EFFECTS AND LAWS IN CONNECTION TO PROSTITUTION

Social Effects of Prostitution
Given the very essence of prostitution, it is not out of place to state the fact that the practice reduces the moral value of women in the society. Based on the ideology of the particular society, the people could be affected by prostitution, more especially, the presence of the prostitutes in the neighborhood given the brazen and wanton disposition that goes with those who play it. [1] Onoja Rose, a news magazine correspondent wrote that, At night, Allen Avenue does not go to sleep; it simply welcomes a unique set of people who engage in business that are better done in darkness[2].

She goes further to enumerate some of these engagements that are better done at night in which young girls, roam the streets soliciting for clients.
The writer believes the news magazine correspondent equates prostitution with evil since it thrives in darkness, which usually shadow or cover malevolence deeds. Hence, according to her, the streets of Lagos at night, has degenerated to a nest of drug and alcoholic abusers, rapists etc.
Prostitution destroys the society by eating deep into the fabric that holds it together. An example is the activities of prostitutes at 42nd Street, New York, United states of America, where the practice of prostitution has been a cover for crimes, such as, drug trade and organized crime. [3] Also, the city of Macao which is the main commercial port linking Europe and Japan is a centre of gambling and gang violence with deep roots in the practice of prostitution.
            Aside acting as a cover for the perpetuation of various crimes, it creates an effect tantamount to that raised by pornography, which is, reducing scruples and the moral meter of the society.
Trust becomes bygone, as clients choose to maintain a high confidentiality status, hiding patronage from friends, family and loved ones. There are also difficulties establishing intimate relationship. Educational deprivation, lost career, and missed normal socialization process are the social effects of prostitution.
 4.2 Health effects of prostitution
The health effects of prostitution are and have always been devastating. Those that practice or indulge in the act, usually have severe depression or anxiety, and they often need medical care as a result of ever present violence and assault emanating from prostitution.
Diseases brought about by the trade are as old as the trade itself. Such sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) include; Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and associated Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDs). Others include gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis etc. These result from factors such as random and reckless sexual practices. Unfortunately this is very high in our contemporary society.
General gynecological problems, in particular, chronic pelvic pain and pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID) accounts for most serious illnesses associated with sexually transmitted diseases. The more episodes of sexually transmitted diseases increase the risk of cervical cancer.
Unwanted pregnancies which result from the trade may precipitate crude abortion techniques, especially in society where abortion is unlawful. There could also be a general gynecological problem, high risk of infertility, injuries caused by repeated physical attacks, shot or stab wounds on the body of prostitutes by clients or pimps. At times, there could be organ damage from drug and alcohol addition etc.

Emotional health consequences of prostitution include severe trauma, stress, anger, deep emotional pain, grieving, distrust, hatred for men,  depression, insomnia, irritability, flashback, emotional numbness, self-abuse (over-indulgence of alcoholic beverages and substance abuse), mutilation, homicide and suicide.
Put succinctly, women in prostitution suffer the broken bones as a result of severe beatings, concussion, chronic pelvic pain, extreme stress and trauma. The women are also battered, raped and sexually abused. This is based on the fact that prostitution is a regular and daily occurrence over an extended period of time.
Alcohol and drugs such as, crack cocaine are frequently used and girls who live this lifestyle, requires rehabilitation.
Many girls die while working as prostitutes at the hands of pimps, clients. Cases of suicide abound, so also, slavery. The effects of prostitution on the client include, unfaithfulness in marriage, twisted ideas of love, sex and pornography addiction. This has effect on the family of the practitioner and client. For instance, sickness and deep emotional ill-feeling could arise, hurting wives and children.


