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Decriminalising all aspects of prostitution — including brothel-owning and sex-buying — will, according to this argument, make life safer for these women, and also make it easier to root out abuse. Decriminalising the selling of sex — so that only buyers are breaking the law — means prostitutes themselves are not penalised.
But even where only the buying of sex is a criminal offence, it is argued, prostituted women are forced to take risks.
In recent years this argument has made big advances. In the Netherlands made formal what had already been acceptable for some years, and lifted the ban on brothels , in effect legalising the sex trade.
Three years later the New Zealand government passed, by one vote, the New Zealand Prostitution Reform Act which decriminalised street-based prostitution and brothel-keeping. There is no way to make it safe, and it should be possible to eradicate it. Abolitionists do not consider prostitution to be about sex or sexual identity, but rather a one-sided exploitative exchange rooted in male power.
They believe the progressive solution to the sex trade is to assist women to exit, and criminalise those who drive the demand. If prostitution is framed as work, it stands to reason that the workers require rights. The fact that the brothel this young woman was being sold from was legally sanctioned and seen as a business — no different from a restaurant — meant that the pimp was able to present herself as doing her employee a favour by giving her a job.