Prostitution and Human Rights Research Paper

Prostitution and Human Rights

In Dominican Republic, prostitution is legal. The country has decriminalized prostitution, and it views prostitution as legitimate work besides accepting prostitutes as working people. Legalization of prostitution in the Dominican Republic followed the understanding that criminalizing prostitution would only serve to drive the prostitution business into hidden economy that would make sex workers vulnerable to additional exploitation and marginalization that would leave sex workers without recourse to medical and legal protection. Freedom of occupational choice, safety and health protection, besides prosecution of perpetrators of violence against sex workers were central to the struggle of legalizing prostitution in Dominican Republic. Although prostitution is legalized in Dominican Republic and other countries such as Jamaica, it increases vulnerability of prostitutes to violence, abuse and financial mistreatment by customers and third parties. Prostitution is cruelty against women and contravenes the most fundamental human rights to integrity, dignity and sexual autonomy, and decriminalizing prostitution normalizes and regulates activities, which entail human rights infringements.

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Melinda’s Story

You cannot have humiliation and violence as part of ‘job description’ and believe that you have a job. Barry, an author, seeks to know the working conditions and experiences inside prostitution of women who view prostitution as a career choice (24). Prostitution is not a choice, but a strategy of survival. Prostitution is not a natural occurring prospect that women may want to exploit, but socially constructed out of male domination and subordination of women. Melinda had been a prostitute in the United States for several years when Barry contacted her for interview. Melinda entered into the business of prostitution when she was only fifteen years old. While waiting for a bus, a man approached her and promised to pay her fifty dollars for a date. Being a woman and in the street qualified her to be called a prostitute. She accepted the offer and learnt that being a date meant buying sex when she was taken to a hotel room. At only fifteen years, she became a sex object and she turned out to be a prostitute, a trend that she could not abandon (Barry 24). Melinda became vulnerable to sexual exploitations and she could not fight back. She became a sex object and she ascertains that some of her clients were violent to her while other behaved like sleazes. She confirmed that most customers do not respect prostitutes and would have all manner of sex as long as they have paid for the services. She confirmed that that there were times when her clients anally and orally raped her. Most clients, she said, take prostitutes as bodies to use for sex and they treat them defectively.

Prostitution, adultery and promiscuity alongside their accompanying exploitation and diseases instigate untold human alienation and misery. The degradation of the sexuality of human beings has instigated concerns through history. The sexual inclinations of some people in the society have made them seek sexual services from others in exchange for money. Those who offer sexual services are viewed as second-class people or sex slaves. Although the larger society may be right in referring to prostitutes as people who devalue themselves and people who do not recognize and protect their civil liberties, in the modern society with an example of Dominican Republic, prostitution is a legal business. In this regard, to sanction prostitution legally recognizes prostitute as legal societal members. Even in states where prostitution is legalized, their clients constantly mistreat prostitutes, an aspect that violates human rights. Besides, mistreatment, prostitutes dress immorally and use drugs and alcohol to be to handle their clients. They disrespect their bodies through exposing them to different people in the name of earning a life or seeking pleasure. All these aspects amount to violation of human rights, personal security, bodily integrity and human dignity.

I am particularly interested in this topic because it is a contentious topic that leaves people wondering whether prostitution should be made legal or not, and the fact that I come from Dominican Republic where despite legalization of prostitution, prostitutes are exploited, physically and emotionally injured, hence violation of human rights. I will challenge legalization of prostitution as a way of promoting every human privilege standards that mandates the dignity of a person and equality for all.

Violations of Human Rights through Prostitution

The human privileges of sex workers are threatened through immense and developing exploitation of women with or without consent. Whether or not prostitutes are paid for their services, when they are reduced to a body, objectified to sexually satisfy another, with or without consent, violation of human rights has occurred. A human being is the bodied self that human rights are meant to safeguard and that human growth supports. Nevertheless, in legal context, consent is the defining aspect that determines whether violation has taken place. As a result, the completeness of human experience and human self is lowered to will, consent, intent, as though these are the aspects that are entailed in violation. Human will is the cornerstone of liberal law and theory, which makes an individual in Western idea of rights (Di Nicola 89). As such, liberal legal supposition does not view oppression in prostitution, which entails violation of human rights.

