For many years now I’ve been an advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work – which I benefit from here in NSW (and increasingly in other states and territories here in Australia and New Zealand). I encourage decriminalisation because it is very good for the health and safety and general well-being of sex workers and clients.
Now there is evidence that it is good for the rest of society as well. I was sent a link to an article that reported on a recent study of 31 European countries from 1990 to 2017 which shows that countries that liberalised their sex work laws saw a decrease in instances of rape. Where as countries that cracked down in sex work saw an increase in instances of rape.
So there we have it. Consensual sex work makes society safer (it wasn’t clear from the article if the statistics were gendered or not).
I’m pleased to hear this news and it adds yet another reason to support decriminalisation.
One unexpected result from the study was that countries that criminalised the purchase of sex but not the sale of sex had the worst outcomes. I doubt that will make the people who are fighting to “abolish” sex work, especially through the criminalisation of its purchase, stop and think about the harm that they are actually doing to their society. But at least it’s empirical evidence to throw in the face of the lawmakers who listen to them and vote to criminalise sex work on the basis of “protecting women”.
We are extremely lucky here in most of Australia and New Zealand – as sex workers and as clients. It is easy to forget that the all of the rest of the world labours under some sort of criminalisation of sex services. For all our faults as a society here in Australia we have at least gotten that right.