Opinion: Prostitutes aren’t criminals

In an opinion published by the New York Times, Max Waltman says that we should criminalize buying sex, as they do in countries like Sweden, rather than punish prostitutes, as we do here in the U.S.

Prostitution is illegal in the U.S., of course, along with the related crime of solicitation, but Waltman argues that prostitution should be decriminalized, whereas the act of buying sex should be criminalized.

It’s a different model than we have here, a model which Waltman argues generally fails to recognize that prostitution is “an institute of inequality,” where young people get involved as children and find it very difficult to get out, usually due to a lack of education and financial resources.

Ultimately, he argues against “across-the-board” criminalization of prostitution-related sex crimes, in favor of a brand of criminal law that harbors some level of compassion for those trapped within the sex trade.

The other opinions in this New York Times debate series run the gamut from saying that legalizing prostitution leads to more sex trafficking, not less, to saying that legalization is a good thing, relatively-speaking, because doing so allows sex workers to get better protection and care.