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Monday, 23 April, 2001, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Prostitution: Should it be legalised?

Legalising prostitution and collecting taxes from prostitutes could raise at least £250m a year for the Treasury, according to academic research.

The Royal Economic Society says that £770m is spent on prostitution every year, compared with the £400m Britons spend on going to the cinema.

In the Netherlands, prostitution has been recently legalised in an attempt to restrict the black economy and raise money.

Yet many critics oppose legalisation and prefer decriminalisation, as prostitutes can pay up to 80% of their earnings on fines which are also a tax.

Should prostitution be legalised for economic reasons? Is making money more important than morals?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Prostitution saved my marriage

Anonymous, USA

Prostitution saved my marriage and helped several ladies pay their rent. Once I realised that my incessant mid-life cravings could be easily and safely satisfied - I actually stopped obsessing over it and stopped lusting for my female associates. I now enjoy true freedom from lust and a happy 20-year marriage - and I owe it to knowing that sex is just a phone call away. Stop the pimps, legalise it. Morality? What male asked for this wanton role?
Anonymous, USA

It seems that governments haven't looked into the legalisation of prostitution mostly because of conservatism and the Christian constituencies that support them. The legalisation would pose problems but also a number of benefits - able to regulate health standards etc. Prostitutes -both women and men - are used and abused and legalising their trade could protect them from arbitrary arrest (they get arrested but those who go after their services don't) and from abuse by their "pimps", plus the tax benefits. Keeping the control of this sector of the economy, namely the sex trade, out of the hands of criminals could result in better lives for the people involved.
Ryan Richardson, United States

Prostitution is immoral and unethical. Society needs to realise that we are human beings who can judge between right or wrong. And prostitution is dead wrong anywhere.
Ousman Diallo, USA

We all sell our bodies in different ways for work

Andy, UK
What harm is there if someone wants to use his or her body to earn a bit of cash? We all sell our bodies in different ways for work, so let the prostitutes do the same. We should not base our laws on some people's religious doctrines.
Andy, UK

By legalising the second oldest profession in the world, you could curb the criminal element which is the real threat. It's not an admission of failure, which would mean you are imposing your values on someone else.
Andrew L, USA

At least the brothels are where the police and social services can get at them

GER, Germany (formerly UK)
In the German town where I live (c500,000 inhabitants) there are prostitutes, but unless you choose to go down the small one-way street where all the brothels are, you never are bothered by them. Also, although there are surely many, many things wrong with the German prostitution trade (the exploitation of female illegal immigrants for example), at least the brothels are where the police and social services can get at them.
GER, Germany (formerly UK)

One man's garbage is another man's treasure. Why should one person impose his/ her morals on another? Laws should not be enacted to control a persons morals. Legalise it, tax it, and make it conform to a set of regulations like any other business.
David Storey, USA

Prostitution is already legal. In your country you call it Parliament, in ours, we call it Congress.
Jim Hubbell, USA

Legalisation is not a solution, it is an admission of failure

Maj, UK
Legalisation is not a solution it is an admission of failure. Society has failed to halt the moral degradation that has over-run the streets. What is the solution? If you cannot beat them join them - typical from a society whose leaders "lead by example". Legalisation will lead to the increase of the activity.
Maj, UK

There should be a pilot project to legalise prostitution in one city. I would suggest Glasgow, where there has been a series of murders of prostitutes over the last few years. Before the moralists cry out with indignation, they should ask themselves this question: how many of these young girls who were brutally murdered would still be alive today if they had worked away from the back-alleys and in a controlled environment?
Concerned Glasgwegian, Scotland

I was under the impression that in the UK, prostitution is in fact legal and it is soliciting that is illegal, but there again I'm not a lawyer.
Peter Turland, UK

I would imagine most of the men support legalisation because they have visited prostitutes and most of the women oppose it because of a vague notion of "female liberation". We shouldn't even be having this discussion. Two consenting adults can do as they please without religious and political hindrance and without the tyranny of the majority.

We should stop seeing prostitutes as a problem

Rachel Porte, UK
Prostitution is said to be one of the oldest careers, for women, in the world. It therefore astounds me that laws and regulations have not been put in place to ensure that those women who choose to take up such an occupation are not taken better care of. We should stop seeing prostitutes as a problem. I feel the problem is those who exploit and bully these vulnerable people, namely 'pimps'.
Rachel Porte, UK

Can anyone say that prostitution is a perfectly moral act? For those who argue in favour of legalisation because it can't be stopped, no law in the world is going to stop killing or most other crimes, either. Is this reason enough to legalise it?
Giri, India

In the 21st century we should wake up to human nature and accept prostitution. A legalised and controlled industry that generates income from taxes makes more sense than wasting taxpayers' money on a crime that will never be eradicated.
Jason Martin, UK (resident in Spain)

It makes it easier to regulate

A Wood, London, UK
I'm rather fed up of people inflicting their morals on me! Prostitution is the sticky end of the skin trade, so where do you draw the line. No more Page 3 girls? Ban bikinis. I know, make women wear head to toe shawls. Either end of the scale seems a tad excessive to me, but that's just me! If you don't like it, don't do it! The advantage of legalising it (much like drugs) is that it makes it easier to regulate, and I'm all for that!
A Wood, London, UK

Yes, this is a moral issue. It is immoral for woman to sell their bodies for money whether by consent or mostly not. Child labour is deemed immoral, and likewise smoking heroin yet in both cases they could be deemed the individual's decision in part. At the end of the day the difficult comes from an individual's perception of whether this "work" is moral or immoral. This is the core of the matter. I would judge any work that involves physical/ sexual abuse as immoral.
Michael, UK

