of pornography fuel, actually having to interact with a genuine human being instead might promote the client of the prostitute to discover an genuine human emotional tenderness and sympathy for women that pixeled audio-visual depictions would never impart.

Your final sentence is doubleplus ridiculous. You obviously know nothing about sex work or its customers. The hookers despise the johns and vice versa. The last Bush administration was supposed to have a "War on Pornography" to appease your sort. Fortunately it was derailed by 9/11.

"Hollywood's culture of degeneracy is Republicans' fault."

That is operative because they live in a world where facts don't matter.

"Do social norms reduce rape and sexual violence? Are you looking at situations where there are no social norms, which also explains why prostitution is accepted?"

It's common among the religious to believe an absence of their religion implies an absence of morality. Manginas like Bill think in a similar way.

Your sense of masculinity masks your sexual insecurity if you have to claim that being and acting like an adult casts people on one side or the other. I bet you watched Hulk Hogan when you were a kid.

I bet you pranced around in a dress when you were a kid.

"It’s become common to think that rape is about power and not about sex. No doubt. But some of it is about sex"

Better reading would be:

It's common to think that prostitution is about sex and not about power. No doubt. But some of it is about power.

It's possible that there's a relationship between sex and power. Obviously, at least for some people, otherwise nobody would have a dominance or submission fetish.

It's just Alex signaling.

The interesting thing is that even opponents of legalizing prostitution that claim prostitution is about power would have to concede, *by their own logic*, that they would expect legalizing prostitution would indeed reduce the incidence of rape. Once one accepts this correlation, the remaining policy question becomes how many rapes should we accept just to keep prostitution illegal.

Why? Porn also reduces rape. Is porn about power, too?

Interesting, but don't forget to control for the fact that sex trafficking does indeed exist, so some of those "voluntary" encounters are not as voluntary as we might wish to think...

And when prostitution is illegal that stops all human trafficking? No, it doesn't. Some theories would suggest illegal prostitution could make human trafficking worse, after all, a trafficked woman may be more afraid to go to law enforcement if she could end up in jail herself.

Indeed. It's the same problem with any black market - by making it illegal, you prevent people from being able to use law enforcement to resolve disputes, and thereby increase the level of violence surrounding the activity. Whereever you have legal markets, people can write contracts and then go to court and sue. Without that, the only mechanism is to be associated with a criminal gang that is willing to use violence.

"sex trafficking does indeed exist"

Sure just like drug trafficking exists. However, there's not really an alcohol trafficking market. Sex trafficking if influenced and increased by driving it to the black market.

The supply of alcohol and the supply of desirable legal sex have very different constraints. The use is also very different. Once I sell a bottle, I can't sell it again. I have no incentive to physically control the alcohol.

Very different constructs.

If prostitution was completely legal, there would be vastly less sex trafficking. There would be a lot more women willing to do it voluntarily and the costs associated with avoiding law enforcement would be eliminated.
There would probably still be some black market in underage prostitution, but a lot of people would just avoid getting involved with that because of the added risk.

Hazel, I get the logic. However in execution the exact opposite happens. I supported legalization until I saw the secondary effects.

Where did you see it in execution? Maybe there are some other factors involved in that particular situation.

Japan, China, and surrounding area.

US Federal Government, including DoD, has made use of legal prostitution by gov employees a criminal offense in response to trafficking.

"Human trafficking" is just a synonym for prostitution itself, with any prostitution automatically declared as "human trafficking" without evidence of coercion. It's mostly fake news.

Yes, that's a good point. Are the humans being "trafficked" actually being coerced? If there's an increase in prostitutes voluntarily coming to the country to work, that's as you would expect.


Human trafficking is anything pertaining to arbitrage of unequal endowments of human resources.
IT Programmers, Agricultural Workers, Fashion Models, Entertainment, Hospitality, etc etc. depend on head-hunters & other recruiters.

We have laws against bondage and slavery that govern these industries & professions and the same laws could govern open establishments providing prostitution & sex work services.

Imagine illegal immigrants working in bondage / slave-like conditions farming & harvesting tomatoes. Do we ban tomatoes because they have been picked & processed in an inhumane way by workers exploited as slaves?

Transparency will allow legitimate non-exploitative tomato farms to compete. Any legitimate prostitutes in their employ can protest and complain about the violation their rights. Periodic inspections can assure that the only prostitutes are in their employment are legitimate and public brothels will as wary about risking their business to being shut down for violations as many bars & nightclubs are about selling alcohol to minors, knowing that they are also subject to enforcement. If it's all out in the open, it will be easier to enforce. Also most clients will prefer to patronize establishments that are safe and legitimate, depriving the black market and the most exploitative networks of exploitative human trafficking their revenue.



But certainly worth an experiment to study the impact....
Much better than ideologically driven notion that Prostitution is inherently and inevitably Slavery.

How many trafficked women have been found in legal Nevada brothels, I wonder. Betting on zero

To varying extents I agree. We have a concept of wage slavery without even going into something far more more nefarious.

There is evidence that legalized prostitution leads to a significant increase in human trafficking. While reported rapes may be down, the unreported rape of essentially slaves may be up.


"Our empirical analysis for a cross-section of up to 150 countries shows that the scale effect dominates the substitution effect. On average, countries where prostitution is legal experience larger reported human trafficking inflows."

The Swedish and German experience seems to show that it is harder to find trafficked women when law enforcement has to differentiate between the legal and the trafficked ones. Also, if prostitution is legal it becomes vastly harder to convict traffickers. Sweden has taken the counter-intuitive option of decriminalizing the sale of sex but making it illegal to purchase.

This means that police can arrest pimps at will. Prostitutes can freely rat out bad Johns and traffickers, again at no risk.

Well, i dont have access to that paper so i can only comment on the summary, but i few things stand out. 1) larger *reported* human trafficking might just mean more reporting. 2) How much larger? 3) none of this says anything about the nature of the trafficking. Sort of assumed here is that trafficking = bad for women, sex slavery, but i have no idea if they prove that in any way. You could easily argue that there is trafficking, but the participants are willing.

