Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

The oldest profession: what’s its status?


Although midwifery is probably an older profession, everyone knows what is being referred to when mentioning the “world’s oldest profession“, and that’s prostitution. So how is prostitution faring these days? It really depends on where you look.

In most parts of the world prostitution is illegal. Penalties range from fines to life imprisonment. Again, depending where you are, the penalties will apply either to the seller, the purchaser, or both. However, the illegality of prostitution in these counties has had little, if any, effect in stopping the practice. The most noticeable effect is that prostitution is controlled by the criminal world.

Some other countries have taken another approach and while not criminalising prostitution itself, criminalise activities around prostitution, such as soliciting, running a brothel and living of the earnings of a prostitute. In these countries too, organised crime are big players in the sex industry.

A few, a very few, have decriminalised prostitution. New Zealand has probably the most liberal prostitution laws of any country. These were liberalised in 2003 and although some religious groups were predicting our streets would become awash with sex, debauchery and organised crime, little has changed except sex workers are protected by our employment laws.

There has not be a rise in the number of sex workers. In fact there may have been a small decline as it is now much easier to leave the industry. And because prostitution is not criminalized, there is little room for the criminal underworld to manoeuvre.

The Prostitutes Collective have a web page summarising the current law, and there is an interesting,  2007 Report on The Impact of the Prostitution Reform Act on the Health and Safety Practices of Sex Workers (213 page PDF document) carried out by the University of Otago in 2007, if you’d like dig a little deeper.

While I’m not condoning prostitution in any way, from the evidence I have seen, I believe decriminalisation is the least harmful method of dealing with it. What’s your view?



Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

10 thoughts on “The oldest profession: what’s its status?

  1. I agree Barry. I also think that pot should be decriminalized and the same rules applied to its use as we apply to alcohol.

    • Pot isn’t legal here yet, but synthetic cannabinoids are.

      It appears that there may be a move afoot to take an official look at the possibility of legalising marijuana for medicinal use, but it;s well down the list of things to do by the current government.

  2. Nevada is the only state in the U.S. that has legalized prostitution, and so far there haven’t been any major problems associated with it. From what I understand about how it was criminalized in the U.S., it was mostly over preventing “white slavery” than in actually advocating for women’s rights.

    My personal view is that if it’s going to happen anyways, then might as well make it legal. At least then it can be taxed, and people who engage in it can have legal benefits. They don’t have to hide what they are doing, either. And there’s less of a stigma attached to it.

    Then again, if there is data showing that legalizing it still harms people, I’d be interested in finding it.

    Great post, Barry.

    • Prostitution is legal in only eight counties, and there’s a total of less than 20 legal brothels in the entire state of Nevada. Brothels are highly regulated. Even in Nevada, more than 50 times as much money is spent on illegal prostitution than leagal prostitution.

      Compare that to NZ where brothels do not need to be licensed, (but if a brothel has more than 4 employees, then the person in charge must hold an operator’s certificate), prostitutes are not registered, and soliciting is not a criminal offence.

      Perhaps one way of looking at it would be to say that prostitution has been legalised in some Nevada counties, but prostitution has been decriminalised in NZ.

      Decriminalisation refers to the removal of all criminal laws relating to the operation of the sex industry. The decriminalisation model aims to support occupational health and safety and workplace issues through existing legal and workplace mechanisms.

      Refers to the use of criminal laws to regulate or control the sex industry by determining the legal conditions under which the sex industry can operate. Legalisation can be highly regulatory or merely define the operation of the various sectors of the sex industry. It can vary between rigid controls under legalised state controlled systems to privatising the sex industry within a legally defined framework. It is often accompanied by strict criminal penalties for sex industry businesses that operate outside the legal framework.

  3. Barry I agree. Criminalising things that some people are going to do, creates a job for the criminal underworld.
    There is only one thing I have an issue with and I don’t think there is a contradiction with my other stands, and that is easy access of guns

  4. Other than Nevada, which has already been mentioned in the comments, prostitution in the U.S. will never be legalized or even decriminalized because there are so many Christian conservatives who are in charge. Hell, some states won’t allow sex education in schools unless it focuses exclusively on abstinence and some require the teaching of creationism along side evolution in science classes. Legalize prostitution in the U.S.? Ha!

    • I have no problem with the teaching of creationism. It should be taught in the same classes where students learn about other myths and legends and ancient cultures. Definitely a place for it, but most certainly not in science class!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s