Criminalizing Sex Work is Harmful

Eight men were arrested in a prostitution sting in Trumbull County by the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio attorney general’s office and the Mahoning County Human Trafficking Task Force on March 2.

Each man is charged with solicitation, a third-degree misdemeanor and possession of criminal tools, a first-degree misdemeanor.

In Ohio, it is a crime to buy or sell sex. But making sex work illegal does more harm than good. 

By legalizing sex work, the Ohio government could regulate it and protect sex workers from trafficking. 

“Human Rights Watch has consistently found in research across various countries that criminalization makes sex workers more vulnerable to violence, including rape, assault, and murder, by attackers who see sex workers as easy targets because they are stigmatized and unlikely to receive help from the police,” according to Human Rights Watch. 

Decriminalizing prostitution eliminates a black market, gives sex workers rights and takes them out of unsafe work conditions. Without rights, prostitutes cannot seek justice with law enforcement if they are mistreated in the workplace.

There is a difference between independent sex work and sex trafficking. 

If adults want to sell sex, they should be allowed. If adults want to buy sex, they should be allowed — as long as all parties consent. 

In the interest of full transparency, we’d like our readers to know one of those men arrested in the March 2 sting is a Youngstown State University student media employee. 

The Jambar has been asked if we are going to write an in-depth report on the incident, and the short answer is no. Not at this moment.

This decision is not because of our opinions about the legalization of prostitution because it is a crime regardless.

But, this case as it currently stands is out of our jurisdiction. In any other circumstance, we would not report a misdemeanor that occurred off campus. 

Here at The Jambar, we do not have a crime reporter or the resources to look into every Ohio and Pennsylvania county to cross-reference if a YSU student committed a misdemeanor. Therefore, we are typically unaware of when similar crimes happen. 

Our jurisdiction covers crime that happens on YSU’s campus. If in the future this case affects campus, we will write an article.

We cannot in good conscious run a story out of our jurisdiction before a court date. Though he is a student media employee, he deserves the same treatment as any other YSU student.