I treat a huge number of prostitutes every year. The obscene minority of them are ever "willing" in anything but the manner in which addicts are "willing" to get the next hit. Having made a number of reports of trafficking the real world is just a bit different than you imagine.

The typical setup I see is something like this: woman in third world is promised a job doing something mildly salacious like dancing or waiting tables in a gentleman's club, sometimes stripping. She is smuggled into the country. Once in country her documentation is taken and she is told that she is now a prostitute. If she objects, various levels of coercion are used to gain her compliance. Ones I have seen include forcible intercourse (aggravated rape), forcible sodomy (inanimate penetration), burning, scarification, starvation, water deprivation, beating, scalding, ipecac administration, narcotics administration, sleep deprivation, blackmail, and of course more threats than I could possibly list. Typically she comes to see me because the cops are suspicious enough that this is not just normal prostitution to bust her and in the course of the arrest they find wounds needing my services. The other common setup is that she comes, is given large amounts of addicting substances (e.g. heroine, cocaine, benzos) and becomes an addict. Once sufficiently addicted she experiences severe withdrawal and is instructed on how she can receive her fix. If she is prevented from getting her fix, like say when the cops incarcerate her, she may end up seeing me if she goes into delirium tremens.

Don't kid yourself, most trafficked women hate what is done to them and merely knowing that the above are things done to their fellow trafficked women makes me doubt that any of them are not being "coerced".

The progression I have seen is something like this: cops note that some prostitute is doing things differently than the typical prostitutes (e.g. charging significantly less for various sex acts, not using protection, does not speak English), they bust her on prostitution, during processing they find signs of trauma (e.g. broken collarbones, rectal scarring, cigarette burn marks) and bring her to me for a full evaluation (we get most of the prison cases), I and a nurse do a full physical and explain exactly what we know and how she can care for things (I have a whole speech about improvised lube), legal magic happens so that we can document our findings to the court (e.g. the patient signs off, court order). I then file some paperwork. I then get to detail what I concluded such as: what instrument was used, how violently it was used, and which orifice(s) it penetrated. I have not yet had to go to trial because pretty quickly the traffickers cut a deal knowing a jury would crucify their sorry asses should the DA get to have a field day asking about what causes certain forms of rectal trauma the minimum frequency at which it occurred.

What happens if prostitution is legal? Well when I worked in Europe I was told that the answer is basically nothing. Cops suspect that the woman is trafficked, but they cannot compel her to come in for treatment. They cannot get a court order allowing a highly intrusive examination nor allow the results of that to be admitted as evidence. Instead the traffickers say "That devious devil, she lied to us that she was not an immigrant, we only just rent them the rooms and would never coerce anyone." The John's could not care less and will not testify that about weird crap that they notice. If she gets out of line, the pimps can just threaten to call the cops themselves and say "We are shocked to learn that she is illegal and want her off our premises forthwith." The only one with objective evidence of crimes hanging against them is the trafficked woman.

And this is not exactly rocket science. It is far easier to hide illicit activities inside a forest of similar licit ones. Teen alcohol use is highly illegal with obnoxious fines and regular sting operations at distributers. Yet in countries where alcohol itself is illegal, you have far lower rates of teen alcohol use. When you can arrest anyone with alcohol it is much easier to stop the teens. Same thing here.

So yeah, trafficking pretty much is bad for women and sex slavery. If you have actual evidence as to why my experience is substantially atypical, let me know. But otherwise I have seen too much what it does to women and it is pretty terrible.

> If you have actual evidence as to why my experience is substantially atypical, let me know.
> I treat a huge number of prostitutes every year.

By your own description, your sample is highly biased. Obviously you're only seeing subjects that need medical treatment. You're completely disregarding the population that doesn't need treatement. And even though you may treat a "huge number", you have no calibration about what percent of the broader population this represents.

Consider an ER doc that specializes in alcohol poisoning, but otherwise has no other personal exposure to alcohol or alcohol consumption. His naive consumption may be that alcohol is an extremely dangerous substance that nearly kills almost everybody who uses it. But that's only because he has no interaction with the vast majority of social non-problem drinkers.

I'm claiming the same thing for prostitution and your experience. It really could be that your experience is typical. But your account doesn't offer anything but extremely weak evidence, because of the biased nature of your sampling.

Doug: highly unlikely. SOP is for any woman suspected of being trafficked to get a medical evaluation because so many of them have either chemical dependence issues or evidence of violence that can be used in court. My sample is not the sick trafficked, my sample is the trafficked who get arrested.

Note your idle speculation from someone with no experience here is not a particularly good guide. Maybe there are legions of happily trafficked women, but the beta on "there are a significant number of trafficked women happy about their condition" is astronomically low.

You are still only getting the women suspected of being trafficked. So out of the pool that the police suspect of being trafficked, there's likely a pretty high percentage who were, in fact, trafficked, in a coercive way that is. The cops aren't sending you the hookers who they think are willing.

"Also, if prostitution is legal it becomes vastly harder to convict traffickers"

Why? If they are forcing the women into sex slavery, they could be convicted of that and the women would seem to be more likely to speak to the police if they werent criminals themselves.

Again, it would come down to your definition of 'trafficking'. Forced prostitution or willing arrangement?

Decriminalizing the sale of prostitution is the idea behind getting the women to flip. That is the whole Swedish model. The Johns, the pimps, and the traffickers can be ratted out by the women if they ever step too far out of line. All of the data I have seen suggests that this works the best of all the policies yet tried.

Decriminalizing pimping and the purchase of sex makes it vastly harder to arrest the traffickers on any other charge (where these cases normally begin). When you decriminalizing prostitution you are not letting them do what they have always gotten away with. You are letting them push the boundaries of enforceable crimes further out.

I suspect that they can freely rat out traffickers at no risk, but at least at little risk of being prosecuted for a crime. But someone who is paying extortion money to the Mafia, say, has little legal risk in reporting the extortion to the authorities. That doesn't mean that they face no risk in doing so. Already there are a bunch of neighborhoods in the US where people will not testify in court against murderers whom they witnessed in the act of killing. I don't think legalizing prostitution in the US would interact well with the culture of "no snitches".

