something i read on saba's site, bahrain and beyond, about north korean sex slaves allowing refuge in the united states got me thinking about prostitution in general.
prostitution is the pariah of society. really, the hours are lousy, the clientel can be disgusting, and there is no dental coverage. all kidding aside, prostitution is a social issue that will not go away, despite the most righteous attempts by religious crusaders. prostitution has been around since, well, forever. i'm betting there was a caveperson somewhere who was willing to trade a little nookie for berries or animal skins or fire. let's face it, there will always be prostitutes, because there will always be johns. what we can prevent, however, is the unnecessary violence and abuse garnered against the women (and sometimes men) who work in the prostitution industry.
the robert pickton case is a prime example of what prostitutes face. robert pickton is accused of being canada's worst serial killer, and is currently on trial facing 27 counts of murder. most of his alleged victims were sex trade workers or missing women who are suspected of having worked in the sex industry. there are accusations against the police, claiming that they ignored key evidence and basically just didn't care enough to find out who was preying on these women, allowing the killer to hunt freely for years. it it had been 27 middleclass white women, guaranteed the killer would have been caught sooner.
no one cares about prostitutes. at least the majority of society doesn't really seem to so long as prostitutes don't work in their neighborhoods. i have always felt that prostitution should be legalized, because it is never going to go away. the only thing holding back the legalization of prostitution is our own moral stance towards it. is prostitution bad? yes. but can it be made into something better? yes.

by legalizing prostitution, you can do it so that the workers are set to work in designated brothels in specific parts of town (away from residences, schools, etc). you can have them regularly checked for sexually transmitted diseases, they can earn a bi-weekly paycheck that gets taxed, which gives them the benefit of paying into the system, thereby becoming a productive member of society and eligible for all the health benefits our struggling universal health care system will allow. on top of this, the government can then apply extra taxes to johns, like a "sin" tax, sort of like on cigarrettes and alcohol, and thus make a profit from it. The police then can focus on the illegal prostitution and the under-aged prostitution. prostitution can then be safer and cleaner and in the end, it would end up as just another profession that you would discourage your kids from going into, like stripping or porn.

to sum up, you can make sure the prostitutes are protected, you can track std's and drug use, you can tax them and they can contribute to society, and the government can take something off the top like any good pimp.

of course, there are major problems still. such as how do you limit sizes of brothels, is there an interview process for prostitutes or do you just accept anyone that wants to, or how do we deal with the bigger problem of people resorting to prostitution out of problems within their homes and families... and i know the registration of workers and monthly health checkups reaks of government interference into women's bodies... i haven't thought this through at all. that's for the policy makers. maybe legalization is completely the wrong way to go. maybe increased funding into family programs and rehabilitation centers for prostitutes to help them get back on their feet is the answer. i don't know, i guess legalization of prostitution seems so orwellian and controversial, which makes it fun to ponder. still, something has to be done to protect these people. it's just a thought.
UPDATE: an alberta man has been charged with the death of a sex-trade worker. police have been investigating a series of killings in the edmonton area. they believe it may be the work of a serial killer. well! looks like perhaps the police are actually starting to care.