Nevada’sLegal Brothel System as a Model for Reducing Harm in Prostitution
Nevada’sLegal Brothel System as a Model for Reducing Harm in Prostitution
Prostitutionis rendered illegal by law everywhere in the U.S except for the stateof Nevada where it is legal in 8 counties (Nevada Department ofPublic Safety, 2016). According to recent studies, policing andlegalizing indoor prostitution is a better approach thancriminalization of the same. The present study aims at showing howNevada’s legal brothel system is the most efficient way ofregulating and minimizing the harm associated with prostitution.
Purposeof the Study
Despiteprostitution being extensively criminalized in the U.S, the vice isstill widely practiced. Illegal prostitution is often associated withharms such as STIs, community disorder, and violence againstprostitutes. The most efficient harm reduction strategy is one thatwill simultaneously suppress demand for black market prostitution andreduce prostitution’s harmful effects (Weitzer, 2015). This studywill assess how the legalization of brothels in Nevada is the mostviable harm reduction approach.
ResearchQuestions and Indication of Expected Outcomes
Prostitutionis regarded a vice by society with very little documentation onimpacts of legalizing the behavior, which has over the years provento be a necessary evil. This study seeks to address questions onthis, with a bias in Nevada’s legal brothel system. All forms ofprostitution are associated with untold violence which begs thequestions, does the legal brothel system in Nevada reduce violence?Does the system provide an orderly and safe alternative to blackmarket prostitution? And most importantly, is the society willing tosupport indoor prostitution that saves us the harm community order asa result of street prostitution?
Toadequately answer these questions, I will conduct a study on arrestrates within counties in Nevada where prostitution is either legal orillegal. With all the advantages associated with legalizingprostitution, it is expected that sex workers will prefer the safelegalized indoor practice as compared to the violent street form.Therefore, prostitution-related arrest rates will significantlyreduce as a result of legalization. In other words, if Nevada’slegal brothels effectually subdue demands for harmful and illegalprostitution, it means that prostitution arrest rates in countieswith legal brothels should be low as compared to counties withillegal brothels.
Aperfect harm reduction agenda is not achieved throughcriminalization, but by policing the vice. For instance, inalleviating the issue of the black market for stolen antiques,Weitzer (2015), argued the problem could be solved by allowing analternative that is, a legitimate commerce on antiquities. Moreover,most social problems such as drug abuse and HIV are addressed andregulated such practices could be extended to solving the problem ofprostitution. The present study seeks to provide insights for abetter substitute to traditional criminalization.
Farleyet al. (2014) conducted a study in San Francisco where he interviewed150 prostitutes, regarding violence associated with prostitution. Ashocking 82% claimed to have been physically abused by clients. Inaddition, over 68% of the sample were diagnosed with adverse symptomsof Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Still on the same, Raymond (2014)conducted numerous studies on prostitutes in Thailand, Indonesia, andVenezuela and recorded that 70% of them were illegally trafficked andwere under the control of substance abuse, 75% of them were verballythreatened, and 83% were emotionally abused.
Perkins(1912) conducted studies on sex workers in illegal brothels andreported that only 77% of them claimed to have contracted STIs in thediscourse of prostitution. Furthermore, Weitzer (2015) interviewed113 street prostitutes in Italy and reported an alarming 68% claimednot to use protection with clients. Perkins (1996) also conducted astudy on private contractors in Sydney he referred to them as ‘callgirls.’ Perkin (1996) found encouraging results. 88% of themclaimed to use protection and received a monthly screening on STDs.Only a mere 13.6% of them reported having encountered problems withcustomers not wanting to use protection.
Numerousstudies have recommended legalization as a better approach tosuppressing the harms of illegal prostitution. Weitzer (2015) in hisresearch, noted that 74% of Nevada’s population were in support ofthe state law on legalizing indoor prostitution and that 78% claimedthat the legal brothel system had no impacts on the state’s tourismindustry. Licensing of brothels in Nevada is allowed by the state lawin counties with a population of above four hundred thousand.However, brothels are not allowed anywhere closer than 500yards tobusiness streets, religious buildings, and schools (Hausbeck &Brents, 2012).
Accordingto Hausbeck and Brent (2012), Nevada’s brothel environment is wellequipped with safety provisions. First, they are located in publicareas with keen scrutiny by supervisors and security guards. Second,the supervisors listen to discussions between the client and theprostitute. Moreover, panic buttons are installed in the lodgings,and the prostitute can always call for help in case of any situation.