If prostitution is legal, the traffickers have to be proven to have trafficked. That means that the woman must demonstrate that she is legally more credible than her traffickers. They get to say, no we hired her as a legitimate prostitute we no idea she was a drug addicted illegal immigrant with a penchant for violent sex. Basically it always becomes a he said/she said that is very hard to clear evidentiary standards.

Because she is technically an illegal alien, she however, is 100% certain of being guilty of a crime. So the power differential lies heavily stacked against her.

In contrast, when prostitution is illegal it is trivial to show that her traffickers committed pimping and other crimes. You can use that minor crime as probable cause to get warrants and court orders to go digging for evidence for bigger crimes like trafficking. She and her traffickers start off equally illegal before the law.

The Swedish approach is to decriminalize the sale of sex. Now her traffickers and the Johns start off deficient compared to her. This has the best evidence of reducing trafficking shockingly. It keeps the market denormalized enough that it does not grow to huge scale and it keeps the boundaries of enforceable crime close enough that you can easily enforce antitrafficking.

I guess what I was saying is that in the US, traffickers will simply execute prostitutes who go to the police, and given the low clearance rates on murder in the US (and the even lower conviction rates) legalizing prostitution in the US will not put prostitutes in a position where they can safely "snitch" on their pimps or traffickers. Assuming that you are Swedish, I would say to kudos to you and your country for having a stronger criminal justice system than the US.

Yes. The lack of legal protection for illegal aliens plus also drugs and the illegality of that and that means that the woman will be unlikely to seek help from the authorities. So you end up with the same problems because you still haven't freed the people engaged in prostitution to access the legal system.
So it's not so much that legal prostitution increases trafficking, it's legal prostitution in the context of other black markets such as drugs and illegal immigration. If there was a law which, for example, protected victims of sex trafficking from deportation that might change the power differential.


We keep hearing that if we only eliminated one more black market, crime would go away. Alcohol, marijuana, prostitution, etc. In spite of legalizing both drugs and prostitution, The Netherlands and Portugal have somehow managed to keep around black markets.

The truth is that criminals have been among us always and will always be among us. Having a prostitute who is scared, drug addicted, and afraid of coercion is pretty much always going to be cheaper than paying a market clearing rate for a more ethical alternative. I mean seriously people traffic women just to be domestic help throughout the world.

There are already laws to protect the victims of sex trafficking, the problems are: first the women have to know about the law and how to access it and second they have to prove that they are trafficked and not just scamming a free visa.

As always, when you legalize things you are not making it so people will do what just what they have been doing in the black market legitimately. You expand the boundaries of unenforceable behavior. Right now if a cop thinks a prostitute is too young, trafficked, or whatever additional crime looks to be happening he can use the illegality of prostitution as probable cause. Once you get rid of that, it becomes much harder to police. There is a reason why places like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. have such trouble putting a dent in trafficking and child prostitution compared to similar countries that do not have legalized prostitution.

You can argue that it is worth it to have more women trafficked as evidence has shown with legalization. You can argue that making child prostitution harder to police is worth it. But let's live in the real world and at least be honest that there are costs to policy changes.

Sure, we don't have slaves picking cotton any more. How do you explain that? If it's easier to enslave a woman to work as a prostitute so as to avoid paying her a market clearing wage, surely the same economic logic applies to any other occupation. Why not kidnap people and put them to work in slave factories?
As far as domestic help is concerned the vast majority of domestic help IS voluntary contrary to your beliefs about prostitution. What's the difference? If most international domestic help is willing, why assume that most international prostitutes are coerced?

And if eliminating all coerced sex trafficking is the goal, is it worth it to criminalize a whole class of voluntary consenting actors for the sake of that? Should we make the hiring of live-in domestic help illegal so as to reduce the demand for women trafficked to be domestic help?


Depends on how you want to look at it. Criminal forced labor, debt peonage, and many other things that we currently hold to be slavery maintained non-voluntary workforces on the cotton plantations at below market clearing wages for decades. Arguably cotton got out of the forced labor racket only when mechanization became cheaper than the black market.

The black market does exist for manual labor today. I mean a few million people are held in debt peonage in India to make bricks. Even in the US there are domestic workers who are coerced into staying on the job. Certainly part of the draw of illegal immigrant employment is the ability to coerce labor that cannot have easy recourse to the courts.

Such "ending of slavery" as happened occurred because the British, and later the Americans, hanged the slavers and the slave traders. In the Ottoman Empire, Persia, most of Africa itself, and even large parts of the New World slavery remained economically viable up until the dominant powers of the world opted to set military power loose to eradicate slavery in a religious crusade. Unless we want to base a whole lot of foreign policy on explicitly religious morality and enforce that religious morality on others who disagree, I think it unlikely that we will make significant headway.

Sure we can argue about the tradeoffs of ending making occupations illegal vs making enforcement easy. The point is these are all tradeoffs. Saying that rape decreases without (as far as my skimming saw) even considering the possibility of simply redistributing the rapes onto people less likely to report it is not exactly an argument ending study.

Having more experience with this sort of thing, armchair generals like you strike me as not even beginning to understand the scope of the problem. Somewhere there are the mythical prostitutes who love their job; they just magically never need treatment. In spite of treating thousands of them, I have yet to meet a SINGLE prostitute who objectively enjoyed her job in the privacy of the exam room. I mean seriously, how many prostitutes do you personally know? How many have you had professional experience dealing with? The handful that write articles and lobby are nothing like the many, many drug addicted ones who literally halve their life expectancy that I see.

Because frankly all I am seeing here is the pushing of social pathologies from people who go to the police onto people who cannot. Trying to enter utopia with a multitude of society wide reforms being your solution is the best sort of evidence that this is bad policy. If you cannot make it work without reforming ever wider swathes of society you have a dream, not a policy.

Immigration law could be a factor. If the women came to the US voluntarily, but without documentation, they would remain afraid to go to the police to report abuse, so they could be more easily forced into prostitution. This may be a common tactic of sex traffickers - offer women the chance to be smuggled into the country to work in (say) a club as a dancer or something, and then force them into prostitution once they get here.

