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If Nevadans are serious about ending sex trafficking, they must abolish legal prostitution

 Jason Guinasso
 Jason Guinasso
Opinion
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The front entrance to the Chicken Ranch brothel

In the 2022 race for one of Nevada’s U.S. Senate seats, The Nevada Independent reported that both the incumbent, Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto, and the challenger, Republican Adam Laxalt, are opposed to sex trafficking. They both have articulated a commitment to advocating for laws that support survivors and hold sex buyers, pimps, and traffickers accountable.  

Sen.Cortez-Masto, as Nevada’s attorney general, was a trailblazer for legal reforms to address sex trafficking. After being elected senator, Cortez-Masto continued to make combatting sex trafficking one of her top policy priorities. Once elected attorney general, Laxalt continued Cortez-Masto’s legacy by working with law enforcement throughout the state to prosecute traffickers. He announced in 2015 that his office had secured the first conviction under NRS 201.300 that makes human sex trafficking a class “B” felony. “Combatting the pervasive crime of human trafficking is a priority of this office,” said Laxalt in a press release at the time. 

Notwithstanding their agreement that the commercial sexual exploitation of human beings is a crime and their respective efforts to address this crime through the offices they each have held, neither has yet been willing to address the relationship between legalized prostitution and sex tourism and sex trafficking in Nevada. Given the political push over the past few years in many states and local jurisdictions, as well as at the federal level, to either decriminalize prostitution or to adopt Nevada-style legalization of prostitution, the question of legalization is an emerging issue that will soon grab national headlines and force federal law makers to debate significant paradigm-shifting policy questions.  

Advocates of decriminalization argue that removing the criminal sanctions surrounding sex work creates a safer environment for sex workers, and that it helps fight sex trafficking. Opponents of decriminalization argue that it will not prevent trafficking (or may even increase trafficking) and could put sex workers at greater risk. 

Nevada’s 50-year experiment with legalization is an example of why other jurisdictions should not legalize or decriminalize prostitution. Many people, particularly those with a political agenda, say we should not conflate legalization with decriminalization because they are different paradigms for a legalized environment for trafficking and prostitution. However, decriminalization, as a practical matter, is de facto legalization. Decriminalization is merely a different word for legalization, and the proponents are injecting a fair amount of political spin into how legalization is understood.

There are a wide variety of legal approaches to regulating prostitution. NGOs, academics, and government agencies typically advocate for one of five different models of legalization to organize the different approaches. But with any form of legalization or decriminalization, the truth is that pimps, traffickers, and buyers are always the winners, and those who are bought and sold, as well as the communities where they are bought and sold, are the losers. 

Rather than empowering so-called sex workers, it is my view that any form of legalization is actually another form of invidious misogyny that satisfies the insatiable sexual fantasies of men at the expense of those being bought and sold.  Buying human beings for sex, legally or illegally, is a violation of human rights and degrades human dignity.  (See: Melissa Farley, “Slavery and Prostitution: a Twenty-First Century Abolitionist Perspective.”) Slavery and pimp-controlled prostitution are the same experience from the perspective of the enslaved or prostituted. The abuses of power in prostitution and the abuses of power in slavery are profound social injustices resulting in great physical, mental, and emotional harm.  

In most cases, the very act of prostitution should be considered sex trafficking because the exchange of money (or something of value) to obtain a sex act is an act of sexual coercion.  Survivors who have worked in both legal and illegal prostitution have described their experiences of prostitution as “paid rape,” “pay-as-you-go rape,” and “being raped for a living.” (See: Rachel Moran, Paid for: My Journey Through Prostitution 112-113 (2013).)

Legalizing prostitution does not prevent the violence and rape inherent in prostitution. It assents to it.  “Indeed, rape is the defining experience of prostitution: the fear of it, the daily hypervigilance required to prevent it, the crushing physical and psychological trauma experienced by victims when it inevitably occurs.”  (See: Lisa Thompson, “Prostituted and Sexually Trafficked Persons Are Rape Victims, Too” (April 19, 2016)) 

According to Thompson, several studies characterize the violence that animates prostitution as “brutal, extreme, common, frequent, startling, normative, and ever-present.”  Moreover, “physical and sexual violence across prostitution types is pervasive—whether one is prostituting in Miami or Chicago, indoors or outdoors, for drugs or to pay the rent, on a street corner, in a car, back alley, brothel, massage parlor, or strip club—both the threat of, as well as actual violence, permeate everyday existence in “the zone.” As former Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor, Linda Fairstein observed in her book Sexual Violence: Our War against Rape, that it is unlikely that any “lifestyle exposes a woman to the threat of assault and gratuitous violence as constantly and completely as prostitution.”  

