Is Prostitution Really a Victimless Crime?

A victimless crime is defined by Dr. Carol A. Veneziano, Ph.D., a professor at Southeast Missouri State University, as “an illegal act that involves consenting adults and lacks a complaining participant (Schur, 1965). Such acts have been defined as illegal, but there is no victim that claims to have been harmed; either no harm has occurred, or if harm has occurred to those involved, it is negated because its willing participants have given informed consent to the activity” (Stitt, 1988). In layman terms, victimless crimes are illegal, but no one is harmed; it doesn’t matter if one of the people involved is harmed because the participants have given consent to commit the act. Diana Kendall, professor from Baylor University, as well as, journalist John Stosell, believe prostitution is a victimless crime (Kendall, 2013: 199 and Holman, 2008: 117). In fact, Mr. Stosell asserted, “Don’t prostitutes own their own bodies? Shouldn’t they be freely contract to use their body as they wish? Who was hurt here? This is a victimless crime” (Holman, 2008: 117). Unfortunately, Stosell and Kendall are very wrong.

I believe that prostitution is not a victimless crime. Though I do concede to Stosell, that the prostitutes have a choice whether or not they want to have sex, in other words, they do have agency over their bodies. However, I believe they were victims of an external factor(s) that contributed to them going into this occupation. In fact many social scientists have discovered that “parental substance abuse, early experiences of sexual debasement.” Some were even exposed to “violence and abuse and family dysfunction” (Arnold, 2001: 146). They were victims in their own families, being treated as objects to be toyed with. All of these dehumanizing acts toward women when they were young contributed to prostitution because they were traumatized and thus have depression or lower levels of physical and cognitive function (Arnold, 2001: 147). Thus, they are not able to function properly in mainstream society.

Furthermore,  they are a victim of the system or the structure (structure vs. agency). A concept of the Strain Theory, called innovation, developed by sociologist Robert Merton in the mid 1900’s, everyone wants to have the same societal goals, but some don’t have the approved means of achieving it (Kendall, 2013: 189). This explains why women who are physically or mentally incapable go into prostitution. People all want to make money and support themselves in adulthood or their families, however women who are physically or mentally incapable do not have access to the culturally approved method, or legal method, of obtaining money. Thus they resort to prostitution to support themselves. However, if the the system worked toward their advantage, for example, providing affordable rehab centers or affordable vocational facilities they may be able to get out of the problems they were put into and lead a healthy life.

Police Wanted to Force Teen to Erect, Then Take Photos of It

A teen, under investigation because of a consensual sext (sexual texting) to his 15 year old girl friend “may be forced to have an erection in front of police as evidence in the case” (thinkprogress.org). Because his girlfriend sexed him back he is charged of possession of child pornography and manufacturing pornography because he taped a video of himself (thinkprogress.org).
The teen’s penis has already been taken, but the police wanted to recreate the act in the video by forcefully injecting something in order to make the boy erect (think progress.org). Thank goodness, because of public outcry they did not!
Though I do not condone the actions of the teen, I don’t condone the intended actions of the police in question either. If the police did continue with their original plan, what the police wanted to do was illegal. First, the police would have violated the 4th amendment, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. What is the purpose of recreating the act, if not to humiliate the teen? They claimed their cause of this search is to “to compare his erect penis to that in the video found on his phone” (same website). But, they already have the evidence of the video, what more tangible proof do they need to convict the teen? Were the police in question not sure if the got the right guy? If not they should be retrained, because the police are supposed to be very competent people, which most of them are. So the answer the police in question gave was not a very good reason.
Furthermore, they were going to violate a person’s privacy, which can be interpreted in the 9th and 10th amendments. By invading the teen’s private parts was not only humiliating and dehumanizing but a invasion of privacy, hence the name ‘private parts’! “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” -Joseph N. Welch, lawyer
Lastly, the police would have commited the same crimes they charged the teen with. That is manufacturing and possessing child pornography. According to “Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor” (www.justice.gov). In English,by taking a picture of or a video of the teen erecting (doing a sexually arousing act) is considered manufacturing child porno, and if they manufactured it, they would have possessed it.

Again, I am relieved they did not do it.