When Robert McIlveen proposed the legalisation of prostitution on ConservativeHome’s 100policies.com, the idea was rejected – but only narrowly. The topic is, of course, back in the news following the series of Ipswich killings. Two of Britain’s leading conservative female columnists tackle the issue today – Melanie Phillips and Janet Daley.
"[The proposal] was binned because it was rightly thought that, rather than reduce the harm done by prostitution, such ‘zones of tolerance’ would increase it by becoming magnets for sex tourism and trafficking. Countries that have gone down this route, such as the Netherlands, Denmark or Germany, have seen a vast increase in prostitution — and worse still, child prostitution — which has helped fuel the stupendous rise in global people trafficking. It is also hard to see how this policy would prevent such murders from occurring. Even Glasgow’s ‘tolerance zone’ did not prevent a murder from taking place there."
Phillips rejects the idea of legalisation of prostitution or drugs: "The idea that legalising drugs would get rid of crime is simply risible. Legal drugs would always be undercut — both by lower prices and higher strengths — by a black market. The only way to eradicate such an illegal trade would be to supply unlimited quantities of all drugs totally free of charge." She favours the Swedish model: "[Sweden] has criminalised both drug-takers and those who use prostitutes. The result is that Swedish drug use is a fraction of our own, while in Stockholm street prostitutes have been reduced by two-thirds and the number of men using them has dropped by some 80%."
For Janet Daley, writing in The Telegraph, the Victorians provide a model for us:
"They formed temperance associations to combat the destructive power of drink. They went out into the streets on voluntary missions to rescue young girls, and they formed community self-help organisations and co-operatives to keep families out of desperate hardship so that they might not lose their daughters to vice. The churches ran relief programmes, and wealthy benefactors set up educational schemes whose object was self-improvement. And none of this was inconsistent with that notorious Victorian "moralising". It was all of a piece. The moral strictures that they preached were the principles from which their charity (in every sense of the word) sprang. What they wanted for everyone – including those unfortunate women – was a chance to lead a decent and wholesome life."