Prostitution Policies in the United States

Prostitution is sometimes called the “world’s oldest profession”, but definitions and laws vary among jurisdictions as a variety of different legal models exist around the world, including bans that only target the customers and laws that permit both prostitution and organizations. It is illegal in the United States, so most states punish the prostitute and the customer, with the exception of 10 Nevada counties, which means that, overall, it is limitedly legal. Prostitution is considered a form of sex work, but states like Florida define prostitution as “the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire”, while the supreme court of California has held that the production of pornographic films is not prostitution.

 

It was at one time considered a vagrancy crime, but today, in Nevada, there are regulated active brothels in eight counties. The question if prostitution should remain illegal is highly controversial because there are some who argue that it is a matter of human rights for people to decide for themselves, noting that no law has ever prevented prostitution. The other counties theoretically allow brothel prostitution, while street prostitution, and living off of the proceeds of a prostitute remain illegal, as is the case elsewhere in the country.

 

Opponents of legal prostitution argue that it is damaging to those engaged in it, focusing on female sex workers, but transgender people are also involved. Indoor prostitution became legal in Rhode Island due to an unintentional loophole, but the state enacted legislation on Nov. 3, 2009. State and local laws in 49 U.S. states prohibit prostitution, in the context of human trafficking, or with regard to acts occurring on federal property, and the Nevada counties that allow prostitution require registration.

 

As with other countries, in the U.S. there are three categories: street prostitution, brothel prostitution and escort prostitution. Prosecutors have brought down some prostitution rings, but meanwhile many countries allow prostitution, including the Netherlands and Mexico, or prohibit only brothels, such as Canada. The rise of the Internet made prostitution more accessible as previously it required direct interaction which often involved the prostitute standing in a public location or in a single building to which clients would come.

 

Sweden and Iceland have enacted laws in which the act of selling sex is legal. This is a result of state laws rather than federal laws, but it occurs throughout the country, although it is exclusively the domain of the states to prohibit commercial sex, except insofar as Congress may regulate it with laws like the Mann Act. Prostitution is defined as the granting of sexual acts in exchange for compensation and has been an area of increasing concern in recent years, as a result of an increase in human trafficking, the act of moving people against their will.

 

In the past it was relatively easy for police to monitor, however, the Internet allowed anyone to offer sex services, screen potential clients, and this has led to an explosion in the sex trade and pornography, causing a dramatic boom in the legal sex industry, unfortunately.

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