In the last few days two articles caught my attention: one about a raid on a presumed illegal brothel and one about a Sydney city council using private detectives to gather evidence against presumed illegal brothels (as an aside, private agents employed by government agencies/branches should be bound by the rules of evidence as if police). These articles reminded me of the recent ‘Ipswich murders’, or more specifically, of this line from The Economist (traditionally, I believe, an advocate of legalisation):
Some advocate the Swedish model. In 1998 the government declared prostitution a form of “male violence” and changed policies. Men who buy sex are charged with committing a criminal offence. The public has been made more aware of trafficking. And the government finances schemes to help women get out of prostitution, which has now declined.
For the life of me I can’t see prostitution as a desirable career path for anyone, nor can I find merit in the ‘imagine if there were no prostitutes for all those desperate dateless young men’ argument in fact I have always thought it was produced by a sort of alliterative dyslexia and ‘prostitutes‘ was originally ‘prisons‘ or ‘psychiatric hospitals’. I can believe that there are women for whom it is an acceptable or even attractive way of earning more than they otherwise could, and I accept that the State ought to generally have as little say as possible in the sexual affairs of consenting adults. But states do regulate commerce, indeed outside of (attractive) libertarian thought-experiments the state is a necessary actor in a sophisticated commercial and consumer society. Also, prostitution seems increasingly linked to human trafficking, which in turn is one of the main drivers of contemporary organised crime. Not to mention that The Economist article also featured this tidbit (admittedly, sourced from the Poppy Project, an anti-prostitution organisation):
in two places where prostitution was legalised¢â¬âthe Netherlands and the state of Victoria in Australia¢â¬âthere is now a greater connection between crime and sex work than before. One nasty manifestation is a sharp increase in the numbers of women (and children) who are trafficked¢â¬âie, effectively kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
Now I may be just an out-of-touch conservative, but I think this is one Swedish model worth copying.