While King County has announced it’s now increasingly going after ‘Johns’ to combat prostitution, KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson argues it’s time to simply legalize it.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg launched the new “Buyer Beware” program Wednesday at a news conference with local law enforcement. The focus of the program is targeting the men who seek sex, along with pimps, while helping the women he says are trapped in a life of violence.
In a conversation Thursday, Monson questioned Satterberg’s assertion that prostitution is far from a victimless crime.
“Don’t get me wrong, I think prostitution is sad. I think it’s sinful. But I think that’s between you and God,” Monson says.
“I think that if a lonely 40-year-old guy wants to give his money to a 25-year-old woman who says ‘yeah, it’s worth it to me to sell my body for money, I’d like the cash,’ then why should that be any of our business?”
But Satterberg says Monson and many others don’t understand how victimized the vast majority of women selling sex really are.
“They’re caught in this horrible vise between a violent pimp who is abusive, who beats them physically, who gets them hooked on drugs, who demands that they have sex with 10 or 20 men every day and takes their money, that’s one one side of her life,” Satterberg says. “And on the other side of her life are these men who feel entitled because they’ve got some money to do whatever they want to these young girls and women. It’s just a horrible, horrible life.”
Monson compares prostitution to Washington’s recent legalization of marijuana. He points to brothels in Nevada as an example of what seems to be a healthy way to handle the supply and demand.
“It seems like the girls are there willingly, they do enjoy what they do, and it sure seems like legalization does far more to clean up every single problem you are talking about than any emphasis patrol ever will,” Monson says.
Satterberg counters any promotion of prostitution furthers a culture of exploitation of women and legalization actually makes it worse.
“It says it’s OK for men to feel entitled to sexual gratification at the expense of a woman for money,” he says. “What it does is since the legal market can’t meet it, it increases the number of pimps out there supplying, it increases the number of men who think that this is their right because they’ve got $100 to do whatever they want to do to do this woman, and the woman is still caught in this living hell.”
But Monson remains unconvinced. He points out going after drug users did nothing to curb demand, and wonders if there’s really much difference between men and women trading sex for money and guys trying to get lucky by going out to a club and buying drinks for a prospective hookup.