The imminent arrival of thousands of construction workers for the 2012 Olympics could cause a surge in prostitution and the spread of sexually transmitted infections, health experts say. Olympics chiefs are being urged to address the impact of the predominantly male construction workforce, which is likely to total more than 100,000 over the next four years.
More than 1,000 people are already working on preparing the site, with a further 2,000 scheduled to begin arriving within weeks as work starts on the stadium. Health organisations are warning that thousands of prostitutes, including trafficked women, are likely to arrive in the run-up to 2012.
Oh, noes! Doctor Crippen maintains that all of this is a filthy slur on construction workers...
This article is derogatory about construction workers. Are they any more likely than any other group of workers to require the services of sex workers?
Not necessarily; however, there may be reason to believe that itinerant workers of any trade are more likely to use prostitutes.
However, let us look at this from another perspective: if we did the sensible thing and legalised licensed brothels, we would not be looking upon all of this as a potential disaster but, rather, as a potentially good thing: a chance for the brothels to turn a healthy profit—after all, it seems quite likely that prostitutes are about the only people who are likely to make any money out of the looming disaster that is the 2012 Olympics.
Just think: we could have legal, licensed brothels turning over a profit (and paying tax); where the girls (and boys) are cared for, given regular medical check-ups (which are paid for by the brothel and not the taxpayer) and are protected from drug-pushing pimps and violent clients. Plus, of course, the bottom would fall out of the illegal trafficking market or, at the very least, police would be able to focus more resources on that problem.
What's not to like? Both the clients and the prostitutes themselves would be safer, healthier and happier.
So what does our government do?
Naturally, NuLabour is going the very opposite way, with Harriet Harman attempting to arrest anyone who's ever seen a damn prostitute, let alone used one.
When will people learn that prohibition simply doesn't work and that, as with drugs, the harm done by prostitution's illegality* does more damage than it would were we to make it legal and manage it safely?
UPDATE: Kim du Toit, coincidentally, writes about prostitution too and comes to the opposite conclusion. He writes from a moral standpoint, rather than my utilitarian one: however, I think that he is wrong.
Kim thinks that men and women who engage in such an act (and, for the record, I have never utilised the services of a prostitute) must feel crappy afterwards. But that, as far as I am concerned, is an issue for the two individuals concerned to deal with, not the state.
Prostitution happens; it has always happened. Since this is the case, we should make it as safe as possible and the best way to do this is to bring out from the underground and into the light. This ensures that both parties, but most especially the woman, are as comfortable and safe as they possibly can be.
Shouting that this offends your morals, it's a disgusting practice and that you hope it goes away isn't actually going to have any effect. It hasn't throughout the rest of human history: why should it be any different today?
The answer is, of course, that it isn't.
* Prostitution is not, technically, illegal. However, soliciting and living off immoral earnings are, thus precluding (at present) legalised brothels and ensuring that being a prostitute is, to all intents and purposes, illegal.