Freshman editorial: legalize prostitution

One University of Houston freshman argues that prostitution, the nation's oldest industry, should be legalized.

Natalia Marfil, who studies creative writing at the university, wrote an opinion piece for the school’s paper, The Cougar, arguing that prostitution is equivalent to marijuana, abortions, and gay marriage, and should thus be legalized throughout the U.S.

“It is no surprise that with the recent, morally controversial state-level legalization of marijuana, abortion and same-sex marriage, the legalization of our history’s oldest profession, prostitution, has also been brought into question,” Marfil wrote.

Marfil also claimed that legalizing prostitution would benefit the economy by creating a federally regulated and taxable profession.

“If Americans do not have empathy for sex workers, perhaps they will care for their country’s economy,” she wrote. “Similar to how marijuana is being taxed by state governments, prostitution also has the potential to be taxed, as well as to provide jobs for both prostitutes and government regulators.”

The freshman said that people who oppose the legalization of prostitution are “blinded by their own personal moral and emotional responses to the topic.”

However, according to The Economist, the profitability of prostitution is going downhill. In five of seven major U.S. cities studied, the underground sex industry shrank from 2003 to 2007 and has lost up to 34 percent in revenue over this time, researchers concluded.

In addition to creating tax revenues, Marfil suggested that legalizing the profession would improve working conditions for those in the sex trade.

An estimated 4.5 million women, men, and children around the world are trapped in forced sexual exploitation. Of those, between 14,500 and 17,500 are trafficked in the United States annually.

The FBI runs several initiatives to fight the illegal trade.

“We’re working hard to stop human trafficking—not only because of the personal and psychological toll it takes on society, but also because it facilitates the illegal movement of immigrants across borders and provides a ready source of income for organized crime groups and even terrorists,” the agency boasts on its website.

Data from the U.S. Department of Justice found that the number of convictions related to trafficking investigations and prosecutions has risen 360 percent between 2001 and 2007 compared to the previous seven year period.

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