Prostitution violates women’s human rights and is responsible for subordinating women. Prostitution is a form of sexual exploitation just like incest, battering, genital mutilation and rape (Di Nicola 89). Sexual exploitation refers to the practice through which women are sexually overpowered through abuse of violation of physical integrity and sexuality as a way of obtaining power and domination including gratification, advancement and financial gain (Falconberg 476). . There is no disparity amid forced and free prostitution with respect to violation of human rights. This is because women do not engage in prostitution out of free will, but because of social and financial pressures. As a result, prostitution is a manifestation of violence against females and the denunciation of prostitution, which involve contravention of the right to self-determination, must hold within itself the respect for the self-determination of adult person who are engaged in prostitution voluntarily

Prostitution deprives prostitutes their potential and completeness of humanity. Sexual subjugation, via its biological determinisms, halt female’ forward movement and hence tries to obliterate the prospects of their change, progress and growth (Di Nicola 89). Sexually subjugated women stop to be treated as if they subsist in time, and to different extent, they internalize a temporality contained by immanence. These are the situations through which the subordinated women are efficiently robbed of the potential and completeness of their humanity. To men, women are not just a diverse body, but sexed body. As a result, it is not coincidental that when females start to claim their own history, men reinvoke them as sexed body with reprisal. The retribution saturates the society with pornography and get in women’s bodies through sexual mistreatment.

Prostitution and the evil that accompany it are incompatible with values and dignity of human beings. The human body is link to a person’s inner world and the social outer world, society and self, and the body is the differentiation material location (Barry 1). The human body is the link to the world outside self by which one understand self as a distinct and separate human being. The body transcends itself and encases human experience as ‘hu-manness’ is sustained and attained through interaction with other people and with the world. The image of one’s body goes beyond the body borders, “In the construction of the body-image there is a continual testing to discover what could be incorporated into the body…..The body is a social phenomenon” (Barry 1). This statement implies that to affect a person’s image, affects the individual somatically. In this regard, the body cannot be viewed as a discrete object that can be used for sexual gains. Prostitution by consent or force, leads to exploitation of human body given that a prostitute puts her body for sale.

Prostitution reduces the worth of human being. Prostitution is the act of engaging in licentious sexual relations for fiscal gain. Persons who through consent get involved in prostitution do not respect their civil liberties and dignity as respectable human beings (Cameron and Collins 275). Prostitution as highlighted in Melinda’s story involves some dubious actions, which causes disturbing and physical harms. Koltra, an author, affirms that men seeking the services of prostitutes physically and emotionally injure these women (181). While prostitution may be a source of income and pleasure, its repercussions instigate social and health problems. While prostitution in countries like Dominican Republic is a good and a quick source of income and tax revenues, it instigates health infections and economic issues as huge amount of revenue is directed to finding solutions to address the health issues. In this regard, prostitution despite generating huge amount of revenue causes life-threatening diseases such as HIV / AIDS, and even death.

Prostitution causes risk of work-related mortality. According to Bishakha and Dianne, human rights lawyers and writers, over ninety percent of prostitutes want to escape from this profession, while almost seventy percent of prostituted females achieve the decisive factor for diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder while fifteen percent of all completed suicides are upshots of prostitution (28). A report about pornography and prostitution indicated that females in prostitution hold a mortality rate forty times higher compared to the national average (Dianne 28).People who gets involved in prostitution by consent engage in unhealthy activities. Melinda confirmed that when she was in the business of prostitution, she was raped both anally and orally.

Most clients who consume services of prostitutes are ill minded and have interests in violating human rights through transmission of infectious diseases. Whether or not pornographic materials prompt the fantasies of men who buy the services of prostitutes, some of these clients are ill minded and have interests in violating human rights through transmission of infectious diseases. According to Cameron and Collins, the greatest challenge in the prostitution trade is fear of contraction of HIV / AIDS (275). This is doubtless because some of the clients hold in mind other ill intentions besides using the services of prostitutes. With the issue of sexually transmitted diseases, emotional and physical injuries, and death experienced by prostitutes, it is clear that even legalization of prostitution cannot solve the issue of violation of human rights evident in prostitution. It is not apparent which polices the governing authorities can implement to curtail the concern of sexually transmitted diseases in prostitution even after its legalization. It is evident that even if there are potential, policies that can be employed to manage and reduce new infections; these policies can never function in the field of prostitution given that sex is an activity that involves only two people in closed door and not in the public. Apparently, HIV positive persons with the intention of transmitting the killer disease to unnoticing people are everyday customers of prostitution (Cameron and Collins 275).