Brothel owners in Nevada are nothing more than common “pimps” sanctioned by state law to broker in the bodies of exploited women to fulfil the sexual appetites of men who live in or travel to Nevada to engage in prostitution. While NRS 201.320 defines the crime of pimping as knowingly accepting or taking money – or other things of value – that are the proceeds of prostitution, I do not use the term “pimp” here in this sense. Rather, I use the term “pimp” for brothel owners as it is commonly understood, to wit: a procurer, colloquially called a pimp (if male) or a madam (if female) or a brothel keeper, is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. 

The procurer may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing, and possibly monopolizing, a location where the prostitute may solicit clients. Like prostitution, the legality of certain actions of a madam or a pimp vary from one region to the next. Examples of procuring include: Trafficking a person into a country for the purpose of soliciting sex; operating a business where prostitution occurs; transporting a prostitute to the location of their arrangement; and deriving financial gain from the prostitution of another. (See: Garner, B. & Black, H. (2004). Black's Law Dictionary. Belmont: Thomson/West.)

Many of the women prostituted in Nevada’s brothels are controlled by outside pimps “[d]espite the fiction that they are ‘independent contractors,’ most so-called legal prostitutes have pimps — the state-sanctioned pimps who run the brothels and, in many cases, a second pimp who controls all other aspects of their lives (and takes the bulk of their legal earnings).” (See: Herbert, Bob (2007-09-11). "Fantasies, Well Meant". The New York Times) One federal court acknowledged this problem, citing a study that found that pimps remained common and some assaults against prostituted women occurred within Nevada’s legal brothels. (See: Coyote Publishing, Inc. v. Miller, 598 F. 3d 592, 596 fn2 (2010.)) 

Nevada is the only state in the Union which allows commercialized prostitution.  Nevada has allowed brothel operation since the 1800s (see: the mining industry – gold rush); however, the first state-sanctioned brothel was not in operation until 1971 when the Storey County Commission licensed the Mustang Ranch Brothel. Thereafter, the Legislature authorized prostitution or solicitation for prostitution in Nevada in designated brothels licensed by a county. State law presently allows counties of fewer than 700,000 residents to issue the licenses. (See: NRS 244.345(8).) 

Nevada’s legal brothels are estimated to generate more than $75,000,000 in revenue per year, while at the same time fueling Nevada’s illegal prostitution market, which in Las Vegas is estimated to gross more than $5 billion per year. According to a Creighton University Study of Nevada’s online commercial sex market published in May of 2018, adjusted for population, Nevada’s commercial sex market is by far the largest of any state: At least 5,016 individuals are sold for sex in an average month.

Nevada local governments that have legalized prostitution receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in brothel taxes and fees. These entities, under the cover of state law, then are permitted to co-act as de facto pimps who get their cut of what brothels charge for those they prostitute.   

Meanwhile, in jurisdictions where prostitution is illegal, prostitution is aggressively promoted as a tourist attraction. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” or some other cute marketing slogan is used to celebrate vice at the expense of countless victims. This has been exacerbated since the NHL and NFL have moved professional sports teams to Southern Nevada. Both legal brothels and black market purveyors in Las Vegas have positioned themselves to take advantage of the tourists coming from all over the country to have a “good time.”   

Most men who buy women for sex come from out-of-state as a result of the marketing activities arising out of Nevada. Likewise, the women bought, sold, and trafficked to Nevada often come from other states and countries. The Nevada market is the “premier” market for pimps, traffickers, and johns.  

In 2018, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office conducted multiple brothel work card compliance checks, assisted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and found numerous illegal practices, including immigration law violations, fraudulent statements, and indicators of sex trafficking from a foreign country.  Sheriff Al McNeil noted that “the discovery of U.S. immigration law violations in our legal brothel system is extremely alarming. The ability to coerce, exploit, and traffic non-U.S. citizens into Lyon County by foreign criminal enterprises is difficult to detect and deter.” Immigrants trafficked to Nevada and in Nevada brothels are victimized without any way to escape.

Numerous studies have shown that prostitution and sex trafficking are inextricably linked: wherever legal prostitution exists, sex trafficking increases. (See: Seo-Young Cho, Axel Dreher, & Eric Neumeyer, Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?) On average, in jurisdictions with legal prostitution, there is a statistically significant larger reported incidence of illegal sex trafficking. This circumstance is the result of the increased demand created by the legal sex market. As one expert put it, “wherever prostitution is legalized, trafficking to sex industry marketplaces in that region increases.” (Cho, supra.)

