Let's start with this first claim, that it's the world's oldest profession. This is nothing more than pure speculation, based on urban legends, derived on the dubious conclusions that questionable archaeologists have reached, from negligable evidence.
On the basis of that, I'd say that this claim has very little basis, and exists purely and simply to bolster the argument by throwing pseudo-scientific claims around.
Let's look at the reality, for a moment. Early humans were hunter/gatherers. You hunted, or you starved. Those were the choices. These early nomadic "groups" (they were no more "tribes" at this point than a pack of wolves) would have had no serious gender distinctions. There wouldn't have been enough of them. The same is seen today. You don't see one group of apes staying home to do the dishes. They ALL gather food. However, you're going to collect much less food in winter than in summer, so they will also ALL horde food.
The conclusion from this? The world's oldest profession is hunting, the second-oldest is warehousing. Since, by the end of winter, supplies will be unevenly diminished, the third-oldest profession is probably bartering, which would lead naturally to brokering.
So, we get back to the original statement, that prostitution is the world's oldest profession. Sounds significant! The imperitive declaration of antiquity is awe-inspiring. Let's all save this piece of ultra-ancient heritage! (yeah, whatever.)
Now, let's replace that with (IMHO) the more probable one of "prostitution may have evolved out of one of the first few hundred professions, once civilization really got started". Not quite so dramatic, is it? Nothing unique, nothing particularly special, nothing any different from any of a hundred other forms of exchange, most of which humanity has long-since out-grown.
Let's now move on to the aspect of criminalization. Is it effective? Well, not really, but neither is it applied in any meaningful way. You arrest a bunch of people, fine them money they don't have, release them back onto the streets, wash, rince, repeat. It's not stopping the problem, it's merely whitewashing it.
What about legalizing it, then? If you were to do this, you might as well legalize murder. After all, arresting people has never stopped that, either. You can justify anything you damn well please, if you work from that argument. It's still baloney.
Money is an important issue, too. People are much more willing to spend money, if it's someone else's. When it's their own, THAT is a different matter. Especially if it's visible.
Genuine assistance isn't cheap, and we're talking about groups of people who aren't rich, and who need a LOT of help. Councelling, to be effective, needs to be daily. An hour a day, each day, would be in the order of $1,400 a week, per person.
More to the point, that $1,400 would be a seperate budget item from maintaining the police force. What =was= all just munged together, becomes stated and very obvious. Taxpayers who are willing to fork out $2,000 p/w for something obscure and unknown, won't even consider $1,400 p/w for someone else's therapy.
Ok, so what's the alternative?
Actually, there are several alternatives I can see:
- The Government could pay ALL expenses that relate to ANY education at ALL levels, regardless of the school, the person, the background, whatever. After all, it'll get the money back through income tax, anyway. It's not like it's pixie dust that just vanishes into thin air. Since parents are not obliged to respect equal oportunities, girls are powerless to get any kind of education, beyond the legal minimum. And not all get that. Families resent forking out cash to educate women. So, if women are going to GET education, the cash has to come from somewhere. Looks like you're it.
- The Government could offer all existing prostitutes a simple deal. The women get the same level of income, guaranteed, with 100% job security, benefits, etc, any job training they need (all expenses paid), in any profession they choose. If the women like their current career so bloody much, they'll turn this deal down flat. BUT, if they really, fundamentally, hate what they do, but just can't get out of the trap, then they'll jump at the offer. ANYONE who advocates legalizing the profession should first ask if anyone really wants it. If the answer is a definite "NO", then who are you to tell these women that they have to stay in their job? If you're into true freedom, are you willing to pay for it?
- The Government could create "community prisons" for both the prostitutes and their clients, with councelling and sexual addiction programs. After all, nobody is going to go to such programs in the "outside world". Image means a lot to people, sometimes even at the expense of their own lives. By running a program away from staring eyes, you've an even chance that some of these people will actually GET help.
How are these alternatives? Well, in the long-term, they're all self-supporting. They pay for themselves, by what they are and what they achieve.
As a result, tax-payers wouldn't be being asked to be involved in someone else's care. And as a result of that, they'd be more likely to be favourable. Given the choice of taxes or treatment, they'd go for treatment every time.
Also, such schemes would DEMAND quality of service. Most "schemes" that have ever been attempted have no reason to do well. If anything, they become defunct, if too efficient, and the people running them would be out of a job.
To genuinely work, a scheme would need to meet the criteria that failure of ANY kind would cost, and that success to ANY degree would benefit. Now, there's incentive to succeed. Even in "hopeless cases", they'd have a reason to go that extra mile. Because to not do so would be much, much worse for them.
The scheme would also need to be flexible, so that it doesn't make itself defunct. That way, you don't get people going after that little bit of job security. The job security would be guaranteed. So long as they did their job.
A therapist who gets paid $200-$1000 per hour, with the certain knowledge that someone -will- pay them, no matter what, has no reason to do well. Put that same therapist in the position that failure WILL hurt, and they're going to avoid failing.
This gets back to the heart of why there's a problem in the first place. Parents have no incentive to do well. They can abuse their children as much as they like (provided it's within legal limits, or just very well hidden) and there's not a whole lot that will happen to them.
One result is girls who have negative self-image, no usable education, and no serious way out except by marrying someone rich or by selling themselves.
The other result is boys who have negative self-image, no usable social skills, and no serious hope of any kind of real relationship, so they go out and buy a fake one for an hour or so. Their world isn't real, anyway, so a bit more delusion doesn't make any difference.
Getting out of the delusion trap is expensive. But if humanity (as a whole) doesn't do so, the cost of staying -in- the delusion trap is going to become a whole lot worse. If it already hasn't.
Sadly, the number of people seriously interested in tackling the CORE issues is relatively small. It's much easier to wave banners, burn some effigies, or demand that their favourite crime be legitamized so that they can stop feeling like such loosers.
There is an alternative. Double the national debt, rip absolute privacy & power from parents, and invest in an educational program and a mental health-care program so massive, so overwhelming, that society has no alternative but to grow up.
P.S. Something like 1% of New York's population are "homeless" people who live in abandoned tunnels in the subway system, and who live off rats and spilled food. The day the "legalizers" advocate councelling, health-care, education, food and water to these people is the day I'll take them seriously. The test of moral character is not one of whether you campaign for the rights of those who give you pleasure (however dubious). It's one of whether you campaign for the rights of those who you will never know and never see.