Neighbors for Neighbors

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[This was originally posted as a reply to another blogpost a few days ago. Since it probably got lost in the shuffle and I think it is an important post, I'd like to try to let it stand alone for a while.]

I'd like to suggest one campaign, I believe in, that few would speak up for (and is probably very controversial). That is that prostitution should be legalized, or at the very least, we should not insist that the police crack down on prostitution. Prostitution is more of in issue in other parts of the city, but it does occur in JP and it occurs rather widely in neighborhoods that border JP.

There are many reasons to legalize or decriminalize prostitution. Among the top reasons I will list here:

1. The police cannot control prostitution without violating the privacy and civil rights of individuals, some of whom are merely walking down the street, standing on the sidewalk or conversing with another individual.

2. In spite of some popular notions, prostitution is a relatively harmless and victimless “crime.”

3. Prostitutes (as well as customers) can become victims for the simple reason that prostitution is considered a crime. For example, if a young female prostitute is robbed or assaulted, she likely will not go to the police for help because she will be treated by the police as a criminal or worse.

4. Prostitutes are further victimized by a legal system that keeps them mired in a cycle of incarceration, poverty and humiliation that is nearly impossible for many women to break from.

5. Regardless of how distasteful it may be to some people, there is a market for prostitution and prostitutes provide a service. If there are men who have a desire or need to use the service of prostitutes, they probably should be allowed to. I’m not a doctor, but sometimes prohibition could have adverse effects on the mental and physical health of some individuals.

These are some of the reasons I can come up for now. I welcome responses of support or other comments. >>

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Comment by Dana Ortegon on May 31, 2011 at 4:43pm


Civil discussions = good.

But not always easy to find.

So, I appreciate the tone of this back-and-forth.


Comment by Loay on May 13, 2011 at 11:38am
It would be easier to have serious discussion if you did not have a picture of a gorilla as your avatar. And no I disagree completely with your argument.
Comment by Susan on May 10, 2011 at 12:49pm


I don't agree with a single word you have to say... but that is why America is a cool place to live.

Good luck with it... strive for what you believe.


Comment by keith barton on May 4, 2011 at 8:47pm
Even though Dana disagrees with my post, I do appreciate her thoughtful response. I will try to respond to her points as she has numbered them.

1. Civil rights violated - Yes, I can name instances, but I will not do it here. The police commit such violations on a weekly basis (conservatively speaking) in Boston. I have observed and have spoken to people about it. Naturally, the police themselves are not going to admit to committing such violations and they have the power not to do so. Victims of such violations have no recourse because such violations are not really taken seriously by the legal system.

2. Victimless crime - What I mean by prostitution is: grown women who choose to work, at least occasionally, as prostitutes. Trafficking women and girls for sexual slavery is slavery. Forcing a female to work as a prostitute is also slavery. And I believe slavery in any form should be illegal. I wish everyone thought so. It’s politically correct to say that no woman chooses to be a prostitute. But the fact is, there are many women who are not forced into prostitution. While it may be true that many of these women might be better off if they did not choose prostitution, harassing and arresting them and making them go through long, costly legal proceedings does not make their lives better. As far as men exposing spouses to stds: It’s not necessarily a prostitution issue. It might be a moral issue though. And stds frequently occur independent of prostitution.

3. Math error – I checked your math. According to your source, there were 1,021 reported rapes in Nevada in 2009. There were 1, 701 in Massachusetts. Like you said that equals 25.8 per 100K in Mass. But since there are over 2.5 million in Nevada, the rate per 100K is 38.8 not 1,021.

4. Johns in jail – This is not a solution. It’s the same as arresting prostitutes. Again, the main concern is freedom, civil rights and privacy. It’s nearly impossible for police to arrest prostitutes and customers without committing some sort of privacy or civil rights violation.

5. You do what? - I would not like it if my girlfriend or daughter etc. was a prostitute. If victims of sexual abuse are more likely to choose prostitution, that is a sad fact. But it does not/would not make things easier for everyone by making prostitution illegal. In fact, it makes things worse for the reasons I mentioned above. And I don’t think decriminalizing prostitution will make it more enticing for my girlfriend, daughter or mother or anyone else.

