The Portland Press Herald reported six people were arrested in Brunswick in a prostitution set-up over the weekend. The Maine newspaper shared the information on Facebook over the weekend and was met with mixed reactions by commenters on the social media platform, some seemingly feeling prostitution is the least of our worries when it comes to illegal activities.
The Facebook post has since been removed but the reactions of Mainers to these arrests made me wonder: could Maine move towards legalizing prostitution?
It's a hot debate with many places across the world lifting the illegal status of the oldest profession in the world. Could Maine consider this possibility, too?
Prostitution In Maine's Criminal Code
Prostitution in Maine is covered in the Maine Criminal Code and includes a lengthy description within the criminal code. Here's prostitution defined here in the State of Maine and its illegal actions as defined in Maine Law:
1. "Prostitution" means engaging in, or agreeing to engage in, or offering to engage in a sexual act or sexual contact, as those terms are defined in section 251, in return for a pecuniary benefit to be received by the person engaging in prostitution or a 3rd person;
[PL 1995, c. 638, §1 (AMD).]
1-A. "Engages a prostitute" means providing or agreeing to provide, either to the person whose prostitution is sought or to a 3rd person, pecuniary benefit in return for a sexual act or sexual contact as those terms are defined in section 251;
[PL 1995, c. 638, §2 (AMD).]
2. "Promotes prostitution" means:
A. Causing or aiding another to commit or engage in prostitution, other than as a patron; [PL 1995, c. 638, §3 (AMD).]
B. Publicly soliciting patrons for prostitution. Publicly soliciting patrons for prostitution includes, but is not limited to, an offer, made in a public place, to engage in a sexual act or sexual contact, as those terms are defined in section 251, in return for a pecuniary benefit to be received by the person making the offer or a 3rd person; [PL 1995, c. 638, §3 (AMD).]
C. Providing persons for purposes of prostitution; [PL 1995, c. 638, §3 (AMD).]
D. Leasing or otherwise permitting a place controlled by the defendant, alone or in association with others, to be regularly used for prostitution; [PL 1995, c. 638, §3 (AMD).]
E. Owning, controlling, managing, supervising or otherwise operating, in association with others, a house of prostitution or a prostitution business; [PL 1995, c. 638, §3 (AMD).]
F. Transporting a person into or within the State with the intent that such other person engage in prostitution; or [PL 1975, c. 499, §1 (NEW).]
G. Accepting or receiving, or agreeing to accept or receive, a pecuniary benefit pursuant to an agreement or understanding with any person, other than with a patron, whereby the person participates or the person is to participate in the proceeds of prostitution.
When Did Prostitution Become Illegal?
According to Britannica, At the turn of the 20th century, a wave of national and state-level laws came to adopt prostitution as an illegal act. By the 1910s, all states had criminalized prostitution and made the industry illegal throughout the United States. Prior to this, the industry was loosely controlled. While it remained illegal in the U.S., some cities tolerated prostitution. The 1980s seemed to be a turning point for the industry in the United States due to HIV and AIDS infections.
Points of View
Advocates for legalizing prostitution, like the organization Human Rights Watch, states that an act of agreed-upon consensual sex is a human right issue. Additionally, making sex work illegal exposes workers to abuse and exploitation by law enforcers and makes workers more vulnerable to violent acts as well as do work in unsafe places. Another factor is those who do sex work cannot advocate for themselves as an industry- for their safety and health- which exists whether it's legal or illegal.
Those not in support of legalizing prostitution see that sex trafficking will become worse and that the abuse within the industry won't simply go away with legalization.
Do You Think Maine Should Legalize Prostitution?
So, we're asking you. If legalization was proposed, would you be in support of making prostitution legal or would you not want to see that changed?