Monday, December 18, 2006

What do we do about street Prostitution?

One of the interesting and possibly positive side effects from the horror story in Ipswich is the dialogue and debate about the legal status of prostitutes.

The soft underbelly of Britain today is occasionally exposed to public gaze and this case is one such time when ordinary members of the public have to face the reality that -even in a secondary town like Ipswich- there can be hundreds of girls out on the streets in danger every week.

Why do they do it? What makes perfectly sensible people risk their lives to make their living in this way? Risking not just violent abuse but sexual diseases, arrest and imprisonment, and complete social exclusion?

In a word, hard drugs.

Estimates vary, but around 70% of prostitutes are thought to be drug addicts and most of those are the street girls who face the biggest danger.

Should we legalise prostitution? Well I do believe those who argue that the current legislation works against those most vulnerable by outlawing brothels and forcing more girls to streetwalk but otherwise I am not convinced that their legal status is the problem.

The issue, like so many others today, comes back to drug addiction.

Unless and until we can bring ourselves to accept that blanket prohibition simply acts an an incentive for criminality - addicts push hard drugs to others to finance their habit in a kind of pyramid selling scheme- we can never begin to tackle the problem properly.

Sure, a massive increase in rehab schemes as we propose will help, but will it solve the problem?- I don't think so.


Someone who knows about drug addicts said...

Bizarre as it sounds, the regulated supply of drugs at cheap prices by the NHS is probably the best way out but I doubt very much whether that is a feature of this or any future Governments thinking.

If drugs were available freely to registered users we could monitor their addiction and help them get off, whilst keeping them off the treadmill of crime to finance their next hit.

Most major addictive drugs are ludicrously cheap to make - the scheme would cost peanuts and save billions in crime and insurance costs.

Is that too practical for you, Marcus?

Anonymous said...

I would say that legalising prostitution would probably be the best thing to do, for a variety of reasons.

Regulating it would allow prostitutes to seek help for their addictions without the worry of being arrested for prostitution, they could form trades unions to help support each other, and it would hopefully help in the fight against people-smuggling, because it is more difficult to traffic people into a legitimate and legal industry (not impossible, but difficult).

Also, since prostitution is merely adultery plus payment, it seems crazy for it to be illegal.

The problems are that that stance will be seen as something of a vote-loser, and which councillor would want to vote to site a brothel anywhere in their borough?

Legalising it would be the best solution, but will it happen? I very much doubt that it will, but you never know...

Anonymous said...

Are you quietly advocating legalisation of drugs Marcus? Is this now Tory policy?

It would be too much to have the Tories spouting legalisation when people like Michael Howard gave the Lib Dems such a hard time over the same issue during the election.