The idea of legalising prostitution has its merits. Our jails would not be constantly filled with prostitutes and pimps, hence less tax dollars we the people would have to spend to get them and hold them in prison. But in the long term, legalising prostitution could only help eliminate the dangers of prostitution if the legalisation law also included adequate protection for these prostitutes. Set a legal age for prostitution and enforce it strictly to control and eliminate the number of underage prostitutes. Prosecute strongly those "pimps" that use underage persons for prostitution. Give prostitutes the same full protection under the law as other citizens have. And yes, from a financial standpoint tax prostitution for added revenue and to help cover the costs of protecting prostitutes.
Debora, United States

Take a look at Holland here they tried make it as a "normal profession with normal working conditions, with disastrous consequences i.e. Illegal prostitutes flourished and a high trade in eastern European women. The legalised brothels are losing business to the illegal pimps, who are recruiting women from the eastern block, promising the earth and forcing them to work as prostitutes. A black market will always exist, it is exercising control that is an issue.
Dino, Netherlands

Like it or not, legal or not, prostitution has always been around and is here to stay. What is annoying is that legal powers can do too little to stop the kerb crawling or the pavement touts, female or male. Unfortunately, all too often, prostitution is the only means of earning cash. If prostitution is going to be legalised then strict regulations should be in force to protect those who offer their services and customers alike.
Hazel, UK

Why not look at the examples of places where prostitution has already been legalised. One such example is the rural counties of Nevada. The two biggest areas are some 80 miles from Las Vegas and some 60 miles from Reno, both out in the desert. Brothels there are clean safe and well regulated. The counties license the brothels and the girls, and receive tax revenue on the proceeds. The girls get a safe place to work free from physical harm. By contrast in the built-up areas of Las Vegas and Reno, where it is not legal, you find typical scenes of streetwalkers who suffer from all the abuse and harassment familiar in most cities. Seems that legalised operations are clearly the way to go.
James, USA

How can we teach our children to respect themselves and others when all the time we are removing any sense of value from what it means to be human. I fail to see how legalising prostitution will help this. In our consumer-obsessed society we should draw the line at promoting people as "product". Didn't we abolish slavery for the same reason? Whether consensual or not, we should not support laws that allow the sale of people as if buying a loaf of bread.
Stephen Clarke, UK

Frank E. Martin, USA

The sky hasn't fallen in and there are no street-walkers

Patrick, Australia
In Canberra, where I live, prostitution has been legalised with regulated brothels only allowed in industrial precincts. The sex-workers - both female AND male receive regular health check-ups and they pay their taxes. The brothels are often owned and run by the workers themselves (without the pimps and other parasites). The sky hasn't fallen in and there are no street-walkers. Legalisation of itself is no panacea for problems of drug dependency, poverty and unemployment. These are much greater systemic issues which no western society has yet to successfully deal with. But at least the police are freed to chase real criminals.
Patrick, Australia

If you want to legalise prostitution, before you vote "yes" take a trip to the Netherlands. You will see the shocking degradation of a culture which includes legalisation of prostitution, among other things. Their TV reflects a culture of moral degradation. I feel embarrassed for the Dutch people. I wouldn't wish this on any country. Elizabeth D.
Elizabeth D., Canada

Why do the Government look at the profit margin, not the issues involved. The slave trade was based on this and so is the drugs trade. Next they will want to legalise drugs so they can make a profit rather than the dealers. Women should be allowed to undertake any activity they wish so should men. Any moral issues should not be addressed by the public at large but rather by those concerned
Santa, UK

The current system, where prostitution is illegal, is inherently sexist as the hookers are jailed and fined, yet the johns are not. Their pimps are rarely hauled up before the courts either. Even if prostitution is never made legal, the laws that make it a crime should be evenly applied.

We have to be pragmatic

Roger Sayer, USA

We have to be pragmatic. Prostitution exists so ergo there's a demand for it. Not all married people (or single people for that matter) enjoy an ideal sex life with their partners. Prostitution fills a genuine need and prostitutes deserve protection from abuse - legalisation could provide this protection.
Roger Sayer, USA

Legalise it and tax it. Then use the proceeds to offer as many of the women as possible a way out of this degrading and miserable lifestyle. Surely some of them will jump at the chance to do something else.

For those who think legalising prostitution is a solution: my state has legalised it. But brothels still have problems with underage girls, drugs and violence. Only now it's even harder to stop 'cos the perpetrators can play hide-and-seek with the law. And desperate women still solicit along some streets. So I'm not sure what legislation has achieved. But then again, as long as it's profitable, who cares?
Grace, Australia

Prohibition should be made illegal.

This is not a moral issue, since consent is given by both parties; it is not an economic issue, though there may be taxable advantages for the Government; it's about treating people decently as humans. I agree with Zoe UK. When are we going to stop living in the dark ages? Get it legalised and controlled.
Josh, Scotland

Don't legalise it for health reasons, or to tax it. Legalise it because it is right and proper that free people in a free country should be able to choose what they do.
Alex, England

To deny that it occurs does not get rid of the issue

Stang, USA
In my country prostitution is illegal, but I think it has been a recognised profession for thousands of years. It should be legalised and regulated for health reasons. It may never be prestigious, but to deny that it occurs does not get rid of the issue.
Stang, USA

Prostitution has all its worst contexts. It negatively affects us in our social relationships. If it exists, it could have existed out of shame and out of guilt in the mind. To legalize it means society is accepting it as an institution and supporting the act. More degrading than legalizing is when governments take money out of the practice of prostitution. This is a form of being an accomplice to this act. Rationalizing it form making tax revenue out of it, is settling for the final power of money at all opportune moments of collecting money. Should money be the ultimate rationale for the context of our lives?
Tekestebirhan Gebremichael, USA

