Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rapes, STDs drop when prostitution legal in RI

When Rhode Island accidentally legalized prostitution, rape decreased sharply - Max Ehrenfreud, Wonkblog, Washington Post:

July 17, 2014 - "For decades, few people noticed that legislators in Providence had deleted crucial language from Rhode Island state law in 1980. It wasn't until a 2003 court case that police, to their chagrin, discovered they couldn't prevent prostitutes and their customers from engaging in commercial exchange.

"For the next six years until legislators corrected their error, the oldest profession was not a crime in Rhode Island – and public health and public safety substantially improved as a result, according to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The statewide incidence of gonorrhea among women declined by 39 percent, and the number of rapes reported to police in the state declined by 31 percent, according to the paper.

"The study by Baylor University's Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah of the University of California, Los Angeles ... appears to be the first quantitative evidence that removing criminal penalties for prostitutes can reduce violence against women and curtail sexually transmitted infections in society generally – and dramatically so....

"Shah and Cunningham ... found that more women entered prostitution, particularly white and Asian women, and that the price of their services fell. In addition to the lower rate of gonorrhea infections among women, Shah and Cunningham estimated that decriminalizing prostitution prevented 824 rapes that would have been otherwise reported to police – and presumably many more that otherwise would not have been reported in any case.

"The decline in the number of rapes was so large that Cunningham and Shah felt obliged to examine their data with three separate statistical methods, but the effect persisted. The authors were eventually persuaded that their result was not a fluke, and that imposing criminal sanctions on prostitutes and their clients might cause violence against women. 'The human costs are so big, if this is in fact a very real causal effect,' Cunningham said. 'I think we have convinced ourselves that we have done everything we can do rule out alternative explanations.'"

Read more:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/17/when-rhode-island-accidentally-legalized-prostitution-rape-and-stis-decreased-sharply/

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