The key question here is why don't these women just go to the police?

There's a lot of sanctuary cities to test your theory on.

The amount of actual protection your going to get from the cops in a sanctuary city is still pretty questionable.

Notice the following:

1) Single cross-section
2) No identification strategy (selection on observables)
3) Questionable data sources.

I wouldn't put much stock in this study. IT wouldn't meet minimum standards of credible causal effects in any other area of labor, so why should it here?

Thanks for sharing this article.

That scale effect outweighs substitution effect isn't entirely surprising & is persuasive.

I had imagined the "demand" for prostitution would be mostly inelastic, with somewhat of an increase in business volume, but not expecting that human trafficking would also increase.

Here is one.

Really all you have to do is google Human trafficking and Prostitution.

There is a clear causal link between legalization and increased trafficking.

There's a _lot_ of stuff out there that effectively equates all prostitution with trafficking. For example, the paper you link starts their methodology section with "Taking a gender-based approach in my textual analysis, I examine developed and developing nations to determine: why sex trafficking has increased with globalization and what would be the best practice to ameliorate sex slavery.1"

I'm not filled with confidence that the author's textual analysis will result in a particularly reliable estimate of actual sex trafficking, or whether the focus will be on "he commodification of the female (and child) body through the mass media" with the assumption that _all_ prostitution is se trafficking.

This is a great example of why it's damaging to conflate all prostitution with sex trafficking in the first place. It really results in a lack of clarity in the debate and obscures how much actual coerced sex slavery exists.
The people who started that really harmed the credibility of all research on sex trafficking.

It's anything but "clear". The Cho, et al. article is severely inadequate. Just read it. See my other post.

Alex, you're straying dangerously close to BadThink!

Here's your primer, repeat after me.

Sex has nothing to do with rape.
Sex has nothing to do with gender
Sex has nothing to do with hormones
Sex has nothing to do with differential abilities
Sex has nothing to do anything

Sex is not a thing. Sex is an amorphous word used to describe many things, none of which are real.

Evidently sex has everything to do with differential abilies: some people are better at it than other people, ergo they are differentiated.

The worst part about political bubbles aren't the strawmen, its the horrible attempts at satirical humour.

Do these bubbles make smart people make dull jokes? Or do they just attract dull unfunny people?

The latyer

Yes the latter.

So that is what America has become: a place where legalized indoor prostitution is the only hope of fighting rape.

Not one comment stated or implied this.

You might want to seek truth a little harder.

"We exploit the fact that a Rhode Island District Court judge unexpectedly decriminalized indoor prostitution in 2003 to provide the first causal estimates of the impact of decriminalization on the composition of the sex market, rape offenses, and sexually transmitted infection outcomes. Not surprisingly, we find that decriminalization increased the size of the indoor market. However, we also find that decriminalization caused both forcible rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence to decline for the overall population."

Such is life in America.

The incorrect part of your statement was "the only hope."

No one, anywhere, at any time, and certainly not in America, has stated or implied that legalized prostitution is "the only hope" for reducing rapes. It is demonstrable that America analyzes and implements many different strategies with varying degrees of effectiveness.

If there are several policies that are cost-effective at reducing rape, shouldn't they all be tried?

Your repeated denigration of America for discussing one possible policy prescription as the only policy prescription demonstrates you have no intellectual honesty.

What is the price point for these men to choose rape over prostitution? It may be rational to choose prostitution if lawful over rape which is unlawful but not at any price. At some level the price charged by a prostitute has to exceed the perceived risk of punishment for rape. How do prostitutes set their price? Supply and demand? If prostitution is lawful, I would assume the supply would be greater and, hence, the price lower, although a lower price might reduce the supply. What's the equilibrium? Should prostitution be lawful but regulated (e.g., for health reasons)? Should the price be regulated? Should peak pricing be permitted? Should children be permitted to be, or use the services of, a prostitute? Don Zaluchi: "I, too, don't believe in prostitution. For years I paid my people extra to stay away from that sort of stuff, but someone comes along saying, I've got prostitutes where if you put up a three to four thousand dollar investment, you can make fifty thousand distributing, then there is no way to resist it. I want to keep it respectable. I don't want it near schools. I don't want it sold to children! That's an infamia. In my city, we'd keep the traffic to the Dark People, the Coloreds - they're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls."

Attempting to model deviant male sexual behavior in a rational choice framework is a fruitless exercise.

Men who rape and men who patronize prostitutes are acting impulsively, not rationally.

As opposed to other criminals, who are known for the logic and restraint?

Adam, you're overlooking an obvious as-if model. Such models are a mainstay of economics. It doesn't matter if any particular criminal behaves rationally as long as the population of criminals respond to incentives in a predictable fashion. They act AS-IF they are following a rational, conscious, informed, decision making process.

Clearly some men will prefer rape even if prostitutes were free for them. But that's not the issue. The issue is whether legalized prostitution reduces rape or not. In considering whether to implement legalized prostitution, this would be one of the benefits to consider.

There's been a society wide decrease in rape, not just in areas with red zones. I suspect a lot of it has to do with the wide and easy availability of pornography. This is sort of consistent with the hydraulic pressure theory of male sexuality, and if you drain off the ... hydraulic fluid ... by some mechanism, there is less pressure towards rape activity.

But there is also evidence that pornography is a gateway and motivator of sexual predation. It is part and parcel of child molestation. I'm not taking one side or the other here. Just saying there are competing theories that make superficial sense.

This nation bans child pornography for a reason.

'It’s become common to think that rape is about power and not about sex.'

Well, not since date rape became an acknowledged and recognizable style of rape -

But that was a generation ago, so no surprise it is apparently being overlooked here now.

Prostitution is also often about power as much as sex. You always have more power over an employee than you do a volunteer.

Really? I always thought it was about paying for sex. Though there is that trope about a man paying for nothing more than a sympathetic ear, which also does not seem to be about power, primarily.

