One of the arguments that advocates of legalizing prostitution make is that eliminating restrictions on the sex trade — prohibitions on communicating for the purpose of prostitution, living off the avails of prostitution, and running a bawdy house — will make life safer for prostitutes. Legalization of prostitution means the state can regulate it and regulation will make it safer. But Marina Adshade, an economist at Dalhousie University and a blogger at Dollars and Sex, says that regulating the sex trade will not make prostitutes safer because a black market continue to exist:
[T]he street sector will persist just as it does in other countries that have stopped treating the sex work as criminal behaviour. Men who don’t want to pay brothel prices, or don’t want to play by brothel rules (especially if condom use is enforced), will make sure there is a steady demand for sex work on the street.
Adshade adds that some hookers won’t want to pay taxes and thus eschew legal, regulated (and taxed) prostitution arrangements. Furthermore, regulating the sex industry will increase the cost of procuring sex, so a black market will exist that undercuts the going rates in the legal market. Most importantly, vulnerable women — drug addicts, illegal immigrants, prostitutes with sexually transmitted diseases — will still work outside the regulated (legal) system of prostitution.
In other words, legalization is not the panacea advocates claim it is. Indeed, most of the problems associated with prostitution will remain.