Get Your Info about Prostitution Here!

This post sort of fits its title, but I figure that although there may be more suitable titles, they are less likely to get Crash Landing as many hits from Google as the above is.

In any case, I'm just back from the UK, where the top news story is that a serial killer has been targeting prostitutes in the town of Ipswich. Two things on the British news coverage of the case struck me as odd:
1) Announcers kept asserting that the case was changing the public's attitude about prostitution, creating a groundswell of support for legalization. Now, I:
a) Am in favor of legalizing prostitution;
b) Consider it, in the realm of human vices, a fairly mild indulgence; and
c) Certainly do not wish to see prostitutes murdered.
Nevertheless, I found the "reasoning" here weird. If a person, before these murders, thought prostitution was a genuinely criminal activity, properly illegal, then why should these killings make any difference to his opinion? Would it make any sense, if a serial killer was targeting muggers, to decide that mugging should be made legal?
The one thing I can see that supports the change in opinion is that, perhaps, people are acknowledging that prostitution never ought to have been illegal, but only now do they have sufficient motivation to place much importance on changing the law.

2) The news broadcasts also frequently mentioned the belief that, once the first two killings had come to light, the local police should have been doing far more to protect the area's streetwalkers, thus, perhaps, saving one or more of the later victims. I had some sympathy for the conundrum facing the police in this regard: given that the average prostitute strenously is trying to avoid having her professional activities come to the notice of the law, what, exactly, were the police supposed to have been doing? Asking these ladies if a bobby could come along in the car whenever a john picked one of them up? Let them use a spare room in the police station for their engagements?


  1. The story I heard this morning about this
    series of killings mentioned that
    prostitution was already legal in Britain
    to some extent.

  2. My friend, who is a barrister, told me that everything about prostitution but the prostitution itself is illegal. So, it's illegal to run a brothel, illegal to solicit on the street, etc. But, if you just happen to run into someone and give them money for sex, that's OK.

  3. Gene,

    Believe me, I get what you're saying about the irrelevance of people dying, but is it really that crazy?

    E.g. couldn't you think that you have the right to shoot at a home intruder, but it might be imprudent if you thought you might miss (or he had buddies) who would then shoot back and maybe hit your family?

    So by the same token, there are people who think the State has the right to enforce morals. But if in the process of doing that perfectly legitimate thing, young girls end up dead who otherwise would be alive...

    (Please please please, don't post and inform me of the difference between positive and negative rights, or that a victimless crime isn't a proper crime. I'm aware of that. But Gene is accusing these people of not merely being bad on rights theory, but also being inconsistent.)

  4. Are you somewhat inclined to the hypothesis that Crash Landing has ever encountered a hit from Google?

  5. True, Bob, they may be taking Aquinas's position: it's OK to legislate morals, but only when the law is likely to do more good than harm.

  6. Anonymous11:25 AM

    As I understand it, prostitution is not illegal in the UK, but streetwalking is. So a woman can advertise in a newspaper or on the Web and meet clients that way quite legally. What is not allowed is pimping, brothels, and working as anything other than an independent contractor. All of these offenses come under the rubric of "living off immoral earnings". A lot of prostitution in the UK takes place in massage parlors of doubtful legality.

    The problem with the Ipswich victims was that they were all hard core drug addicts who would not be acceptable even in massage parlors, and who were certainly not up to marketing themselves as "high-class courtesans" or escorts.

    Everyone and their brother (or sister) in the UK has been coming out of the woodwork with proposals that go all the way from adopting the Swedish model of criminalizing the purchase of sex (but not the sale) to totally permitting it.

    Personally I can't see why not use the South American and Latin model of having certain bars and discoteqes where women and men can meet and make their arrangements. Some of my attempts to discuss these issues are chronicled on my own blog.

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