There's also the old trope about paying a prostitute to do things your wife won't.

Sure, but that is about paying for sex, generally. (I think it best to leave BDSM out of this discussion, as that gets very tangled very fast - the only person I know who really enjoys that has a very different framework about what she enjoys and wants than makes much sense to me)

The traditional sex act being paid for involving oral sex, though it has been more than a generation since anyone much cared about that.

oops - 'doesn't make much sense to me'

There is a power aspect to any commercial relationship.

When looked at through a certain lens, all human relationships are about power.

Or at least they can be treated in such a reductionist manner if one so desires.

That's true. But in the service industry, it's much more overt. That's why the waiter calls you sir.

This pretty much only broadly happens in the U.S., where tipping replaces the wages as common in most of the rest of the industrial world for those who wait on tables in restaurants.

I doubt that's true, but since you insist on being dense, here's an example of my original point:

"I don't want them to get any pleasure," he told me. "I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated."

To be honest, I don't think most men buying a blow job are buying it because it gives them a feeling of power. Maybe this joke, from a male recipient's perspective, will help -
Q - What is the best blow job in the world?
A - The one you are getting right now.

Prostitution is mainly about sex, and always has been.Of course other elements can be thrown into the mix - see the point about BDSM and how tangled that gets.

I thought the trope was you aren't paying for the sex, you're paying for her to leave right after.

prohibition (as opposed to regulation) of sex markets (or of any voluntary exchange for that matter) is a great example of a "legal failure":

Accordingly in human government also, those who are in authority rightly tolerate certain evils, lest certain goods be lost, or certain evils be incurred: thus Augustine says [De ordine 2.4]: If you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed with lust.'

It is amazing how long it takes some people to discover what everyone has always known.

We should also legalize murder lest the world be convulsed with hatred (or at least terrorism lest the world be convulsed with Jihaddism). Also legalize crack lest the world be convulsed with lust for crack.

We already have legalized. They're called "war" and "capital punishment."

The word murder has an actual meaning. Unless you want the world to know you are an incurious dolt, you should look up that meaning before discussing that word.

Can anyone explain to me the power rather than sex part? As far as I can tell the theory came out of feminist lit and was developed with zero emperical evidence or even a bare bones attempt to justify it with real study methods. Has it subsquently received more emperical backing? Or are we talking in circles about something that is "not even wrong" and therefore a religious/ideological percept that only stunts human knowledge and real solutions?

'As far as I can tell the theory came out of feminist lit and was developed with zero emperical evidence'

Read more, then. For example, when the Red Army went on its rape campaign while conquering Germany - - it was about much more than sex.

Yes, we can agree that the Red Army rapes had other motives, like vengeance for the attempted genocide. It's not relevant to the question.

That's not emperical evidence. In fact, I'm not sure what it even tells us. I am familiar with history and the common plunder and rape of cities/tribes/etc throughout history. Considering our genetics, it could be thought of as a sexual selection stragety considering it's remarkable prevelance and "success". I believe I saw a study about it being very common in tribal socities in regards to what happens to other groups after warfare.

'That’s not emperical evidence'

Really? Well, what would be an example of empirical evidence that would meet your exacting standards if the largest recorded number of rapes in a specific time and place don't count?

You don't know what "empirical" means.

Does anyone even really think that rape isn't about sex at all, ever? Or is that kind of a caricature or a strawman?

Lefty journalists have been saying just that for decades.

Do they really think that, or are they just parroting what the Dems tell them to say... hard to tell these days, but it doesn't really matter.

Or maybe the righty journalists are parroting what they say the lefty journalists are saying, or cherry picking the stupidest comments of the left.

It seems as if I misread, so the last paragraph from that article may be more relevant - 'Even if the feminist definition of rape purely as an act of violence proves to be simplistic, there is no justification for male complacency. If anything, the events of 1945 reveal how thin the veneer of civilisation can be when there is little fear of retribution. It also suggests a much darker side to male sexuality than we might care to admit.'

'Does anyone even really think that rape isn’t about sex at all, ever?'

This guy does, but only because he is a historian - 'Domination and humiliation permeated most soldiers' treatment of women in East Prussia. The victims not only bore the brunt of revenge for Wehrmacht crimes, they also represented an atavistic target as old as war itself. Rape is the act of a conqueror, the feminist historian Susan Brownmiller observed, aimed at the "bodies of the defeated enemy's women" to emphasise his victory.'

Of course, the actual title of the article is ''They raped every German female from eight to 80,' and it is 15 years old.

Hazel, it's been a shibboleth in the US at least since I was a teenager*, the reason, obviously, being the Sexual Revolution - sex is an unalloyed good for newly-liberated women, so rape had to be redefined to be as distant from sex as possible - and the all-purpose language of power was conveniently at hand.

Well, yeah, I'm aware of it as a shibboleth. I'm just not sure that many people really take it all that seriously. If pressed, I imagine email that everyone except perhaps a few hard core feminists would say obviously rape is largely about sex.

'obviously rape is largely about sex'

Except for when it isn't - as the Red Army (including Soviet women apparently watching and laughing at the actions of the male compatriots raping German women) demonstrated on a truly massive scale at the end of WWII.

"If pressed, I imagine email that everyone except perhaps a few hard core feminists would say obviously rape is largely about sex."

Good luck convincing Alex "rape is about power and not about sex, no doubt" Tabbarock to say that. But didn't you know that those creationists, if pressed, would admit that they don't really believe in creationism? After all, they are part of my Tribe and thus couldn't possibly be unreasonable. In fact, the Left is being unreasonable by taking what they say literally.

"Does anyone even really think that rape isn’t about sex at all, ever?"

And has anyone here said that they said that? You're the one erecting a strawman here Hazel, being a concern troll in an attempt to derail the conversation.

Huh? How is the entire subthread not a distraction from the main topic - prostitution reducing rape? You'd rather bitch about some aged feminist shibboleth than discuss legalized protitution?

It may be tangential - but if something so fundamental to feminism was based on a mass pretense, it calls into question what other tenets of feminism might also be inventions - and some of those might be even more at play in questions surrounding prostitution, and more generally in men's attitudes toward women - and possibly even in shaping those attitudes.