I think we should legalise prostitution, not because it would generate money, but it will get them off our streets and into secure houses where they could have health checks etc. We will never stamp out prostitution, this has been going on since the dark ages, but if we're in control of it maybe these men and women will think twice and go out and get a proper job instead.
Carrie Navier, UK

Keeping prostitution illegal will not result in its elimination, so it might as well be decriminalized

Peyton, USA
Keeping prostitution illegal will not result in its elimination, so it might as well be decriminalized. Further, a tax upon it can be used to fund its regulation so that it will not unduly spread disease. Beyond this, many of the girls who become prostitutes need drug or alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation programs, which are difficult to get into now, due to poor government funding. A tax upon prostitution could be used to fully fund these programs. At present, prostitutes must bribe the police to leave them alone, so we already have a tax upon prostitutes - albeit an illegal tax - which goes directly into the pockets of police and organized crime. Were this money taxed away and recycled into rehabilitation programs, the girls might get some real good out of their ill-gotten loot.
Peyton, USA

I agree with Anthony's (UK) remarks. He is right, if someone is not happy with his sexual life, then he and his wife should take initiative to find the solution. To visit prostitutes is not a solution, but it would bring more distance between husband and wife.
Sajjad Khan, US

How much the human being has gone down in their morality and spirituality even to think of such a devilish act making legalized. Make the law in such a way that it will promote loyalty of a husband to his wife and wife to her husband. Human being are not just meat!
Zaneer, USA (Indian Origin)

Prostitution should be legalized. In most cases this situation is based on poverty. Why is it that if a single mother sells her body to feed her young children is illegal and if it is done in Hollywood it is entertainment. Is that because it is done by the rich?
Tamrat Melese, Canada

No matter how much money it may make from taxes we have to remember that it may also lead to an increase in the amount of health and social care demanded. Let's face it, if prostitution were legalised then it increases the chances of spreading STD's and pregnancy, even if those who are soliciting are trying to do it safe, these things happen. These two circumstances would be most felt in the NHS during health checks and they could lead to a big demand on NHS funding. HIV alone is a very expensive condition to treat, and should we really be letting ourselves as a society increase the risk of it spreading?
The Mouse, UK

It does not matter what we think about it. Eventually the EU will give us our orders and the matter will be settled.
Greg, UK

In my country, prostitution is still a taboo issue which do not generate much talk. In my personal opinion, I think such taboos should stop and people should acknowledge the fact that it is also an occupation as well. The stigma that attaches itself to prostitution should be removed and the people working in the industry should deserve some form of recognition and respect.
Steven Mun, Malaysia

Surely, if he's not happy in his sex life with his wife he should be taking the initiative in finding out how they can be happy

Anthony, UK
I just think that if the largest number of a prostitute's clients are married men, then it can't be right to want to encourage an activity which allows them to access sexual gratification, to the detriment of his wife and the women selling her body for sex. Surely, if he's not happy in his sex life with his wife he should be taking the initiative in finding out how they can be happy, together, rather than going elsewhere. I mean, what sort of love is that?
Anthony, UK

Prostitution equates humans to animals who do not know the relationships and sentiments. After gaining so many instincts of civilisations, talent and social habits man has started going far behind the animals by first of all having this social evils like prostitution in their society and then by legalising it.
I am ashamed of humans, they are defying the standards of humanity.
Arun Bhadoria, India

Legalise prostitution, because this would most probably put an end to the most abusive and degrading aspects of this type of "trade". Do not tax it because no government should enrich itself through it. Prostitution remains a sad and often involuntary activity, but it does exist and will exist for much longer, the persons involved in it are not doing the regular, 9 to 5, tax paying job though. Legalisation without taxation would benefit those who need it the most: the prostitutes, and the prostitutes only. Not the state, not the pimp and not the customer.
Alexis, Belgium

It is funny how inner-city areas are the focus of this trade with drugs and pimps

Tom, England
Yes, both male and female prostitution should be legalised and regulated as in Germany. There should be regular medical checks, licences, and safe brothels - probably near motorway junctions - with high-quality "hotel" facilities and proper protection for client and provider. It is funny how inner-city areas are the focus of this trade with drugs and pimps. Levy a flat-rate tax as the Germans do and proper medical examinations.
This really is not a radical step, but rather passť - if only our politicians were more in touch with normal people!
Tom, England

The people who argue against legalising prostitution all seem to be under the impression that keeping an activity illegal is actually effective. I mean only someone who lives in a bubble complains that he wants prostitution banned because he does not want his children to grow up seeing prostitutes on the corner of his street.
Fact is prostitutes are already, in England and elsewhere, on the corner of many streets, controlled and mistreated by pimps, and abused by their customers. By legalising and regulating prostitution, we would mandate that the business be confined to particular districts, and not have them be in front of children everywhere.
Jonathan Kessler, Los Angeles, USA

It is interesting to see the views of those who condemn (for moral reasons) the proposed "legalisation" of prostitution. All too often these people do not give a damn how the poor and disadvantaged in this society live. How often have these people taken an interest in how the "other half" lives? How much do they know about the hard oppressive reality that leaves some women with no other option but to become whores? If these moral guardians would actually fight the good fight and campaign against grinding poverty, an unjust economic system etc then the problem wouldn't exist to begin with.
Anon, USA

I think that you either really get tough on prostitution and eliminate all who are involved in the sex trade, or you legalise it

Marriam, England
I am a religious Muslim. I am strongly opposed to prostitution, but can some one tell me what has society gained by making prostitution illegal? I think that you either really get tough on prostitution and eliminate all who are involved in the sex trade, or you legalise it. But hanging in the middle is stupid and only makes the problem worse.
Marriam, England

