The legal options used to address prostitution include criminalization (which makes the act or practice illegal and open to penal sanctions), legalization (which permits behavior when it complies with specified regulations), and decriminalization (which makes the behavior permissible and unregulated, save for regulations that apply to all businesses, for example, fair hiring practices or sales taxes). Prostitution is criminal in forty-nine U.S. states (and two counties in Nevada), legal in thirteen Nevada counties, and decriminalized or noncriminal in most western European nations.


Support and Justifications

Those who would criminalize prostitution usually cite one of two justifications. First, they argue that criminalizing prostitution can eliminate or at least decrease it. Humanitarian or moralistic concerns generally motivate the desire to abolish prostitution. Prostitution often results in significant harm to ...

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