4.3 Criminalization or decriminalization of prostitution
Crimes mala in se and mala prohibita are Latin words meaning crime or an act that is inherently immoral, and act that is a crime merely because it is prohibited by statute respectively. What constitutes crimes changes as culture develops, coupled with economic and political changes. This could lead to behaviour being criminalised or decriminalized.
            Criminalization may be viewed as a pre-emptive harm or reduction device, which uses the threat of punishment as a deterrent to those proposing to engage in behaviour causing harm. The state becomes involved it believes that the cost of not criminalizing acts outweighs the cost of criminalizing it. Criminalization is a concept that is based on “legal vendetta”, that is, it ensures that offenders invariably pay for their crimes.
Advocates of criminalization believe that when prostitution is sanctioned, it is the first step to curbing other related offences such as, drug abuse, physical and sexual assault, rape, murder and other organised crime activities such as, human trafficking, child labour and abuse. The criminalization of prostitution amounts to structural violence and it denies sex workers the right to heath. It also increases the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infectious diseases. This is because it:
·                     Fuels stigma towards sex workers in the health care setting;
·                     Fosters police abuse of sex workers; and it
·                     Ensures that sex workers are not involved in the development of health policy decisions that affect them.
Prostitution is an act that borders on the region of financial gratification or consideration in exchange for sexual services. It is a specific intent crime and should be decriminalized. Prostitution is more or less a moral wrong from a religious standpoint, though radical feminists are against the trade for obvious reasons.
State governments in Nigeria, spend millions of money every year to arrest and incarcerate prostitutes. These are scarce resources, which could be diverted to education, jobs training, housing and counseling.
            Legal trends, particularly in some European countries, actually decriminalize prostitution and sanction it as a normal part of social order. [4] In such countries, prostitution as a trade is regulated, hence, ensuring its revival. In some other countries, prostitution has been increasingly proposed as an alternative employment outlet for women. It is opined that legalizing prostitution allows the government to control the types of prostitution and enforce health and zoning regulations.
An issue distinct from why prostitution should not be criminalized is how it should be treated. Legalizing prostitution or rather decriminalizing it removes, all laws against it, essentially making it a laissez-faire business.
            An example of prostitution of a state that decriminalized prostitution is the state of Nevada in the United states. There, prostitution, solicitation, pandering and living from the earnings of a prostitute are still illegal, but an exception is made for prostitution that occurs in a licensed brothel. One disadvantage of the practice of prostitution in Nevada is that, legal prostitutes in Nevada are not given the decency of being treated as employees, instead they are considered as independent contractors, allowing the brothel management to fend for and provide them with insurance, pension or retirement.
Proponents for the legalization of prostitution from the view point of liberal feminism argued that, any law that does not keep the playing field between men and women level is discriminatory. Proponents believe that laws criminalizing prostitution, unfairly discriminate against women, who make up the majority of prostitutes. Many liberal feminists treat the right to prostitution as they do the right to abortion. But prostitution and abortion are not so similar. Abortion involves women gaining control over their bodies. Prostitution involves men possessing control over women’s bodies.
            The goal of decriminalizing prostitution should not be to make it easier for women to enter and continue in the profession.  Prostitution will not become less demeaning to women when it is legal. Decriminalizing all crimes associated with prostitution will do nothing for the prostitutes who are held as virtual prisoners by their ‘pimps’. In order for prostitution to cease, our laws must recognize that prostitutes are not criminals, but a class of people in need of protection.
            Until the 1960s, attitudes toward prostitution were based on Judeo-Christian views of immorality[5]. Researches have recently attempted to separate moral issues form the reality of prostitution. The rationale for its continued illegal status in the U.S. rests on 3 assumptions:
·                     Prostitution is linked to organized crime.
·                     Prostitution is responsible for much ancillary crime.
·                     Prostitution is the cause of an increase in venereal diseases.
Furthermore, strong arguments have been made in support of legalizing prostitution. Decriminalization would free the courts and police from handling victimless crimes, allowing security forces more time to deal with serious violent crimes. The issue of prostitution has been partially resolved through decriminalization and tolerance in some countries.
            However, taking a cursory glance form the viewpoint of criminalization, there are three possible justifications for making the trade illegal. These are:
• It harms the community;
• It harms land values and children; and
• It harms the prostitute.
The criminal law encounters difficulties in a bid to curb prostitution. The difficulties can be attributed to:
• Cost;
• Diversion of law enforcement resources; and
• The use of illegal means of police control i.e. unlawful arrests and harassment in a bid to rid the streets of prostitution.
In view of the above, decriminalization still seems a better option.