I don't know about you, but it would have been unthinkable to me, circa 1980, when "Charlie's Angels" was considered a relic, the most backward thing on TV, that decades after we all became feminists, there would be TV shows where homely women would compete to have plastic surgery - or women who'd already had plastic surgery would compete amid rivers of mascara tears to get a rose from Brad.

Do we really know rapes are reduced? If the ones being raped are the prostitutes themselves, that might not appear in the statistics. If you're a prosecutor, are you going to waste time with a rape complaint from a prostitute? Your chance of getting a conviction is so low that you'd be wasting the resources of your department. More prostitutes means more women that can be raped without fear of downstream consequences.

Wasting the resources of his department is a big part of the prosecutor's work but he has to pad his resume' if he wants to be a governor.

Everyone is a venal, cynical opportunist. Except good ol' chuck martel here.

Why would a prostitute lie about being raped? Filing a criminal false report and destroying your source of income at the same time seems pretty risky for uncertain gain

What difference does it make? If the defendant claims she was a prostitute and she was, the chance of a conviction is so low it's not worth the cost of prosecution.

Why? You keep saying that and not supporting it.

"Why would a prostitute lie about being raped?"

Same reasons anyone else would -- revenge, blackmail, etc.

For example, back while my grandfather was a talent scout for the then Brooklyn Dodgers, he saw a woman hitchhiking and picked her up.

His reward was to be told she was a prostitute...and he could patronize her or be falsely accused of raping her.

His response was to pull over and advise her to get out while she could still walk.

Interesting. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine made a similar argument for keeping prostitution legal, even while condemning it as a great moral evil:

"Now although God is all-powerful and supremely good, nevertheless He allows certain evils to take place in the universe, which He might prevent, lest, without them, greater goods might be forfeited, or greater evils ensue. Accordingly in human government also, those who are in authority, rightly tolerate certain evils, lest certain goods be lost, or certain greater evils be incurred: thus Augustine says (De Ordine ii, 4): 'If you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed with lust.'"

Aquinas has already been mentioned.

Add Emmanuel Swedenborg to the list of religious thinkers who've made this argument.

Correction: not prostitution per se, but better to take a mistress if lust cannot be contained.

He also criticized harshy Calvin, Luther and Melanchthon.

So, we've got Sex and we've got Power - and that's it, there is nothing else to human relations?

You mean as rape goes?

Well, I was thinking more about the management of sexual frustration, which seemed to be where the comments were tending, as one would expect ... Anyway, I constructed a reply in which I tried to convey what I meant, and then canned it when I remembered that when either feminists or libertarians discuss (straight) male sexuality, I become bewildered, because few men of my acquaintance resemble the reductionist caricature on offer. It's my error, probably, in how I've peopled my small world. Carry on.

Well, people for whom there is nothing else but (or little else but) sex and power to human relations, probably are more likely to resort to rape (I am pretty sure the paper mentioned rape) as a way to manage sexual frustration. As far as I understand, saying there is a statistical link between sexual frustration and rape is not the same as saying every sexually frustrated person resorts to rape.

You're right, but should the mainstream be shifted or widened to accommodate the small number of men who are rapists, no matter their motivation? Maybe so. Commenters above have presented some thoughtful pros and cons and real-world effects they've noticed. I would have thought that, if sexual frustration is the culprit, the easy availability of sex post-Sexual-Revolution, compared to the past, should have practically eliminated rape, much more so than the legalization or not of prostitution.

It's interesting that as sex becomes more and more commonplace, meaningless, and ubiquitous, rape is simultaneously getting steadily more prominent and feared in the public mind.

@peri: when was sex ever not commonplace and ubiquitous? How do you suppose the species has endured?

"You’re right, but should the mainstream be shifted or widened to accommodate the small number of men who are rapists, no matter their motivation?"

Probably not (I am not even defending the legal prostituion->fewer rapes, although instead of accommodaringbrapists, I woukd think ofmit as accommodating possible targets of rape), I think no one defends legalized prostitution ONLY as a way to prevent rapes, but, I am sure, ceteris paribus, fewer rapes are better than more rapes. It may be a controversial position, but I stand for it. That ceteris paribus is never reacheable is true about prostitution, abstinence educarion, school prayers, lower/higher taxes, etc.

"’Is interesting that as sex becomes more and more commonplace, meaningless, and ubiquitous, rape is simultaneously getting steadily more prominent and feared in the public mind."

Maybe the victims are simply more cared about as opposedmto the "she probably deserved it" school of thought? Is rape becoming a more frequent crime?

Oh, msgkings, not sex itself, its lopsided representation (or replacement?) in the culture. Sorry to have perplexed you.

So you think it's simply that it's more spoken about, now that there's more concern - though, ironically, there's a little bit less to be concerned about, in terms of unwanted babies - and an end to blaming the victim; and there's not actually more hysteria about rape. (Rape has evidently shown the same declined as other violent crimes.) You may be right, and presently, as the novelty of our compassion and enlightenment wears off, rape victims will be of no particular interest. That is, if we've really shed all the baggage of the past, and it can be reduced to a simple assault, sex deserving no great power over the imagination anymore.

I apologize, Truth Seeker, if I sound insensitive to you. Something in your tone makes me think you find me so. Full disclosure: I have never been raped, and indeed only once in my life was I in peril of it.

Just because there isn't more crime, it does not mean there is no hysteria (quite the opoosite, that is more or less what hysteria means). But the point seems to be, simply, that Americans have finally decided that rape is a serious crime. Better late than never.

You mean Alex doesn't want to get called in by the human resources department if he disagrees with feminist dogma?

Money, of course.

Money is power. As famous Chinese communist reformer Deng Xiaoping may have said, "to get rich is glorious!".

You can have power without having money. I'd guess that most rapists do not have much money, Weinstein being an obvious exception.

Money is a form of power, nothing more."

