It is refreshing to read that reform is coming to ‘the oldest profession’ (‘Consultation soon on new prostitution laws’, May 17). However, the ‘experts’ who have spoken about the issue so far seem to still be living in the 20th century: back when terrorised prostitutes paraded the streets, their violent pimps arranged encounters and clients were unpredictable. In the last decade, the world of prostitution has seen a sea-change.

More women (and quite a few men) are entering the profession and doing so on their own terms. The internet allows prostitutes to work discretely and independently. It makes it possible to advertise safely (without walking the streets), set clear prices for specific services and vet clients before arranging to meet them. On dedicated websites, both prostitutes and punters are rated and forums allow prostitutes to discuss matters like how to fit their job around childcare. Some prostitutes do the job because they like the sex, others because the money is good and some combine it with other jobs for extra income. Not all prostitutes are victims and not all punters are depraved. The new laws should take this into consideration and protect all the stakeholders.

It is not in the prostitutes’ interests to have their clients arrested and going after clients would only force prostitution underground. Prostitutes will adopt a riskier behaviour to protect their clients.

As Malta’s population grows, ages, diversifies and more people live alone, the demand for, and supply of, paid-for intimacy is bound to increase. Despite the profession’s seedy reputation, now is not the time to be squeamish or moralistic about prostitution. By all means, be harsher on pimping, assault and human trafficking but let consenting adults get on with their lives and business transactions.


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