4.4   The criminal justice system and prostitution
The criminal justice system consists of the agencies responsible for enforcing criminal law, including legislature, police, and the courts. Their decisions pertain to prevention, detection, and investigation of crime; the apprehension, accusation, detention, and trial of suspects, and the conviction, sentencing, incarceration, or official supervision of adjudicated defendants. [6]
In Nigeria, the criminal justice system consists of the police, the court and the prisons. In reality, the Nigerian criminal justice system (herein after, referred to as the system) is not sympathetic towards the plight of the prostitute: it is prejudicial in the sense that, it regards the prostitutes as the one and only perpetrator of the crime. The criminal code punishes solicitation and prostitution and in the process, injure the individuals who need the legal protection the most. For example, when a child runs away from abuse in the home, and encounters the harsh realities of street conditions, she may likely turn to prostitution to survive.  Should the law punish the juvenile, or helpless offender, or observe the extenuating circumstances leading to the offense, which was embarked upon as a survival strategy. Children arrested for prostitution will likely end in a juvenile system that is ill equipped, hence making a worse scenario out of a bad situation.
A sex worker’s life is filled with violence from clients and police, with discrimination and scorn from the general public, drug addiction, homelessness and lack of health services.  They are also not offered the economic, psychological and social services they need. The criminal justice system only exacerbates the problem and violates the civil and human rights of sex workers in the process[7].
            There are some of the conclusions of a just-released study by the Sex Workers Project, an initiative of the Urban Justice Centre in New York City. The study followed female, male, and transgender street sex workers in New York City, and analyses specifically how they have been affected by the city’s infamous zero-tolerance approach to law enforcement. Women, on the other hand, are treated as if sex work is not just their job or even crime, but their entire existence. Police officers and judges do not treat sex workers as women who have violated a law, they treat them as prostitutes, often referring to them in much cruder terms.
This societal treatment of sex workers on the moral level is mirrored on the judicial level, where sex workers bear the brunt of the criminal justice system, while men usually get off relatively higher. In 2002, the Chicago police department made 4,486 arrests for prostitution-related offenses. Men are usually charged with violating city ordinances rather than actual crimes.
            Advocates and lawyers for prostitutes should note that cases would often be dropped if they fought the charges. Proving prostitution or related charges like soliciting and trespassing is difficult and in most cases, the evidence is fairly flimsy. But women charged with prostitution rarely fight the charges. They are expected to show up in cattle-call fashion before the judge, plead guilty and go off with a relatively light sentence of time served or a brief stint in jail.
            The mistreatment of sex workers also carries concrete costs for the rest of the society. The most obvious example of this is the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and a system that allows men to rape and otherwise abuse sex workers without legal or societal retribution. This perpetuates violence against women as a whole.
The Nigerian criminal justice system should provide a better way of combating the issue of prostitution and the protection of its victims, which more often than not, works injustice.
            Several non-profit organizations have however began the process of protecting the interest of these victims, educating and counseling ex-prostitutes so that they can fit back into the society without being stigmatized. Examples are the Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON), Idia Renaissance, etc.

4.5 Present laws on prostitution in Nigeria.
Apart from Section 222A of the Criminal Code[8], which seeks to discourage the seduction or prostitution of a girl under sixteen years of age and Section 222B[9], which outlaws the housing of persons under sixteen in brothels, Section 225A provides that:
Every person who-

(a) Knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of   prostitution; or 
(b)In a public place, persistently solicits or importunes for immoral purposes; shall be liable for imprisonment for two years, and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction shall, in addition to any term of imprisonment awarded, be liable to caning. [10]

The Criminal Code prohibits the keeping and management of brothel. According it, anyone in contravention of the said law, will be liable to fine and imprisonment. [11]
The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement And Administration Act, 2003 also prohibits the causing or encouraging the seduction or prostitution of person under eighteen years [12] and also the procurement of any person for prostitution, pornography and their use in armed conflict. [13]
            Section I (1) of the Street Offences Act, 1959 as amended by Section 16 of the Policing and Crime Act, 2009 prohibits street prostitution.
            Section 53A of the sexual Offences Act, 2003 creates the offence of paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc, which is a strict liability offence.
            The above laws, at least serves to inform those that aid and abet prostitution, which include pimps and clients, that their conducts are questionable under the law as crimes.


[1] http://www.nejro.org.
[2] Onoja R, Tuesday, March 20, 2000. pg 34.
[3] Jackson Kenneth, New York city, Microsoft student 2007 (DVD Redmond WA).
[4] Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland have various forms of legalised or decriminalised prostitution.
[5] www.sun.edu/psy 453/proti-y.html.
[6] Sue Titus Reid, op. cit ; p 404.
[7]Kari Lydersen “Sex Workers and Civil Rights”, Alter Net. July 15, 2003.
[8] Cap 38,  Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004
[9] Ibid
[10] Section 225A (1).
[11] Section .225 B.
[12] Section 13.
[13] Section 15.
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