Don't legalise it for tax purposes, legalise it so that the people in the business can get their basic human rights - healthcare, education, police protection etc - without stigma and fear of losing homes, children, livelihood, community respect...
P.S. Why are so many of the messages here from men?
Zoe, UK

Legalise it and tax it...BUT only if the government use all the revenues to fight under-age prostitution and sex slavery e.g. setting up a national network of refuge centres for the above, and creating a powerful and all-embracing educational programme.
Steve, UK

Slavery was also profitable and taxable.
Alex, UK

Prostitution is never going to go away. It is after all "the oldest profession in the world"

Simon Hayhurst, UK
Prostitution is never going to go away. It is after all "the oldest profession in the world" whether we like it or not it is here to stay. Therefore, to help both the health of the girls who earn a living in the trade and take the control and money away from the criminal element that currently gain the benefits from the trade, we should legalise it using a system of licensing, where only safe houses could be used with proprietors who do not have criminal records.
Simon Hayhurst, UK

After watching a programme on vice, I think some sort legalisation would be beneficial to the prostitutes. I realise that to some people this business is disgusting and should be stopped, unfortunately this is one of the oldest games going. There will always be men who prefer to pay for their sex for whatever reason. Some sort of regulation would not only raise some money but would offer some protection to the women involved. It is no good shutting your eyes to this problem, as it will always exist.
Ian, UK

I fail to see that what two consenting adults do in private is any more the government's business if it involves money than it is if it doesn't.
Peter Stanbury, UK

Its sad to see that most of the comments on this issue are from men and that most suggest legalising a behaviour that degrades women and encourages the sexual objectification of women that is so common everywhere else in society today. No decent man should favour buying women's bodies for their sexual amusement.
Joan Fiver, USA

Please don't humiliate womanhood - they are our mothers.
Perwez Akhter, USA

If people want to pay for sex let them but lets keep it off our streets

Drew, UK
An interesting debate but prostitution is not illegal. What is illegal is soliciting, living off immoral earnings and Kerb crawling. These three offences should stay to prevent widespread soliciting as cities like London saw up to the 1960's. If people want to pay for sex let them but lets keep it off our streets.
Drew, UK

If prostitution is truly an abhorrent practice that is dangerous and degrading for those involved, then surely some positive action should be taken by the society in which this practice exists.
Legalising prostitution and regulating the working conditions of those individuals concerned (whatever gender they might be) would provide a safety net for a part of society that is currently extremely vulnerable to abuse. Surely the aim of society is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for its citizens. I would see the legalisation and regulation of prostitution to be a step in this direction.
The question of legalisation versus decriminalisation is another matter, and a well thought out paper on this is available at
Richard Hyslop, UK

Prostitution, like all other human activities, has a "supply" side (the economic disadvantaged who see no other alternative) and a "demand" side (those prepared and able to pay to sate their sexual desires). Whether one legalises it or not, those two factors will remain ... as they always have. Addressing these core factors would seem to be a nobler goal than playing with the semantics of the delivery system!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

Sexual activity isn't a criminal offence, providing there is consent by both parties

Mark, Abersywyth
Protecting the prostitutes doesn't mean protecting the pimps. I say it should be legalised. Sexual activity isn't a criminal offence, providing there is consent by both parties. Not offering a safe haven or refugee is far more dangerous and I would say more deplorable than the act itself. Additionally, prostitution is the oldest profession in the world and it is not something that will go away.
Mark, Abersywyth

As we all know and see, everything is taxed so why not tax prostitutes who earn very well. I think to make it fair they should be taxed. No power in the world can stop prostitution so legalising them is another important issue to keep the society balanced.
Yahya, New Zealand

No, never. It is an immoral way of dealing with the problem of female poverty and encourages exploitation of women and bad behaviour among men. Economic arguments in favour merely camouflage already thinly-disguised selfishness and lust. It shows that our society is more, not less, male chauvinist. So much for the 'sexual revolution'.
Anon, UK

I refuse to have my son grow up with this sort of filth at the end of my street. I'm also sure that I'm not alone, and will take whatever action I have to, to ensure there are no brothels near where I live. As a parent I have an obligation to protect my child from this filth. I don't care where they do what they do, but I can assure you that I will not tolerate any intrusion of my right to enjoy my life without this being thrust into my face at every street corner. The very concept of it being legal (and the taboo) will increase peoples desire to get some of the action. Its filth and that's the bottom line.
Mr Moral, UK

Prostitution serves a legitimate purpose

Peter Nelson, USA
Prostitution serves a legitimate purpose. Not everyone is married, and not every married person has a spouse who is interested in sex. Nor is every single person young and attractive. So there are those for whom prostitution is the only way to enjoy any sex at all. What's wrong with that?
Peter Nelson, USA

The arguments against prostitution being legalised are generally confused. The only thing that makes prostitution illegal is that you pay for it. If you don't pay for it, it is legal, even though you may be violating just as many rules of morality by having sex for free outside of marriage. So unless we are going to criminalise adultery, we have no reason to criminalise prostitution.
Niall, USA

Legalise it! It is just another job. We must admit that sex is pleasurable. When something is pleasurable you will find plenty of custom. Legalise it, like the Netherlands and Germany have done. The ladies can become legitimate taxpayers and can get on with their lives with dignity. If necessary, lets have a referendum.
Eddy, USA

I wonder how much of a drain this is on the NHS every year.

