Welcome to another week.

An article about a BBC documentary looking at what happens to children after they leave care, has suggested that 70% of prostitutes come from the care system. 

The debate around prostitution usually focuses on whether or not it should be legalised, from moral, ethical, financial and often legal standpoints. ProCon.Org offers an excellent summary of the perceived advantages and disadvantages to legalisation for what is often referred to as the world’s oldest profession.

Prostitution is legal in England and Wales, as long as the parties involved are consenting adults. Some activities surrounding prostitution, particularly those that could have exploitative qualities like managing a brothel remain illegal, however it is estimated that there are around 60,000-80,000 sex workers in the UK – the majority of them being women. An investigation by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in 2016* has also called for more evidence with a view to legalising currently criminal activities surrounding prostitution. 

Advocates for the legalisation of prostitution, which include a significant portion of sex workers, feel that decriminalising the activity removes the stigma from a career that is not immoral, creates freedom of choice and protects prostitutes from violence.

Those in favour of criminalising sex work believe that the activity will always carry with it an element of unreasonable duress, is a choice made purely for economic reasons usually related to poverty, encourages human trafficking and no matter what legal protections exist, will not prevent violent incidents like rape.

Advocates could also argue that most jobs are sought out for economic reasons, are morally questionable – especially when working for large corporations – and also may involve acts of violence, like sexual harassment in the workplace.

But what about the original statistic we started the post with – that 70% of prostitutes come from the care system? The implication is that most of those offering sex work have been at one time or still are, vulnerable individuals.

Our question this week, then, is this: do you think the statistic creates a compelling argument to criminalise sex work in England and Wales?

If you would like to watch the BBC documentary, you can do so here (you have 14 days left to view the programme before it is removed from the BBC’s page).

Some thought provoking items on prostitution are added below:

Many thanks to Dana for alerting us to the article.