Leading Medical Journal Lancet Supports Decriminalisation of Prostitution to Cut HIV Toll

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By Vittorio Hernandez | July 23, 2014 9:11 AM EST

Law enforcement agencies and moralists would surely disagree with the proposal to decriminalise prostitution, which got a major support from a credible publication.

Editors of The Lancet, a leading medical journal, supported the decriminalisation move to protect the health of sex trade workers. To reduce the risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases that hit women and men in the flesh trade, there is no alternative except to push for prostitution's decriminalisation, the editors said.

Reuters
A woman uses a calculator as prostitutes wait for customers in the Dolly district in Surabaya March 24, 2014. Tri Rismaharini, the celebrated mayor of Indonesia's second-largest city of Surabaya, has revamped its parks, kickstarted its port development and given free health and education to its poor. But one big challenge remains: shutting down Dolly, a brothel complex established in the 1970s in what is now central Surabaya. Picture taken March 24. REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas (INDONESIA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) March 24, 2014

They pointed to a new study, released to coincide with the ongoing International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, that said sex workers are facing "substantial barriers" is gaining access to prevention, treatment and care services due to the stigma, discrimination and criminalisation of their source of livelihood.

The study pointed to the some sub-Saharan African nations where over half of the sex trade workers are infected with HIV. In pushing for a global decriminalisation, the Lancet editors noted that prostitution is "part of the human story."

Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton and editor Pamela Das asked in the journal's editorial, "Why should we condemn and criminalise the exchange of money for sex, especially if the severely adverse conditions we create for such exchange hurt women and men and often fatally so?"

The two editors said by accepting and embracing sex work, such a move would help protect the health and bodily integrity and autonomy of sex workers, and should be society's "humane" and "pragmatic approach to the reality of our human lives."

They cited as a good example of decriminalisation the city of Amsterdam in The Netherlands, which gave the Dutch police more freedom to focus on cutting violence, protecting the sex workers and supporting HIV programmes.

Canada has also decriminalised prostitution but still needs to fine tune its laws, while a cross-party group of British legislators sought in the early part of 2014 to revamp the country's prostitution regulations.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
A woman uses a calculator as prostitutes wait for customers in the Dolly district in Surabaya March 24, 2014. Tri Rismaharini, the celebrated mayor of Indonesia's second-largest city of Surabaya, has revamped its parks, kickstarted its port development and given free health and education to its poor. But one big challenge remains: shutting down Dolly, a brothel complex established in the 1970s in what is now central Surabaya. Picture taken March 24. REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas (INDONESIA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) March 24, 2014
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