Prostitution: The Ultimate Victimless Crime
Following the news that Eliot Spitzer allegedly hired the services of a prostitute, I found these comments from a 2007 Reason Magazine article by Cathy Young to be very interesting. From "Prostitutes and Politics: Why Is It Still Illegal to Pay for Sex?"
Prostitution is currently legal in virtually all developed nations, though often surrounded by restrictions and regulations. It is illegal everywhere in the United States except Nevada and, by a legal quirk, in Rhode Island if all transactions are conducted in a private residence.
Yet prostitution is perhaps the ultimate victimless crime: a consensual transaction in which both parties are supposedly committing a crime, and the person most likely to be charged—the one selling sex—is also the one most likely to be viewed as the victim. (A bizarre inversion of this situation occurs in Sweden, where, as a result of feminist pressure to treat prostitutes as victims, it is now a crime to pay for sex but not to offer it for sale.) It is sometimes claimed that the true victims of prostitution are the johns' wives. But surely women whose husbands are involved in noncommercial—and sometimes quite expensive—extramarital affairs are no less victimized.
It's the criminalization of prostitution that does take actual victims. As with other victimless crimes, the criminalization of prostitution creates a vast breeding ground for corruption, hypocrisy, and morally dubious law enforcement tactics.