Hausbeckand Brent (2012), interviewed 40 sex workers among 15 brothels inNevada and gathered encouraging data. All prostitutes articulated touse protection regardless of customer’s preference. In addition,all the interviewees had a clear understanding of STD-linked risks.However, the prostitutes reported that 75% of the customer’sdecided to use protection after the sex workers stated they do notengage any sort of penetration or fellatio without the use of acondom. Also, 14% of these customers opted for non-penetration andpreferred massage or hand stimulation services. Nevertheless,Hausbeck and Brent (2012), reported that there had been no case ofHIV conveyed in Nevada’s legal brothels since the commence of the1985 compulsory testing. Also, it is worth noting that allinterviewees, claimed work in the brothels at their own will.
Thetwo variables under study include ‘Legal Brothels Arrest Rates’vs. ‘Illegal Brothels Arrest Rates,’ in Nevada as per the 2016statistics. To prove that legal prostitution is a preferablealternative to the harmful and illegal street prostitution and thatit is a better alternative to criminalization, I will study arrestrates in both Legal brothels and illegal brothels in Nevada.
Forthe present study, I will focus on a population of 6 counties in theState of Nevada namely, Carson City, Clark, Douglas, Lyon, Washoe,and White Pine. I will assess the county’s Arrest Rates forCommercialized Vice and Prostitution in Nevada, 2016. Out of the 6counties studied, prostitution is illegal in only two countiesnamely, Clark and Washoe. Interestingly, out of the 17 counties inNevada, prostitution is illegal in only these two counties.
Toget satisfactory data on ‘Legal Brothels Arrest Rates’ vs.‘Illegal Brothels Arrest Rates,’ I will assess each county’sarrest data in relation to its population. I will gather this datafrom the Nevada Department of Public Safety (2016). Moreover, I willuse data provided by the Nevada’s Uniform Crime Report, as itissues a list of for commercialized vices and prostitution arrests.If indeed Nevada’s legal prostitution policy does suppress illegaland harmful prostitution, it is expected that counties with illegalbrothels will have the highest arrest rates in the state.
Usinginformation from the Nevada Department of Public Safety (2016) anddata gathered from the UCR, I will draft a table that compares ArrestRates in Nevada’s counties with legal and illegal brothels. Arrestrates refer to the ratio of total arrests made to the totalpopulation within a county. It is assumed that if the legal brothelsystem effectually overpowers demands for harmful and illegalprostitution, the arrest rates in counties with legal brothels,should be extremely low as compared to counties with illegalbrothels. Check the table below.
Source:Nevada Department of Public Safety (2016).
Asexpected, prostitution arrest rates are higher in counties runningillegal brothels that is, Washoe and Clark Counties. This is thesame for all the other counties not listed in the table above. Thehigh arrest rates in the Washoe and Clark counties is also as aresult of the close proximity to Reno and Las Vegas, respectively.
Implicationsto the Field of Human Service
Legalizationof prostitution has proven to be a potential and preferablealternative to the criminalization of black market prostitution, asit effectively subdues the demands of the illegal practice. Thepresent study has shown how Nevada’s legal brothel systemalleviates the issue of harms associated with illegal prostitution.In regards to human services, possible solutions to the menace aresuch as imposing taxes on the business, mandatory medical checkups,zoning prostitution areas, registering sex workers, licensing andvetting of brothel workers, and most importantly, regular inspectionof legal brothels by government officials. Furthermore, forlegalization to be in effect, it needs to be enforced in areas whereharms of black market prostitution are mostly reported. Also, thecriminal justice department only focuses on prostitutes leaving outother key players, the customers. According to Weitzer (2015), forproductive results, control emphasis needs to be placed on demand andnot on supply. However, legalizing prostitution will encourage sexualsins such as adultery, fornication and homosexual behaviors that arecontrary to most ethical teachings.
Brents,B. G., & Hausbeck, K. (2012). Violence and Legalized BrothelProstitution in Nevada Examining Safety, Risk, and ProstitutionPolicy. Journalof interpersonal violence, 20(3),270-295.
Farley,M., Cotton, A., Lynne, J., Zumbeck, S., Spiwak, F., Reyes, M. E., …& Sezgin, U. (2014). Prostitution and trafficking in ninecountries: An update on violence and posttraumatic stressdisorder. Journalof trauma practice, 2(3-4),33-74.
NevadaDepartment of Public Safety. (2016). Crimeand Justice in Nevada.Retrieved fromhttp://nvrepository.state.nv.us/ucr/annual/2008CrimeJustice.pdf.
Perkins,R., & Lovejoy, F. (2012). Female brothel workers and call girls(private sex workers) in Sydney. Australianand New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 20(5),512-516.
Raymond,J. G. (2014). Prostitution on demand legalizing the buyers as sexualconsumers. ViolenceAgainst Women, 10(10),1156-1186. Perkins (1996)
Weitzer,R. (2015). New directions in research on prostitution. Crime,Law and Social Change, 43(4-5),211-235.