From a reader who has worked with sex workers in several countries:
Your reader with mixed feelings about prostitution states:
My concern is that legitimizing [sex work] might make it more common because being poor is becoming more common in this society. If we had a more robust social safety net, I’d be less concerned.
In many parts of the world, prostitution is legal, and in many of those places—Colombia and the Dominican Republic, for example—there are many poor women who work in the sex trade. In Cambodia, where sex work is not legal but largely tolerated, there are occasional crackdowns on sex workers by the police working with NGOs, often in response to U.S. State Department pressure. The NGO solution is to divert the women to the garment industry to make cheap clothes for Americans and other Westerners. However, many women return to sex work because the working conditions and pay are so poor in the garment industry: