“If morality represents the ideal world, then economics represents the real world.” – Stephen D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
This topic has been dismissed on moral grounds and its reality has been hidden on religious grounds in our various communities. Through the years we are learning that we cannot continue to lie to ourselves that closing our eyes will lead us to a deeper reality. The facts and figures still hold that prostitution must be legalized in African communities for it to abate.
Let us start from the beginning.
Prostitution is illegal in Kenya as it is in many of the African states. We all agree that it is a business and that explains why the perpetrators always claim that the lack of money was the incentive to engage in it. “I just want to survive and feed my family” they would sincerely say.
We have managed to demonize prostitutes. Most of us cannot bare the thought that this business is legitimate because the item of exchange is the body. As such, we nurture hate and thus alienate the known prostitutes and give them dirty labels. To others, this act derives anger, distress and hate and thus makes prostitution to be a, mostly, nightly act. This allows preservation of dignity from hiding from the eyes of the public. We would be surprised to know that all this hate is the reason for its successful increase.
We sustain it. How?
I have never met anybody who says that when he/she grows up, they want to be a prostitute. As such I would expect that with time this act will become extinct but that is not what has happened over the years. With the small number of prostitutes (supply) there lives to be a high demand and thus a shortage. We know the law of demand states that when the demand is high the prices go up.
To add up, prostitution is a very risky business. It ranges from fears of being sexually assaulted, arrest from the police, rape, being alienated from the society, distrust from friends and much more. These risks make the prostitute not ready to engage in the act for a small fee. Normally, the jobs with high risks give relatively better wages.
The demand is high and the risk is high and thus the wages are high. The incentive to be a prostitute to earn a living is very high. This is how we contribute to the business.
Prostitution Must be legalised.
When prostitution is legalised, the risk of rape and other evils happening to the prostitutes are lowered. This is because they can go to court and demand justice. After legalization, there will be an influx of people joining prostitution in the short run. The wages are high and thus attract more people. In the long run the number of prostitutes will have increased to surpass the demand for them. This will reduce the cost of prostitution since there will be alternatives offering cheaper services.
The disincentives here are clear, reduced risk and lower revenues. This is going to force those relying on prostitution as a way to earn the daily bread to look for better paying jobs. This sort of motivation is what we talk about when we meet a prostitute in Koinange, Nairobi Kenya. Thus we need to understand the incentive analysis in order to reduce our increasing “problem” of prostitution.
If you care about your religion, children and future of the morals of your country, you have to understand that legalisation of prostitution is essential. Else, you are giving life to your fears.
“If morality represents the ideal world, then economics represents the real world.” - Stephen D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
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