Derek,ex-pat, Brazil
Great idea, whilst there at it, why not make those who visit prostitutes, pay for their medical care when they catch venereal diseases. If they can afford a prostitute, they can afford to pay for this as well. I wonder how much of a drain this is on the NHS every year.
Derek,ex-pat, Brazil

Yes, many prostitutes are only involved because of other problems in their life, i.e. drug addiction. In its present unlicensed format it is a dangerous environment for them that perpetuates and positively encourages crime, ritual abuse, exploitation, deceit, and transmission of life threatening disease. License it, tax it, and make it safer for all those involved, and also stop people who have other problems getting involved.
Jon Taylor, UK

Leave the morals to the people who partake in the activity

Dan, UK (in Holland)
Leave the morals to the people who partake in the activity. All you moral do-gooders should learn to mind your own business! Plus the extra money from taxes would be quite useful for the Government too.
Dan, UK (in Holland)

There are efforts by many cities and states in the US to try and get women out of prostitution. If prostitution is legalised then governments will have no incentive to help these women escape from this life because the tax benefits will be too great.

In many of the responses people claimed that legalisation will end sex slavery. It will not. It will actually increase the problem due to higher demand by men who no longer fear arrest. Authorities will have no way to tell whether prostitution is a choice or not. The tax incentives may actually encourage the police and government to look the other way when sex slavery does occur, which is what happens in many countries especially Eastern Europe.
Jeff Garner, US

What is happening in our country when such a question is being raised? The law in a civilised country should protect the weak and marginalised in society and be intrinsically ethical in its nature. Vulnerable women must be protected by the law from being manipulated and dominated by abusive profiteers and immoral men who perpetuate the prostitution trade. It would therefore be a crime against human rights and betrayal of the national conscience if prostitution were legalised. However, it should be those who employ and use prostitutes who should be severely punished by the law, but not the prostitutes themselves who should be regarded with compassion.
Peter Barraclough, England

Yes legalise it. How can people compare prostitution to murder and burglary. Prostitution is consenting sex for money, whereas I am sure that most people do not consent to be murdered or burgled!
Owen, UK

Prostitution should be legalised

Frank Veron, UK
Prostitution should be legalised. However, to prevent STDs prostitutes should be certified periodically by getting a health check. Thus the legal prostitutes would be the ones who passed the exam.
Frank Veron, UK

I am surprised that no-one has yet protested at this becoming yet another example of women being dehumanised into sex-objects to be bought and used in the market. And where does this leave marriage, faithfulness and commitment, let alone the risk of the spread of disease?
Ken Beach, Germany

Like Wyatt Bell I am also a transplanted Englishman living in the Netherlands. Mr Bell's points are spot-on. I just wonder if the vocal minority who set themselves up as social and moral guardians in England will EVER bow to the inevitable and legalise the oldest profession - I think not.
David Coe, Netherlands (ex-pat)

What I've seen in Amsterdam is nothing I'd be proud of having in my own home town

Lee Ruthenberg, London, England
What I've seen in Amsterdam is nothing I'd be proud of having in my own home town. If the Netherlands is the benchmark by which to judge the effects of legalised prostitution - it gets the "no thank-you" from me.
Lee Ruthenberg, London, England

Interesting that almost all of the responses come from men! And, that they want it legalised. Wonder why? But legalised it should be and should have been a long time ago for everybody's sakes, and safety.
GD, Belgium

The West has the audacity to criticise the Talban when it is clear to see who is manipulating women. Women are protected under Islam whereas it is clear to see that they are oppressed under Western ideologies.

Prostitutes are expensive enough as it is. Goodness knows how I'll be able to afford them if they whack 17.5% VAT on as well.
Paul Watson, UK

Legalising prostitution for tax purposes is doing a good thing with the wrong intention.

Agha Ata, USA
Legalising prostitution for tax purposes is doing a good thing with the wrong intention. But, taxing is also necessary to make prostitution respectable and legitimate like other professions. Besides, it should be illegal for men or women to act as a pimp. Let this service develop into an art as geishas have done in Japan. They might solve the "stress" problem the world is facing, and balance the pain of life to some extent for some.
Agha Ata, USA

Legalise it because people have a right to make private contact with other consenting adults. I do not think that, in a modern world, laws should be used to protect morals, particularly as the morals come from a bygone era where the church and religion had far too much say in peoples lives.
Cas, UK

And why not...the amount of abuse and violence that most prostitutes take from their pimps is disgusting, people have to remember that most prostitutes choose this way of life as they have no other choices or haven't seen any other avenues in life to go down.
Steve Da Silva, UK

The arguments for legalising it are immense

Alan, UK
As far as I can see, the arguments for legalising it are immense: safer for the girls, frees up the police, stops people being branded as criminals for what is really a "moral" crime. The only thing I can see against it is that the government risks offending the "moral" minority.
Alan, UK

I see all the usual tired old arguments being wheeled out here. "Oldest profession in the world." Says who? How do they know and why should that make any difference anyway? "Only 2 people are involved". Really? If a married man goes to see a prostitute I would suggest at least 3 adults are involved, are they not? "The moral issue is irrelevant." I would suggest that a society that sees the selling of sex as a mere commodity is a society that is rapidly losing sight of the sense of family and the specialness of sex within the context of a loving and meaningful relationship, and that ought to concern us all. "Legalising it will stop the criminal element being involved". How is this supposed to work exactly? It's legal to sell tobacco in shops for example, but that doesn't stop a thriving black market in cigarettes
Rob, U.K.

Law should reflect society, not an Ann Widdecombe wish list.

