In today's New York Times, columnist Bob Herbert tells the story of a Queens police detective, Wayne Taylor, and his girlfriend, Zalika Brown, who are accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and forcing her into prostitution. Allegedly the couple told the girl that they had purchased her for $500 — like a slave — and forced her to have sex for money. Herbert uses this anecdote as a jumping off point to discuss a change needed in the way sex crimes are prosecuted. Even though in this scenario, police acted positively towards the girl, Herbert argues, "What's needed is a paradigm shift. Society (and thus law enforcement) needs to view any adult who sexually exploits a child as a villain, and the exploited child as a victim of that villainy. If a 35-year-old pimp puts a 16-year-old girl on the street and a 30-year-old john pays to have sex with her, how is it reasonable that the girl is most often the point in that triangle that is targeted by law enforcement?" Is prostitution prosecution in need of an overhaul? [New York Times]
I'm going to jump into the "Legalize" boat. I am not one to glorify prostitution or prostitutes (in fact, I rather railed against it the other week when Moe did a piece on the Sex Workers Art show and talked about what amazing insights all sex workers have). They're people like anyone else. In the system we have, most of them are desperate women with low-self esteem and tragic pasts and futures. But if you legalize prostitution, you get rid of the key problems with the trade as it exists today: violent pimps and violent johns. Some women want to sell their sexual services for money. No problem with that. Some men just want to get off and are willing to pay for that. AWESOME. Cool. I think your lives must probably be pretty sad, but that's not for me to say or judge.
@Fatdogsmells: Like it or not, sex is a commodity, always has been, and always will be. Chimps fuck to get what they want— food, protection, etc. I'm not saying this is ideal moral behavior and it obviously has certain negative rammefications, but lots of things have negative consequences, and I still think we should be free to do them to ourselves— weed, tobacco, alcohol, plastic surgery.