The oldest profession needs a new approach

I’VE never paid anyone to lie underneath me but I have paid someone to lie under my sink. The geographical difference is important when it comes to differentiating between prostitutes and plumbers.
No doubt there are some who like to pay prostitutes to lie under their sink but – Formula One supremos notwithstanding – most try not to mix their professions when it comes to hiring.

Much as I enjoy the benefits of plumbing, I’d rather pay some one who knows what they are doing to do it for me. And much as I enjoy the company of all fellow members of the human race, my interest in plumber welfare tends to disappear once they’ve unblocked my pipes. They provide a service, I pay, they depart. Whether they provide that service is up to them. All of this is broadly the same for those providing some form of sexual service in exchange for money.

What people choose to do with their body to make money is up to them. They can join the armed forces and put their body in the line of fire; they can sit in a office cubicle and live for the excess of the weekend; they can lie under sinks and tell people it’s worse than they thought. Or they can offer sexual services.

It’s probably not too much of generalisation to say that women standing on rainy street corners in unpleasant areas of town waiting to sell their body to whoever opens the car door are not living the life of their dreams. Indeed, they are in a position where they have not much left to lose in terms of dignity and quality of life.

That said, undertaking that work is ultimately their choice. Yes, they may be at the nether regions of the social order, yes they may have substance dependency issues. But ultimately it is their body and they should decide where it goes and what it does, otherwise the whole issue of individual rights means nothing.

So why is prostitution illegal? Some will argue that prostitution – unlike plumbing – is an activity that brings with it a whole set of social problems including child welfare and white slavery. To them I would say two things – you never met the plumbers who came round to fix my shower last week, and legality can help solve most of the problems associated with prostitution.

An issue of over-riding importance is that the social issues raised by prostitution are woefully under-funded. Sexual prostitutes would, of course, be subject to the same taxation as the rest of us who only engage in white-collar administrative prostitution of our bodies. Turning prostitutes from drainers of public resources to contributors will change not only how they feel about themselves, but – and it might take a bit of time – how society feels about them. And it will help provide resources to tackle those problems associated with the sex trade.

I wouldn’t pretend legalisation will solve all problems. But unless I am mistaken, we have tried everything else, from total illegality to arresting car drivers, and none of it has worked. The rise of attacks on prostitutes is a predictable result of forcing the trade underground and off-camera. And if you think legalisation has nothing to offer, imagine what would happen if being a plumber was illegal.

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