This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post’s website on December 13, 2013.
By: Chris Baughman; former detective, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police
Many people argue that the legalization of prostitution in this country would make all the associated problems magically disappear. After years working as a detective in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, I am here to say that it wouldn’t work.
The main arguments in favor of legalization are that it would be better because we could create safe environments for the women and men who sell sex. They could be tested regularly and work in nicer conditions with medical care, and the government could tax sales and generate more revenue.
Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but there are legal brothels in nearby towns. The impact of them is seen in Las Vegas. Girls working in the brothels include those who are sent there by pimps. Those girls are beaten and threatened — not within the walls of the brothels, but when they leave. Brothel owners either turn a blind eye to this or feel powerless to do anything. Girls may be safer from attacks by johns inside a brothel, but we cannot regulate this violence outside the brothel walls.
Pimps and traffickers have told me that when our former Mayor talked about legalizing prostitution in Las Vegas, they thought he was seeking to help them. Why wouldn’t they? Pimps could then deploy every girl they have (and more) and have them working in plain sight with impunity. They are smart criminals, and to think that they wouldn’t place girls in legal brothels is naïve at best. And when all those brothels were set up on the strip — who would feed the monster? Pimps and brothel owners would inevitably be out looking for more, newer and better boys and girls. And who would they be? They’d be our sons and daughters.
Legalization does not benefit the people selling sex; nor does legalization produce female empowerment. What it does is serve the owners of brothels, pimps and the johns who frequent them. Furthermore, it is immoral to think that the government would want any part of profiting from this behavior. We have been down that road before and that was called slavery. Legalization of prostitution would legitimatize and increase modern day slavery.
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the producers of the film TRICKED, a new documentary that sheds light on the reality of sex trafficking in the United States and follows the exploiters, the purchasers, the police officers, the survivors, the families and the social workers involved in the sex trade. The film opens on December 13. For more information about TRICKED, click here.