We should repeal the laws that prevent prostitution being run like a normal business.

Other countries have done that successfully: Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria

It is wrong to ban transactions between consenting adults.

By semi-criminalising prostitution, we make it hard for honest well-run businesses to expand and drive out badly run exploitative businesses. So we keep working conditions bad at the bottom end of the scale.

Decriminalisation does not amount to State endorsement. We need to get away from the idea that the state only has two settings: compulsion and prohibition. In a free society, the state does not have a big agenda.

In Germany, some of the companies involved are listed on the stock exchange. Can you imagine listed companies in modern times using slaves or violence to control their workforces?

The state could, of course, support charities that offer help and advice to people who wish to get out of prostitution. But you do not help anyone by making their working conditions worse, or preventing them following their choice. Expand their choices yes – but just  preventing them from following their choice means they have to do something they think is even worse.

Why is this idea important?

At present, the State uses only its power against exploitative pimps and dissipates some of its power by using it against prostitutes and their clients who commit no moral wrong. If prostitution laws were repealed, the State could harness the power of the market to help drive out exploitative behaviiour – businesses with free labour beat businesses who mistreat their workers – and focus on genuinely morally wrong behaviour: violence, dishonesty.

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