Chris Welch, UK
Legalise it. Takes the danger and criminality out of it. Law should reflect society, not an Ann Widdecombe wish list.
Chris Welch, UK

In a world where we are fast losing are moral values it wont be long before the things that we know to be wrong today will be right tomorrow. It shouldn't be difficult for anyone to see how the standards of the world have change so much in the last few years or even months. Those who argue, "it can't be stopped so legalise it", have you thought of the other things such as drugs, theft, killings that can't be stopped as being legalised soon. We ought to be ready for that too.
Yaw, Japan

Imagine the potential. Mega brothels offering salaries and other employee benefits. Some entrepreneur could really do something with a change in the law on this. Virgin?
Ross, USA

It should be eliminated rather than legalizing it.
Saqib, Pakistan

I hope that those who want to see this trade legalised will also be happy to have a brothel-house at each end of their street

John, Belgium
I hope that those who want to see this trade legalised will also be happy to have a brothel-house at each end of their street, with red neon lights proclaiming their business. This is what we have in certain parts of Brussels. I feel sorry for the poor kids in those areas who must be asking their parents: What are all the red lights for? Why are all those men going in and out of those houses? What are they doing there? If you vote for legalisation, you must be sure you'll know what to tell your kids when they start asking these questions.
John, Belgium

I assume that prostitutes, if legalized, would not be caught by the new IR35 legislation, and would therefore be able to claim back courses on self training more easily than I, a computer consultant, can.
David Milne, Scotland

Stop saying prostitution should be legal, PROSTITUTION IS LEGAL! What is not legal is publicly soliciting sexual services. More than one girl working on a premises is also illegal. So if you want a threesome I guess you better get them to come to your place!
Susan Lehman, UK

Legalisation would allow the authorities to help girls in need as their are too many bad guys willing to exploit and terrify some into being prostitutes. Legalization would open up the can of worms that has become and actually always has been that part of our society.
L Stanage, Britain

The moral and ethical aspects need more attention in this issue

Beng, UK (from Singapore)
To those who argue that because prostitution should be accepted as an inevitable feature of society and therefore legalised, I think this is a very bad argument. If you take that line of reasoning, you could also say that since there is so much burglary in the UK, and making it illegal hasn't stopped it, why not de-criminalise burglary and make burglars pay taxes too. If burglary was no longer a crime, the crime rate would drop to new lows overnight. The same argument could be applied to the drug industry, child pornography, gun running, terrorism, illegal immigrant smuggling, or whatever else you care to name. Sure the moral and ethical aspects need more attention in this issue, as well as the greater good of society and the welfare of women.
Beng, UK (from Singapore)

Just because something cannot and will not go away is not a good enough reason to legalise it - look at murder for example. What matters is the signal that we would be sending out by legalising it. Okaying casual sex for money is another step on the slippery road of moral decline the western world is undergoing.
Toby, UK

From pole dancing to modelling, all other professions using the body are legal - so why shouldn't prostitution be?
Scarlet, UK

By making prostitution legal you get rid of pimps and organised crime in one fell swoop

Andy Nymbus, UK
By making prostitution legal you get rid of pimps and organised crime in one fell swoop. By restricting where trade can take place e.g. industrial units, you get the pros away from public area's where they may cause offence or problems to local residents. It's the oldest profession - legalise it, regulate it and tax it.
Andy Nymbus, UK

Why shouldn't prostitution be legal as in Holland? The Dutch have a more enlightened attitude to sex and fewer consequent problems. I have never had any sexual involvement with prostitutes but grew up next-door to a girl who became one and have met others since. Some choose prostitution and others are real victims of circumstance. Legalisation within a framework might give more protection to those who need it whilst allowing freedom of choice for those who wish to sell or buy sex.
John Rooney, United Kingdom

I'm trying to imagine people coming to me for careers advice about becoming a prostitute. I think the people who enter prostitution out of desperation will still do so, to pay for drugs or whatever. How many other tradesmen do jobs on the side for cash in hand? Would legislation also include males?
Kris, UK

This is NOT a good idea

Mr Moral, UK
This is NOT a good idea as making it legal may send out the signal the people out there that it's a "good" thing. I'm against it for all the reasons, and yes some people choose to do it, however how many more are FORCED into prostitution? It makes me sick to think someone out there would even think about making it legal and further still taxing it? How about we spend some money on finding the cartels that exploit women and busting them? Heck I'd change my tune about getting taxed £2000+ a month if I knew it was being spent here, rather than filling the pockets of corrupt political fat cats.
Mr Moral, UK

Morality is a personal matter. Governments should not legislate on the basis of morality. In the case of prostitution, the British government would serve the population best by legalizing prostitution with the provision that prostitutes be made subject to regular and stringent health checks. As a concession to those offended by such activities, it would seem reasonable for the government to limit brothels to certain areas of cities.
Nick Bowman, USA

I can scarcely remember a talking point issue where the opinions were so consistent. I say yes to legalization, no to the pimps, yes to better hygienic conditions, and no to generations of hypocritical heads stuck in the moral sandpit!
Anthony, Germany (UK)

Will there be consumer rights if the customer is unhappy with the service provided?!

Harriet, London
Yes, it should be legalised to improve safety. But how on earth will they be taxed!! Will prostitutes have to give receipts for work? Will there be consumer rights if the customer is unhappy with the service provided?!
Harriet, London

The decision as to whether one is to be involved in prostitution is based on both moral and economic factors that have nothing to do with the government. So I don't see the reason why the government should get involved unless underage persons are practising it. Furthermore most African governments have impoverished people making them engage in prostitution in order to make ends meet. So it would be immoral for the same governments to interfere with this lucrative trade either by way of regulations or imposition of taxes!
Waweru Christopher, Kenya

The legalisation and subsequent taxation of prostitution opens up an interesting can of worms, i.e. that it will be subject to the Sale of Goods Act and that as such clients will presumably be able to dispute payment on the grounds of "as adverstised" and or "fit for the purpose for which it is intended" and or (and most promisingly) of "merchantable quality"...Your Honour.
M Street, England

