In this short documentary, Reason profiles the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a brothel located in one of Nevada’s isolated counties—the only places in the U.S. where prostitution is legal and regulated:
Any thoughts on the Nevada model discussed in the video? This part of the Wiki page stood out:
- the licensing requirements create a permanent record which can lead to discrimination later on;
- the large power difference between brothel owner and prostitute gives prostitutes very little influence over their working conditions;
- while prostitutes undergo legal and health background checks, their customers do not; the regulations are thus designed to protect customers, not prostitutes.
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In the context of this debate, I think we need to remember that not everything we disapprove of needs to be illegal. For example, there is widespread societal disapproval of adultery outside the context of e.g. open relationships (disapproval of other people’s adultery, at least!), but it’s not illegal.
Also, behavior that’s harmful to those voluntary participants isn’t necessarily illegal. Someone drinking themselves blackout drunk every night is certainly harmful to the drinker, but unless they do something that harms someone else, it’s not illegal.
I think the question is whether making something illegal is an effective and appropriate way of dealing with a situation that we disapprove of or is harmful to the participants. The Swedish model seems to be based on a feeling that we disapprove of buying sex more than selling it because the former is seen as exploitative, and maybe that’s a correct analysis of the situation. But is the Swedish model an *effective* way of decreasing this exploitation relative to legalizing or decriminalizing both the sale and the purchase?