There are advocates who suggest that legalizing and regulating prostitution can be a way to combat human trafficking. Even Catholic Bishop Vaclav Maly, the Auxiliary Bishop of Prague, made a statement in favor of legalization. But that is not a solution.
In April 2002, Bishop Maly said to Radio Prague, “The chances of eliminating it are practically nil…Under those circumstances, it is better to keep it in check and under control by giving it a legal framework. This is not to say that I approve of brothels—but it seems to me that it would be better to have prostitution take place there—with medical checks-ups and prostitutes paying taxes. It would be the lesser of two evils.”
By legalizing prostitution, a government is passively saying that exploitation of women and children is acceptable because we get a cut of the tax revenue. But legalized prostitution promotes the exploitation and degradation of women and children. If there were no demand for bought sex acts, there would be no victims bought and sold into slavery.
Can’t trafficking victims just ask for help?
The answer is no. The United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that victims of sex trafficking have been “conditioned” into the trade by methods like starvation, rape, physical abuse, forced drug use, and threats of violence to the victims’ families. Traffickers teach the victims how to talk and behave when speaking with law enforcement or social services. No one chooses to be a victim of this type of exploitation. Traffickers steal victims from the streets, feed them ideas for a better life, and then take away everything and strip away their identities.
The United States Department of Justice estimates that 100,000-300,000 American kids are trafficked for the sex trade within the United States every year. These numbers are outrageous, and part of the reason traffickers get away with exploitation is that there is not enough community awareness. Many Americans believe that human trafficking occurs only in places like Thailand, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, but that is not the case. Trafficking happens in the United States and traffickers perceive little risk in the industry because the community is unaware of the issue.