Prostitution is a legal activity in the United Kingdom

Phil Davies, UK
Prostitution is a legal activity in the United Kingdom and proceeds from it are liable to taxation. What is illegal here is soliciting the sale of sex and living off immoral earnings. Now what is it that you wish to legalise?
Phil Davies, UK

What is the point of making the earnings from prostitution taxable? Can you imagine that any prostitute is likely to declare an income remotely in line with what they actually earn - most of their income is likely to be cash in hand as opposed to invoiced in the manner of any other 'service' industry. However, it does seem like a dream job in the pipeline for HM Inspector of Brothels.
Peter Clelland, England

A prostitute's life is difficult enough as it is

Simon Keiler, UK
A prostitute's life is difficult enough as it is. Let them keep their earnings and give themselves a chance to gain a better station in life.
Simon Keiler, UK

Prostitution is not about sex, so the tax concerned would not be a tax on sex. It would be a tax on the male right to procure access to women's bodies whenever they require. Instead of taxing it, we should be doing something about the phenomenon of prostitution itself!
Shazia Bhatti, England

Legalisation of prostitution would give prostitutes greater control over their earnings, their health, their safety and their bodies. Better still, sex slavery, pimping and all the other abuses associated with it could be clamped down on, if not removed altogether.
Wendy, UK

It earns a lot of money, legally, for both the city and the girls

Wyatt Bell, Netherlands
As a Brit who has lived in Amsterdam for some time now I feel qualified to make a few observations. Firstly, there is no doubt that the legalisation of prostitution has reduced the general "seediness" of the red light area and turned the sale of sex into just another commodity. Secondly, it earns a lot of money, legally, for both the city and the girls, reduces the incidence of pimping, radically decreases the health risks because of regular statutory health checks and has reduced crime associated with the sex industry. Thirdly, like it or not, it is a "must-see" attraction for all of the visitors I have to stay with me. In fact, usually the most embarrassing thing that one encounters in the area are the many drunken stag-nighters on a weekend trip over from the UK.
Wyatt Bell, Netherlands

Prostitution could be as big as McDonalds one day. Prostitutes would ask you if you wanted a side order of fries with your purchase.
Neil Hunter, London, England

Tax prostitution! Gaol everyone in HM Inland Revenue for "living off immoral earnings"; held, so to speak, at Her Majesty's Pleasure. While they serve their terms, we'll all get a bit of peace.
Nigel Rees, USA (Briton)

I believe that prostitutes supply a useful public service

John, France
I believe that prostitutes supply a useful public service. What is the difference between the girl who sleeps with a man who has taken her out for the evening and a girl who takes the cash up front? If legalising it means girls do not have to work for a minder, and are not forced into this way of life by criminal blackmail then I am all for it.
John, France

Yes, it should be legalised. The oldest profession in the world is never going to go away, so why criminalise it? It'll be better for the girls, better for the punters and better for the Treasury.
B. Thompson, UK

Prostitution is currently legal as I understand it. What is illegal is running a brothel, or for a prostitute to actively 'solicit' business. The law needs reforming in this area and I think prostitution should be completely legalised. The likely outcomes of this would be safer working conditions for prostitutes, a reduction in sex crimes by frustrated males, tax for the Government and the possibility of health checks making a visit safer for clients. This is not really a matter of morals. Prostitution is already big business as the study shows. Driving it underground is not the way to deal with it.
Mr T, UK

How low is this country going to sink? Money isn't everything!
Richard L, UK

Who cares about the black market, prostitution is still wrong

Mike Y, Boston, USA
Who cares about the black market, prostitution is still wrong. If you legalise it, venereal diseases will spread much faster and you will have to spend all of the money taken in on medical measures to combat infection.
Mike Y, Boston, USA

Of course it should be legalised! It's the only way we can make sure (as much as it is possible) that the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is kept to a minimum and that young girls are not forced into an illegal activity. Let's get it off the streets, into regulated brothels and let's start making some money for the country out of this valuable resource!
Katie, UK

Our Government prostitutes itself to big business so why can't we prostitute ourselves to big business men? Sadly however the British are ruled by greed, bigotry and ignorance and will never achieve the enlightened social principals of the Dutch.
Martin Bentley, UK

It might as well be. The main thing is to prevent minors under the age of 18 from working as prostitutes and also to prevent anyone from being forced into it against their will. Maybe the best way to ensure that is to make it legal. And if they were forced to pay tax then it would be a windfall for the government.
Susannah, Australia

The law should reflect reality rather than denying its existence

Andy Millward, UK
Yes, especially since the law should reflect reality rather than denying its existence. Tax and registration are two benefits; others include health and well-being of prostitutes and their clients, and to help eliminate the drugs, slavery and other criminal connections of parasites feeding off the earnings of prostitutes.
Andy Millward, UK

Prostitution, like gambling, alcohol drinking, drug taking, and any other vice you can name, will carry on, legal or illegal. People want it, it is their personal choice to have it or not. Illegality simply drives it underground where it is controlled by harsh penalties under the law, and by the always-violent practitioners of organised crime. What is it to you whether a man visits a prostitute? Legal prostitution will be safer health-wise for the prostitutes and their clients. Women will not be controlled by a pimp but by a form of licensing, designed not to prohibit but to improve their services.
Randy, UK

Taxing it would be immoral and might be taken to indicate that the state approves

Mark Parker, UK
Prostitution is generally a last resort for women who have no other means to raise the money they need. I suspect that only for a minority is it a career choice taken in preference to other more conventional alternatives. As such it would be a decent thing to decriminalise it, but taxing it would be immoral and might be taken to indicate that the state approves - which I certainly hope it doesn't.
Mark Parker, UK

