I read the thread below and the enclosed video clip ,which relates to a legal judgement in the Canadian province of Ontario with interest:
The criminal law professor in the clip states, that in his opinion, the decriminalisation of prostitution in Ontario would reduce trafficking. Conversely, I believe that if a law is brought in here which criminalises those who pay for sex, that in the long run this will actually provide an insentive for traffickers and lead to more trafficking. The logic of my arguement, which is based on human behaviour and economics is as follows:
Some posters have posted that if this law is introduced that it will not affect their punting habits, but that's easy to type at the end of a key board and before ordinary men and some respected members of the community have been plastered across the national or local newspapers for have been summoned under this law. I would imagine that rather then a custodial sentence, first time offenders will receive a fine and maybe the probation act will be applied, but it will be the publicity surrounding the court case which will do the damage.
For many clients, especially those with wives/families, good positions, those employed in the public sector, or anybody of social standing who values their position and who would be damaged by a loss of reputation, this would be a frightening scenario and I can see many of them stoping punting or changing their punting habits. This may result in individual clients ceasing to punt, punting less, reverting to outcall, either to their home or booking into a hotel for this purpose, or travelling abroad to punt.
So what will this mean for the escorts?
Firstly, I foresee less punting activity in general, and particular from what I will call the ABC class of clients. Many of these will be the very ones who can afford to spend the most on their "hobby", but they will also be those who stand to lose the most if caught. So not only will income drop, but the type of clients that escorts will tend to be getting are those that have least to lose or fear from a criminal conviction.
Now as we are all aware, escorts tend to choose to reside or tour in those countries that are both reasonably escort friendly, or at worst escort neutral and where they have the prospects of earning good money. The changes that such a new law would cause to their working environment and earnings, would no doubt result in many escorts who have a choice in such matters leaving our shores. The fact that there would now be reduced numbers of independent escorts here would make things much more difficult for those independents who choose to remain. It would increase the probability that the gardai would be able to monitor them (Garda resources would be spread less thinly than before), it would mean that the traffickers and the pimps had less independents competing with them and it would therefore be easier to target those that remained, and it would also mean that those who were left would be dealing with more time wasters and the probabilty of encountering a dangerous individual targetting escorts for whatever purpose would increase.
The negatives for the genuine punters would be, that apart from the risks they run punting under the new law, they would find that escorts had become far more caughtious, reduced escort numbers would mean less choice (maybe no escorts in some locations) plus higher prices, and in some cases substantially higher if clients are resorting to booking into hotels for outcalls.
The reduction in the number of independent escorts working in Ireland would create a vacuum and the increased prices that would now be charged as a result of driving the business underground would be just the incentive that the traffickers would need to bring in their girls and try to control the market. These are people who despite the laws, would be prepared to take the risks if substantial profits could be earned. It would probably end up a lot like the drugs trade. The godfathers who plan and organise everything would be two or more steps removed from the sex-slaves at the coalface and middlemen or local controllers and enforcers would end up taking most of the risk. Therefore a criminalised sex industry will start to take on the characteristics of the illegal drugs industry.
The only sensible way of ensuring that this does not happen is to fully legalise, normalise and regulate the operations of independent sex workers who choose to work here and to ensure that places of work are fit for purpose and that health and safety criteria are being met. Sex workers should be licensed as such and either pay an annual licence fee to practice or be taxed. The authorities could then concentrate their efforts on targetting the traffickers, rescuing trafficked sex-workers, and prosecuting illegal unlicensed sex workers under the tax laws.
The best defence against trafficking is not a law that seeks to criminalise those who pay for sex and thereby reduce the business of those who willingly provide such services, rather it is a large cohort of independent sex workers who can both organise themselves collectively to improve their situation, yet work independently so that free market competition continues to function in this business.