Prostitution Decriminalization Campaigns in the United States: Libertarianism or a "Decent Society"
Jody Raphael is Senior Research Fellow (emerita), DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Illinois. She has been researching in the areas of prostitution and human trafficking since 2001. She is the author of four books on violence against women with particular emphasis on denial. Her latest book is Rape Is Rape: How Denial, Distortions, and Victim Blaming Are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis (Chicago Review Press paperback).
Recently, legislative campaigns to totally decriminalize the sex trade industry in a handful of U.S. states and the District of Columbia failed, but a look at campaign supporters and their arguments demonstrates that libertarian principles are mainly guiding their efforts. This article explores how libertarianism principles, when applied to the sex trade, could bring about severe and lasting harm to others, including sellers of sex, potential victims of sex trafficking to meet the new demand, and the general community. Philosophic principles of liberty have been incorporated by courts, which find that liberty is never absolute and requires a balancing test in order to create a "decent society."
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Raphael, Jody (2021) "Prostitution Decriminalization Campaigns in the United States: Libertarianism or a "Decent Society"," Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 6: Iss. 2, Article 1. https://doi.org/10.23860/dignity.2021.06.02.01
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