Legalization of prostitution offers approval to violence, devaluation and control of women. Through legalizing prostitution, a country imposes laws with which they can manipulate one class of women as prostituted (Bishakha and Dianne 28). In fact, prostitution does involve only personal discrimination, abuse or exploitation by a man, but it also involves a structure that reflects and upholds inequality among males and females. Prostitution is a business for devalued class of women who can take violence and exploitation as part of their job description. When violence is aimed at a portion of world’s population, it undermines the whole configuration of human rights. While the society strives to eliminate dangerous situations to allow people to work safely, the risky working condition cannot be eliminated in prostitution given that the practice of prostitution is itself the harm.

Prostitution entails colonization of women and children. According to Scrambler, an author, prostitution is the establishment upon which the sexual mistreatment of children and women is developed (69). Prostitution is an institution that lowers women to a sexual commodity to be sold, bought and abused. It entails a portion of the broad systematic abuse, objectification and commoditization of females as a sex class. It is part of the broad abuse against women carried out by men. Scrambler affirms that sexual colonization of bodies of women is a material reality, and the establishments of this colonization include pornography, law, prostitution and marriages. Part of this colonization relies on presenting prostitution as a private contract (Scrambler 70). Just like any other type of capitalist enterprise, prostitution is considered as a private business where the contract between a prostitute and client entails a private arrangement amid a seller and a buyer.

Prostitution violates human rights through organ trading and lowers the human value and sexual activity’s value. The major core values of human privileges include bodily integrity and human dignity. As a result, prostitution entails infringement of human rights given that organ trading is an example of violation of bodily integrity and human dignity. Although women do not completely exchange their sexual organs for money, they use these organs as a source of income (Gruen 103). Selling sexual services is a trade that exposure of human organs. Prostitution is a dangerous practice and the fact that it involves selling of sexual services for financial gains or pleasures, separate it from human rights. Apparently, prostitution holds negative effects on sexual activity and on the value of women. When sex from women is sold and bought, this action lowers the sexuality value besides reducing women to sex objects that can be bought anytime, anywhere by a willing buyer. Men who regularly use the services of prostitutes treat sexual activity as a recreational practice instead of an intimate act. Similarly, these men view women as less worthy of respect.

Prostitution annihilates the moral and social establishment of nation and creates way for immorality. As indicated earlier in the paper, prostitution is not a choice. The concern of consent and choice as an assessment tool on incompatibility of prostitution and human rights does not add value in comprehending prostitution as an establishment (Gruen 103). Prostitution survives as an organization that necessitates provision of women bodies. As a result, women and girls are deceived, kidnapped, persuaded or enticed to fulfill that supply. Most prostitutes are trafficked people, and human trafficking is a practice that violates human privileges. Kotrla, an author, asserts that most of women in the business of prostitution engaged in the practice as children and teenagers (181). For instance, Melinda entered the sex industry while she was a teenager, 14 years, and did not want to leave the business even after she realized it was wrong to engage in prostitution. The indulgence of most teenagers into sexual activities is partly enhanced through human trafficking practices where poor children are trafficked to serve the sex industry, which is legal in some countries. Moreover, the subjection of children to pornography distorts their innocent and young minds leading them to joining prostitution at young age.

Prostitution is not about persons, it is an establishment of male dominance in the society. Prostitution is about a worldwide industry through which the prostituting of women is packaged in novel ways vial sex entertainment, computer pornography, technology and tapping novel markets. Given that prostitution is not about persons, it is not about choice. However, prostitution entails the absence of meaningful alternatives; having optional paths to survival cut off. Nothing illustrates this more openly than the reality that most prostitutes had entered into the sex industry as children while other has a past where they were sexually abused. There are others factors such as lack of education, poverty, human trafficking and homelessness. In Dominican Republic for instance, there is a huge population of minors for who streets have become their home, and who have faced the hostile world from an early age. Most of these street children beg as a way of survival, a third of them turn to robbery and other means of enhancing their survival while a fifth of them engage in prostitution (Johnson 82). The fact that prostitution in this country is legal, these children engage in prostitution to support themselves. Given their desperation, they end up being hurt and their human rights violated. While there is different reasons why people engage in sex such as for pleasure, to have children, deepen intimacy or for duty, prostitutes engage in sex to earn a living.