The federal government has long acknowledged the link between prostitution and trafficking in women and children, as a form of modern-day slavery. In 2002, the President of the United States issued a National Security Directive declaring, “The United States Government opposes prostitution and any related activities, including pimping, pandering, or maintaining brothels,” because these activities contribute to human trafficking. 

And, incidentally, so does the State of Nevada. In 2014, then Attorney General Cortez-Masto and her office submitted a grant application in connection with statewide initiatives to combat human trafficking, particularly minor sex trafficking stated:

…Nevada is a major national and even global destination, because Nevada is also synonymous with legalized gambling, legalized prostitution, clubbing, partying, bars, strip clubs, celebrities, glamour and gaudy excess – a grand spectacle of legitimized sin 24/7, 365 days per year! Nevada epitomizes the concept of an adult entertainment Mecca and averages over 50 million out-of-state visitors per year.

. . .

A very little known fact – completely unknown to most visitors – is that prostitution is not universally legal in Nevada.  

. . .

The brothel business operates on the premise, widely accepted in Nevada, that brothel prostitutes are all adults truly exercising their voluntary, free and informed choice of profession.  While the premise is arguable on at least two counts, most prostitutes ‘enter’ the business in their early to mid-teens and there are rural brothels specializing solely in young Asian women that speak no English.  Brothel workers are not employees, but are contracted workers who frequently have an outside ‘manager.’  

. . .

Meanwhile, those purveying cheaper illegal prostitution, must increase their work force numbers and productivity in order to maintain their profit margins. Nevada’s dilemma when dealing with possible trafficking victims in rural brothels is classifying them for purposes such as this grant.  . . . Nevada’s legal brothels complicate development of a consistent statewide response to sex trafficking.  

 . . .

Nevada’s recognition as one of the top trafficking destinations by multiple government and non-profit advocacy agencies is earned by effectively marketing the state’s entertainment and fantasy fulfillment possibilities.  

(See: OVC FY 2014 Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Grant Application Nevada Office of the Attorney General – Program Narrative.)

These observations and conclusions directly support the abolition of legal prostitution because legalization directly contributes to the sex trafficking problem we have in Nevada. Moreover, legal prostitution and sex trafficking encourages a culture of violence against women.  Nevada has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the nation, leads the nation in domestic violence resulting in death, and has the 5th highest rape rate in the nation.

And for those that say legalization improves public health, the fact is Nevada is in the top 10 states with the highest STD rates (we are first in the nation for syphilis infections – both primary and secondary). And, STD checks in brothels penalize the woman being commercially exploited for sex, but not the men buying the women for sex or the brothel selling them.  

Prostitution is not dangerous and dehumanizing because it is illegal. It is illegal and should remain so because it is dangerous and dehumanizing.

As I have painfully learned during my legal work and advocacy over the past decade, residents of the entire state have been groomed and desensitized to the harms of commercial sexual exploitation of women and men in much the same way that southern states were desensitized to dehumanization and the harms caused by slavery. In conclusion, dear reader, let me leave you with this question:

Cui bono? Who benefits? Who stands to gain from legalization and/or decriminalization? Pimps and brothel owners benefit. Sex buyers benefit. Government entities benefit. But the human beings who are commercially sexually exploited do not benefit.  

The inequalities and harms in prostitution are irreparable and unacceptable.  Therefore, Nevadans and their elected leaders should put an end legalized prostitution and oppose efforts to decriminalize locally and nationally.    

Jason D. Guinasso is a Nevada Independent opinion page contributor and managing partner of law firm Hutchison & Steffen’s Reno office. He is a litigator and trial attorney who also maintains an appellate practice, which includes petitions for judicial review of administrative decisions, extraordinary writs, and appeals to the Nevada Supreme Court. He also is legal counsel for the Reno/Fernley Crisis Pregnancy Center and an associate pastor at Ministerio Palabra de Vida where he serves a diverse multicultural church.

If Nevadans are serious about ending sex trafficking, they must abolish legal prostitution.  

In the race for one of Nevada’s U.S. Senate seats, The Nevada Independant reported that both the incumbent, Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto, and the challenger, Republican Adam Laxalt, are opposed to sex trafficking. They both have articulated a commitment to advocating for laws that support survivors and hold sex buyers, pimps, and traffickers accountable.  

Sen.Cortez-Masto, as Nevada’s attorney general, was a trailblazer for legal reforms to address sex trafficking.  After being elected senator, Cortez-Masto continued to make combatting sex trafficking one of her top policy priorities. Once elected attorney general, Laxalt continued Cortez-Masto’s legacy by working with law enforcement throughout the state to prosecute traffickers. He announced in 2015 that his office had secured the first conviction under NRS 201.300 that makes human sex trafficking a class “B” felony. “Combatting the pervasive crime of human trafficking is a priority of this office,” said Laxalt in a press release at the time. 