‘Definite quantities of product, these quantities being determined by experience,
now represent nothing but definite quantities of labour, definite masses of
crystallised labour-time’- Karl Marx

As famous British prime minister Margareth Thatcher pointed out, "no-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well." As famous Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong taught, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun". To get guns, one needs money to buy or make guns - or needs to steal guns. A thief can steal money, too.

You know, some economist should study, or will soon study,


The introduction of inflatable humanoid dummies

With which you can have sex

Reduces rape.

And I'm sure the manginas will demand they be banned, of course they are unlikely to follow that particular law as they wait in agony for a woman to notice their virtue and reward them with sex.

Why don't you go back play with Supermario? He will never deny you sex.

Wow cool, that goes against everything I have heard about rape. Glad I've been a libertarian all along.

Does slavery reduce the incidence of kidnapping too?

(Not that I equate prostitution with slavery, but people who think prostitution is inherently wrong might)

According to General Kelly, rape is the result of her refusal to compromise.

There is no substance to the rape=power argument. Proponents of that view have never rigorously defined "power" much less found empirical measures of it. Their assertion is not falsifiable. The word "power" can and does mutate to fit any observation.

If not power, then what?!

I'm not dismissing the "power" argument out of hand. I'm merely saying its proponents have never rigorously defined and analyzed it. It is typical wishy washy amateur punditry pretending to be science.

The more likely and obvious explanation is that rapists want sex. The second most likely explanation, and Co-explanator with sex, is violence. One might define "violence" as a form of "power," but this must be defined in a rigorous way and applied equally everywhere to other acts of violence. But then we might lose contrast between "violence" and "power" to the point we can't make meaningful descriptions and predictions.

And of course violence can be just a part of sexual pleasure. Sexual enjoyment is very much a product of the mindset of the moment and personal preferences over mindsets. Some prefer love, tenderness and affection. Others desire to procreate. Others prefer dominance or submission. Others find forbidden fruit the sweetest. So then we really aren't talking about power or violence or love, but rather just different types of sex. It boils down to desirable chemical responses in the brain from a particular activity.

The big question I have for this sort of thing is always the timescale.

Suppose you were a kid raised during prohibition. You are assured that repealing prohibition would have minor effects as everyone drank illicitly anyways and if we just made booze legal nothing would happen.

So prohibition is repealed. There is still a general social consensus against drunkenness and codes of conduct about when and how to drink.

But then come the 60s. Kids socialized from the 40s grow up and are less moored by the past taboos against intoxication. They dive into drugs and figure that the social restraints against smoking, drinking, and dancing are also old hat, so they start experimenting with drugs and free love.

So society basically gives up on trying to police light drug use (basically never arresting users and letting even a lot of dealers off) and only moral scolds remain against premarital sex.

The 80s hit and the kids of the 60s now discover crack, and hey why not? Free love with a few friends in college becomes a giant free for all that facilitates the largest sexually transmitted epidemic in history. Millions die.

The late 90s/early 2000s say that ehh drugs are not that bad, why are we being such sticklers about opioids? If you liberalize the prescription guidelines and get rid of this stupid social stigma on becoming dependent ... well that would be better for everyone ... until of course we end up people literally dying in the streets when they use heroine because it is cheaper.

Each step along the way was not that much worse than what came before. Each step showed minimal pathology until a future generation lacking experience with the old taboos came into its own. It may indeed be correct that making prostitution freely available and removing the social stigma is a good thing, but it is also possible that the generation that grows up with unlimited sex on demand with no stigmas may have to go through their own traumas and growing pains. Maybe you think we could legalize prostitution and keep some of the taboos intact ... well good luck. It certainly has not worked with alcohol which in living memory was fully banned. It certainly has not worked with opioids. I suspect when you normalize prostitution to be just another business, it will ultimately undermine a bunch of social taboos.

And I am also sure that the vast majority of people will be okay without them. But like with HIV, opioids, and the like I suspect there will be people who will not or cannot exercise restraint and a tiny small minority will be sacrificed for the comforts of the majority. It happened before and it will happen again.

I wonder which one VR will reduce more: rape or marriage.

I'd like to introduce my new company: Puber: A Vagina-Sharing platform.

At any given time there are a lot of empty vaginas in circulation. At the same time there is a lot of demand by individuals to fill these vaginas. However, due to inefficiencies in communication the latter have a difficult time of finding the former and some of the latter get desperate and engage in anti-social, destructive behavior.

That's where my platform enters the picture.

If you happen to have an underused vagina at your disposal and fit our qualifications just sign up set your fees, kinks, and times and you'll have clients in no time!

Not only do you make money, you'll help reduce the incidence of rape in your community! Money and good works, what could be better!

Puber: When we Come Together we can Change the World!

That's step 1. Then there's the nudge. You're automatically enrolled when you are 18. Then of course it proceeds to the socialist stage, where it's a right. Everyone's entitled to your v.....

Paging J. Neil Schulman on the white courtesy phone....

Congrats to Alex for raising a truly interesting topic. So many contradictions here.

You'd expect the Dems to be all for legalized prostitution, as in falls neatly within their endlessly repeated beliefs that "women's bodies are their own" and also their unstated belief that just about everything should legalized, regulated and taxed for the good of the State.

However, while they will summon 1000 drones to march overnight in support of weed and anyone who has to wait in line more than 15 minutes for their abortion.... it's absolute crickets on this subject.

They certainly do not believe that while legalizing weed will NEVER lead to problems with other illegal drugs, legalizing prostitution will CERTAINLY lead to problems with other illegal trafficking. Somehow the former is all upside, but the latter is all downside? No chance they believe this.

So what is it? The best answer I've heard is that (1) prostitution just annoys the hell out of too many Dem women who vote, due to their fear of status loss, and that (2) for Dem politicians, it's about internet control. Prostitution is online these days, and Dems love to shout "trafficking!!" at each and every website, because trafficking is about the most abhorrent things there is. This opens the door to content control of the Internet, and the ability to sue ISPs for what is on their site. Nirvana for the Dems.

If there's a better explanation, speak now.

Prostitution debases and demeans human beings, cutting up society's fabric.