Prostitution is already legal here in Switzerland. If men want to pay for it, and women want to sell it...what's the problem?
Steve McCall, Switzerland

Prostitution should be made legal but mainly to protect the women and try to control the spread of disease. If this country only legalises it for reasons of boosting the economy then why not legalise drugs as well why we're at it?
Jacky, England

No amount of regulation will prevent prostitution from taking place

Adam, UK
No amount of regulation will prevent prostitution from taking place, it should be accepted as an inevitable feature of society and the government should maximise this latent revenue potential, the same argument could also be applied to other morally sensitive industries, such as drug manufacture and sales.
Adam, UK

Does this mean that we will have to report the amount of times we have sex to the Inland Revenue? With my wife they'll owe me money at the end of the year.
Neil Hunter, London, England

Of course prostitution should be legalised. If someone decides to use their body as their means of income, that is their choice. They are providing a service which is obviously wanted or prostitution would have died out years ago. No one has a moral right to dictate what a person can and cannot do with their own body and nor does anyone deserve to be reviled, abused or put in danger because of their choice of profession.
Helen Jenkins, Wales, Uk

No, it shouldn't be legalised so the taxman can take his share! It should be legalised because the government has no right to tell people over 18 what to do with their bodies!
M.P.Marshall, UK

The issue of prostitution has always been 'hush-hush', a real taboo subject

Arkady, Japan
The issue of prostitution has always been 'hush-hush', a real taboo subject. Yet, it's probably one of the oldest traditions in the world. I wonder what it is about it that makes us squirm when the issue is raised. As our common knowledge now dictates, Japan has long been famous for prostitution - Geisha. Even here, the morals dictate that the job itself is something that we should all be ashamed of. However, as with all other pressing issues, such as the legalisation of soft drugs and euthanasia, it remains an ever-present discussion point. There are always women who feel compelled to work as a prostitute, and as long as the woman is not being exploited, I would regard it as another profession.
Arkady, Japan

Prostitution should definitely be legalised as soon as possible. Not only will it then be taxable, but also the people who choose to work in this profession will be able to do so in safety. Prostitution is the oldest profession and can never be stopped, so surely the best thing to do is regulate it, and bring it above ground.
Phil, UK

I think the legalisation of this service is an excellent idea. Not only will it stop me from having to drive along dodgy streets at night, but it would also help in making the whole thing safer both for the service provider and the client. Plus, they may get better looking if it becomes a legitimate business.
Tom, UK

Let's not forget we are talking about people's lives.

James Slodzik, England
There are lots of arguments for and against legalisation. It's a finely balanced argument, but I personally come out in favour of legalisation, which would allow regulation and safeguards to protect both prostitutes and their clients. But there is one thing I'm absolutely sure about and that is that economic considerations and the prospect of tax revenues should play no part in the debate. Let's not forget we are talking about people's lives. The decision should be based solely on the consequences on the quality of life of prostitutes, their clients, and society at large.
James Slodzik, England

It is frightening that anyone should propose that the law should be framed around what is good for the Treasury. The legal status of prostitution, and anything else for that matter, should be decided on the basis of whether it is moral, whether it benefits society as a whole more to be o be legal or not, and whether it infringes peoples rights more if legal or not. If the Treasury had control, no doubt everything would be legal (except tax evasion) and the taxman would save having to pay for police and courts.
Julian Hayward, UK

At the end of the day this is the oldest profession in the world

Louise, UK
At the end of the day this is the oldest profession in the world. Will someone please acknowledge this and legalise it and give the police time to tackle real crime.
Louise, UK

Legalise it but for God's sake don't tax it! As soon as the government get involved we can be sure prostitution will die out.
Alex Stanway, England

Legalising and thus controlling prostitution, raises revenue, enables health & safety issues, breaks (or weakens) drug links, makes the trade more transparent, fixes rates, cleans up the act, and significantly reduces the risk of young people being violently abused, or imprisoned in a spiral of moral, physical, social and fiscal degeneration. Morally its awkward, but I think a utilitarian approach is called for.
Shane_UK, UK

Legal competition might significantly reduce illegal immigration and the trade in young women.

Peter, Netherlands
Not only the Treasury would benefit. So would the public, there could be consumer protection, for example. And indeed, so would the workforce: they could have social protection, and would no longer have to be vulnerable to criminals. In addition, legal competition might significantly reduce illegal immigration and the trade in young women.
Peter, Netherlands

Why not? The government is fighting a losing battle anyway. In Finland prostitution is legal - having a pimp is illegal, and I don't see why it shouldn't be the same here. If a woman wishes to sell her body then who are we to stop her?
Simon, England

Prostitution is already legal in the UK. It's just that most of the activities surrounding prostitution are illegal. The frightening subject is the increased white slave trade. If the activities surrounding prostitution were legalised it would be easier to protect prostitutes under the law because then they would no longer be in fear of prosecution themselves.
Dr Duncan Campbell, UK

Prostitutes are simply supplying a demand and selling a product just like any other

We live in a supposedly free and democratic society so as long as no harm is being done, prostitutes, like the rest of us, should have the right to live as they choose. Besides prostitutes are simply supplying a demand and selling a product just like any other. Who are we to impose our morals and beliefs on others?

The other question to be asked first is: Is prostitution a job?. If the answer is yes then prostitutes should be taxed in the same way that any other hard working self-employed person does. How would the government regulate and collect the tax? How would they measure the prostitute's ability to work? Interesting job for someone out there...
Dominic, UK

This is long overdue. Affairs of contract between two consenting adults are of nobody else's concern. People will not be dictated to by self-appointed moral guardians who would not personally be involved in this anyway, and so the moral issue is irrelevant. Issues such as the presence of underage girls on the

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