Prostitution is manipulative and exploitative. While it is legal for adults to engage in sexual activities, those who engage in prostitution violates their human rights given that their do not uphold their bodily integrity, but use their body as a source of income. Well, while all other livelihood alternatives are founded on using of one or more body parts, prostitution is undervaluing, manipulative and exploitative. All human beings have rights to work and engage in any form of work that their desire. Legalizing prostitution offers prostitutes the prospects to earn a living just like other people in other forms of employment. In addition, legalizing prostitution promotes a country’s revenue, but it leads to violation of human rights. It should be noted that prostitution is a practice that entails two people and what transpires between them is not subject to the public. As a result, most prostitutes end up being physically and emotionally hurt, an aspect that violates their rights as human beings.

Violations of human rights in prostitution cannot be solved through decriminalizing prostitution. Instead, legalizing prostitution open channels of violence against women. As a result, the governing authority should look into the major reasons why people engage in prostitution and address these issues. This is because illegalizing prostitution as well cannot solve the problem of prostitution and violation of human rights and so is legalizing it. Prostitutes operating in countries where prostitution is legal and prostitutes operating in countries where it is illegal report cases of abuse. While laws that ensures health, provision of improved working conditions and prevention of abuse may be employed following legalization of prostitution, cases of violence, abuse and exploitation cannot cease because prostitution is private enterprise that entails two people who engage in a contract where one offer services and the other pay for the services (Di Nicola 89). These services are provided in private settings. Moreover, the fact that prostitution entails putting one’s body for sale and as a sex object, it violates human rights and legalizing prostitution cannot do anything to stop these violations. In fact, legalization of prostitution would instigate more evils practices such as human trafficking that accompany the practice of prostitution.


Prostitution amount to violence against females, and it is a basic contravention of human rights. Prostitution whether, forced or consented, is inherently abusive and dangerous; it violates body integrity and human dignity. The fundamental human rights emphasizes on the right to psychological and physical integrity as well as right to life. Going back to the Melinda’s story, her basic human rights as human being were violated. Getting involved in prostitution at the age of 14 is itself violation of human rights given that she was a minor when she entered into the sex industry. Moreover, Melinda confirms that she was abused physically and emotionally, and being orally and anally raped by her clients involved negative upshots on her dignity and bodily integrity. Her clients took her as sex object that could be used in all manners because she was being paid for the services rendered. When a woman’s body and her sexual ability is exploited and used as a product, it instigates health, social, ethical issues and violation of human rights. Prostitution reduces the human worth, increases danger of mortality, lowers the value of sexual activity, involves colonization of women and prompts other forms of evil acts such as human trafficking. In this regard, prostitution is cruelty against women and contravenes the most fundamental human rights to integrity, dignity and sexual autonomy, and decriminalizing prostitution normalizes and regulates activities, which brings about human rights infringements.

Work Cited

Barry, Kathleen. The prostitution of sexuality. New York: NYU Press, 1995.

Bishakha, Datta, Dianne, Post. Should prostitution be legalized. New Internationalists,

461(2013): 28-30.

Cameron Samuel and Alan Collins. Estimates of a Model of Male Participation in the Market

for Female Heterosexual Prostitution. European Journal of Law and Economics, 16.3


Di Nicola, Andrea. Prostitution and human trafficking: Focus on clients. London: Springer, 2009

Falconberg, Suki. The raped vagina: A military prostitute’s story. Texas: iUniverse, Aug 26,


Gruen, Lori. Ethics and animals: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Feb

3, 2011.

Johnson, Dale. Why should we care. London:, Jul 30, 2007.

Kotrla Kimberly. Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in the United States. National Association of Social Work, 55.2 (2010):181-187.

Scrambler, Graham. Rethinking prostitution: Purchasing sex in the 1990s. New York:

Routledge, 1997.

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