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Prostitution has been licensed and legal in Nevada since 1971. This transaction is allowed if the sex worker is working under a licensed brothel in one of the 7 counties where it is currently legal. Prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas, because the law only permits counties with a population of less than 700,000 to operate legal brothels. Probably one of the immediate concerns with safety for sex workers and clients is safety against disease. Prostitutes are required to undergo STI testing before hired and they get tested monthly for HIV and syphilis and condoms are mandatory. This policy was enforced in the 1980’s.
The common misconception within the select counties in Nevada that have had prostitution legal, is that it only causes harm within the communities. The anti-brothel campaigners believe that this contributes to sex-trafficking and that the prostitutes that work in these legal brothels aren’t safe, and that some have “ran away” from the brothels they work at due to violence or rape. The campaigns that are making efforts to change these laws share incorrect statistics and claim that the simple existence of these brothels have contributed to widespread violence where prostitution is legal. There are claims that it in no way benefits the community’s economy and that it drives away any potential revenue to other businesses. Those that are working towards a ban on these legal brothels have made unsubstantiated claims and believe there is an attack on revenue and safety and this is simply not true. When this transaction is done by consenting adults, ideally there should be no harm and that is the truth when workers are asked about their experiences from working at these brothels. “The brothel prostitutes we interviewed invoke feeling protected from violence to justify satisfaction with brothels as opposed to illegal work” (Brents and Hausbeck 271).
The women working in these brothels feel protected because of the regulations imposed by the policy and the safety regulations that are enforced by the brothels and local law enforcement involvement. With protection against disease, every sex-worker has to test negative for HIV and syphilis monthly as well as before gaining employment. With that, they also get tested every week for STI’s such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. For physical safety, the prostitutes rooms’ have panic buttons that for the most part are located in convenient and reachable spots if they are in danger and need immediate response. As for dealing with these customers, “The owners we interviewed insured this by making it policy to call the police at the slightest hint of trouble to send a message that they don’t tolerate bad behavior” (Brents and Hausbeck 281). The claims made by campaigners on legal prostitution and the contribution to widespread violence are false, there was no substantial evidence to support their claim.
There are no direct statistics for the counties in Nevada, but this can be used as reference, “When Rhode Island accidentally legalized indoor prostitution for a number of years, reported rapes declined by 31 percent” (Alptraum 14). This covers the years that it was legal and it would prove that decriminalizing prostitution doesn’t cause an increase in widespread violence in said regions. If there is worry about an increase in sex-trafficking that has been impacted by the decriminalization of prostitution, what has actually been found is that there is neither a significant increase or decrease when there is legal prostitution present. If anything, this should just goes to show that decriminalizing and regulating prostitution and the efforts made against sex-trafficking are not mutually exclusive.
If prostitution is criminalized and if legal brothels (that don’t host sex-traffickers & their victims to begin with) are banned, there will be no advancements to finding solutions and could even be a possible determent. When we shift to a better understanding on sex-work and prostitution regardless of our morals and personal beliefs, it is beneficial to the adults that consensually choose to be sex-workers. This being if we are ever confronted with the same situation that the residents in these Nevada counties are in. Not questioning the information and not informing ourselves before strongly advocating or “feeling” a certain way is not an excuse. Prostitution will find a way to be regardless of if legal or not. If the concern is safety for prostitutes & clients for the large part that is taken care of. If the concern is impact on something bigger scale like sex-trafficking, there will be no improvements anywhere if there is a regression from current prostitution policies.
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