Prostitution as a Social Problem

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Prostitution as a Social Problem A social problem is a social condition or pattern of behaving that is believed to warrant public concern and collective action. Prostitution, which is the act of trading sexual acts for money or drugs, has been called the world oldest profession, despite the scrutiny it has received over the ages. It is a social problem that has relevance in Canada now since decriminalization policies are being discussed in the House of Commons. There are objective and subjective elements to social problems. Objective elements are the features of negative social conditions that are measurable. These are proven systematic measurements that say that the social condition exists and that it causes harm to people. (Tepperman & Curtis, 2011) There are several facts and statistics that prove that prostitution not only exists but that it causes considerable damage to people. In Canada there is no consensus on how many people are involved in the sex trade industry however the estimate is in the hundreds of thousands. In addition, there is a high correlation between prostitution and substance use disorders, psychological problems, and violence. For example, in a study of 100 Canadian prostitutes 91% were assaulted physically while working and 82% needed treatment for drug and alcohol counselling. (Farley et al., 2004) Subjective elements of social problems are not as easily defined. These include how people evaluate the objective conditions and what influences these evaluations. (Tepperman & Curtis, 2011) These involve moral labels of “bad” or “immoral” that people give to these situations. The sale of sexual services offends the Judeo- Christian morality that has shaped much of Canadian policy because it betrays the ideals of monogamy, fidelity, and chastity. (Brock, 1998) From a mainstream feminist standpoint, prostitution is a “representation of

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