6. Children – The use of children in prostitution and pornography are forms of slavery and abuse. Therefore these are or should be illegal. We distinguish between children (and animals for that matter) and consenting adults for a reason.

(7.) Use a body - I realize that prostitution is not exactly like selling alcohol or marijuana. But they all involve the exchange of goods or services for money. All are or were illegal and their illegal status causes more problems than it solves.

I blogged about this because it is a subject that few would publicly talk about and, as a strong civil rights advocate, I take my stance seriously. I don’t expect to change Dana’s or Susan’s mind, but I do appreciate the opportunity to organize my thoughts about it. Finally, Dana, thank god for craigslist. Maybe we’ll cross paths there someday.
Comment by Dana Ortegon on May 4, 2011 at 12:31pm


1. Could you cite some instances -- specific to prostitution --  where individuals' privacy and civil rights have been violated when they have been "merely walking down the street, standing on the sidewalk, or conversing with another individual?" I'm just curious if this is a common occurrence.


2. I find it unacceptable that the definition of a "victimless crime" might include a young woman being brought into Boston illegally by human traffickers, held against her will and kept under control through "rapes, forced abortions, beatings with belts and beer bottles." (source: And, the men who are using these prostitutes put their spouses or other sexual partners at risk for STDs, regardless of whether they use a condom. (HPV and Herpes are easily spread by skin-to-skin contact.)


3. In Nevada, where prostitution is legal, there were 1,021 rapes per 100,000 residents in 2009. In Massachusetts, where it's illegal, there were 25.8. (of course, this *does* only account for recorded rapes) Source:


4. Maybe law enforcement should focus on putting the johns in jail and not the prostitutes.


5. My response to people who say that sex is just a "service" is usually to ask them if they would feel the same way about their daughter, wife, girlfriend, or mother performing this service. Again, I don't buy the "it's a lifestyle choice that an empowered woman can make for herself" argument that I often hear. Or, better said, I would if there weren't a clear link between childhood sexual abuse and prostitution. According to one study, "Victims of child sexual abuse are 27.7 times more likely to be arrested for prostitution as adults than non-victims. Some victims become sexual abusers or prostitutes because they have a difficult time relating to others except on sexual terms." (Widom, 1995).


6. There's a market for child pornography and child prostitutes, too. And men with both the "desire for" and the "need to use" both.


I find it hard to believe that anyone would equate the ability to buy a drink openly with the ability to use another human being's body sexually. These days free, consensual sex is easily found on craigslist or okcupid. If money changing hands is part of the thrill, do a little role-playing.


Tough subject. I agree with Susan, though. Not likely to fly anytime soon. Thank goodness. Legalizing marijuana, now that's another story....



Comment by keith barton on May 1, 2011 at 1:18pm
The prohibition against prostitution is similar to the prohibition against alcohol around the 1930s, the ongoing prohibition against marijuana and similar drugs, and the possible future prohibition against tobacco and “unhealthy” foods. We know what a disaster alcohol prohibition was - and we wisely reversed it. We are slowly realizing that drug prohibition is a waste of time, money and life.

Such prohibitions tend to increase the power of both criminals and authorities and weaken the rights of everyone else. The loss of freedom is the main concern regarding the prohibition of prostitution as well – not, as some deep-thinkers might say, “the inability to hire a prostitute.” I chose to speak up against the prohibition of prostitution because it “is not very high on the list (if at all).”

And I’m sorry if I don’t think things like - proving publicly that you paid your excise tax - are more important than freedom (see Susan’s blog April 28).
Comment by Susan on April 28, 2011 at 5:25pm

sorry man, but you just wont win over an the public with this concept.


we need to fix a LOT of things about our culture, the inability to hire a prostitute at will is not very high on the list (if at all).



Comment by Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) on April 27, 2011 at 7:26pm

Here is some information to consider:

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