"This opens the door to content control of the Internet, and the ability to sue ISPs for what is on their site."
So they will sue the Republicans for trafficking, close their sites and finally go ahead with their one-world dictatorship I hear about since Clinton's (the electable one) days? Will they sue Ann Coulter and Joe Plumber for prostitution? I really do not see what is the endgame here.

"prostitution just annoys the hell out of too many Dem women who vote, due to their fear of status loss."
Okay, then. Can Americans decide already? Charles Colson used to say that leftists were soft on prostitution (even at the extremes of coerced prostitution) because they think it is so oh! liberating for women. Now I am told that Democrats actually hate prostitution because they want to control the internet and keep prostitutes down. I am pretty sure Mr. Colson knew more about prostitution than you do.

I want to comment on two research reports, one cited by Tabbarok and one cited in the comments.

First, Cho, Dreher, and Neumayer, cited in the comments. When this was released in 2013, it got a lot of criticism. To me, the biggest problem was the data they used. It was a comparison of trafficking across 150 countries, and country-wide trafficking data is crap in almost all cases. In addition, the data is defined in different ways in different countries and collected using different procedures. So even if you had good data for individual countries, you still wouldn't be able to make cross-country comparisons because you'd be comparing different things, even when the data categories have the same name. There were other criticisms, but it seems to me that the data problems were enough to invalidate the research.

Second, Ciacci and Sviatschi, cited by Tabbarok. The researchers got a more-or-less comprehensive list of sex-based businesses and used local government records to find out when the businesses opened. They then used precinct-level crime statistics to see if opening a sex-based business caused a change in sex crimes.

The researchers made a problematic assumption, which they made no effort to confirm. They assumed that all the businesses involved allow you to walk in and hire a prostitute. They included four types of businesses, but they're essentially either escort agencies or strip joints. Escort agencies are generally based on out-call; you go to their website, choose an escort, and schedule a session in a hotel or some other place. You don't walk in off the street. There are businesses that call themselves escort agencies that are essentially brothels, but whenever there's a prostitution bust in NYC, it always seems to involve an agency that consists of a website, an office, and three to four staff members. A lot of agencies don't even have an office. The business is run from the booker's cell phone.

Some strip joints offer prostitution, and some don't. Some strip joints will fire a dancer if there's evidence that she's selling sex, and the management is able to enforce the ban because the dancers don't want to deal with prostitution and will turn in any fellow dancer who is offering "extras".

So basically, the researchers are assuming that the escort agencies in the study are essentially brothels, without evidence that they are. And they're assuming that all all the strip joints have prostitutes, without evidence that they do. It's possible that the decrease in sex crimes that the researchers found is entirely due to the ability to walk into a strip joint and watch naked women dancing, and that prostitution has nothing to do with it. There's nothing in the researchers' data that rules it out.

The moral here is twofold: First, research or analysis based on national or international trafficking statistics is rubbish. Secondly, beware of clever PHD economists generating data sets on topics they don't know much about.

Thanks for the facts.

"It’s become common to think that rape is about power and not about sex."

I think it's about the power to have sex.
Sex is something men have an urge for, and women control it, and withhold it.
That is bound to spark resentment in some cases.

Prohibition of prostitution remains because women have a collective interest in maintaining a prohibition regime.

The prohibition of prostitution puts a restriction on male sexuality first and foremost such that men can only get sex via relationships, which almost always entails a transfer of resources from the male to the female in some form or another. Moreover, legalized prostitution would threaten the power-dynamics within a relationship simply by giving the male an easy and discreet option for sexual gratification outside the relationship.

Is the wife/girlfriend withholding sex to get something she wants? Why the husband/boyfriend might just pull up the Hookr app (I'm going to trademark this) if he gets frustrated. Heck, the availability of the option might make it easier for him to leave the relationship should he feel like it.

People aren't eager to explore this subject because the truth is taboo: The current law on this issue caters to female voters who, by and large, have an interest in prohibiting what has historically been a significant outlet for male sexuality.

I should add that of course it would be laughable for anyone who supports the prohibition of prostitution (feminist groups, conservative groups) to voice their real objection to the issue in the above terms. The opposition to prostitution in general has converged on one talking point -- "trafficking" -- a vague word which, when you really dig into its meaning, merely turns out to be a euphemism for prostitution in general.

There's some truth to that and maybe that's most of the reality. But it need not be.

The panglossian view of prostitution is that the prostitutes voluntarily choose to enter or exit the profession, and manage their own clients. There can even be a "pimp" who arranges dates and provides protection. The pimp need not be exploitive.

Feminists of certain types and conservatives both see prostitution as always and everywhere degrading into sexual slavery, violence toward women, and social depravity. It's like segregation - always and everywhere unequal.

This is a valid argument against legalized prostitution, but one must weigh it against the status quo ante of illegal prostitution.

Funny the "trafficked" patients I have seen include some who were given regular doses of Benzos particularly because those are addicting and withdrawal is lethal. I am sure that these woman chose to become addicted to a drug that gives a pretty crappy high and a terrible high per unit cost just because. The fact that they were smuggled across national borders of course is meaningless.

It boggles my mind that you can be so confidant that those of us who actually have professional contact with trafficking are all idiots or liars. Why exactly? How many times have you met a prostitute in your normal social circles? How often has she made less than minimum wage?

You are just like the two women Tyler debated at that Intelligence Squared debate who were all about using emotional appearl and fear-mongering about trafficking to argue against consensual prostitution. Do some instances of sex-slavery occur? Sure -- but the focus on the issue by some groups is an attempt to put hold up a wall against the idea of legalizing consensual prostitution. Organizations that campaign against "sex-trafficking" have by and large the real aim of maintaining the prohibition of consensual prostitution. They make a big stink about sex-trafficking to poison the very idea of legal prostitution.

It's not surprising that legalizing prostitution reduces rape. That's about as logical an expectation as anyone should have. The surprising finding was when it was discovered that freer access to porn reduced cheating.

I think if it saves one net rape, it should be legalized. The age of consent should be 21. People who have already been convicted of pimping should be excluded from the industry if they have committed any crimes of violence.

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