Notwithstanding their agreement that the commercial sexual exploitation of human beings is a crime and their respective efforts to address this crime through the offices they each have held, neither has yet been willing to address the relationship between legalized prostitution and sex tourism and sex trafficking in Nevada. Given the political push over the past few years in many states and local jurisdictions, as well as at the federal level, to either decriminalize prostitution or to adopt Nevada-style legalization of prostitution, the question of legalization is an emerging issue that will soon grab national headlines and force federal law makers to debate significant paradigm-shifting policy questions.  

Advocates of decriminalization argue that removing the criminal sanctions surrounding sex work creates a safer environment for sex workers, and that it helps fight sex trafficking. Opponents of decriminalization argue that it will not prevent trafficking (or may even increase trafficking) and could put sex workers at greater risk. 

Nevada’s 50-year experiment with legalization is an example of why other jurisdictions should not legalize or decriminalize prostitution. Many people, particularly those with a political agenda, say we should not conflate legalization with decriminalization because they are different paradigms for a legalized environment for trafficking and prostitution. However, decriminalization, as a practical matter, is de facto legalization. Decriminalization is merely a different word for legalization, and the proponents are injecting a fair amount of political spin into how legalization is understood.

There are a wide variety of legal approaches to regulating prostitution. NGOs, academics, and government agencies typically advocate for one of five different models of legalization to organize the different approaches. But with any form of legalization or decriminalization, the truth is that pimps, traffickers, and buyers are always the winners, and those who are bought and sold, as well as the communities where they are bought and sold, are the losers. 

Rather than empowering so-called sex workers, it is my view that any form of legalization is actually another form of invidious misogyny that satisfies the insatiable sexual fantasies of men at the expense of those being bought and sold.  Buying human beings for sex, legally or illegally, is a violation of human rights and degrades human dignity.  (See: Melissa Farley, “Slavery and Prostitution: a Twenty-First Century Abolitionist Perspective.”) Slavery and pimp-controlled prostitution are the same experience from the perspective of the enslaved or prostituted. The abuses of power in prostitution and the abuses of power in slavery are profound social injustices resulting in great physical, mental, and emotional harm.  

In most cases, the very act of prostitution should be considered sex trafficking because the exchange of money (or something of value) to obtain a sex act is an act of sexual coercion.  Survivors who have worked in both legal and illegal prostitution have described their experiences of prostitution as “paid rape,” “pay-as-you-go rape,” and “being raped for a living.” (See: Rachel Moran, Paid for: My Journey Through Prostitution 112-113 (2013).)

Legalizing prostitution does not prevent the violence and rape inherent in prostitution. It assents to it.  “Indeed, rape is the defining experience of prostitution: the fear of it, the daily hypervigilance required to prevent it, the crushing physical and psychological trauma experienced by victims when it inevitably occurs.”  (See: Lisa Thompson, “Prostituted and Sexually Trafficked Persons Are Rape Victims, Too” (April 19, 2016)) 

According to Thompson, several studies characterize the violence that animates prostitution as “brutal, extreme, common, frequent, startling, normative, and ever-present.”  Moreover, “physical and sexual violence across prostitution types is pervasive—whether one is prostituting in Miami or Chicago, indoors or outdoors, for drugs or to pay the rent, on a street corner, in a car, back alley, brothel, massage parlor, or strip club—both the threat of, as well as actual violence, permeate everyday existence in “the zone.” As former Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor, Linda Fairstein observed in her book Sexual Violence: Our War against Rape, that it is unlikely that any “lifestyle exposes a woman to the threat of assault and gratuitous violence as constantly and completely as prostitution.”  

Brothel owners in Nevada are nothing more than common “pimps” sanctioned by state law to broker in the bodies of exploited women to fulfil the sexual appetites of men who live in or travel to Nevada to engage in prostitution. While NRS 201.320 defines the crime of pimping as knowingly accepting or taking money – or other things of value – that are the proceeds of prostitution, I do not use the term “pimp” here in this sense. Rather, I use the term “pimp” for brothel owners as it is commonly understood, to wit: a procurer, colloquially called a pimp (if male) or a madam (if female) or a brothel keeper, is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. 

The procurer may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing, and possibly monopolizing, a location where the prostitute may solicit clients. Like prostitution, the legality of certain actions of a madam or a pimp vary from one region to the next. Examples of procuring include: Trafficking a person into a country for the purpose of soliciting sex; operating a business where prostitution occurs; transporting a prostitute to the location of their arrangement; and deriving financial gain from the prostitution of another. (See: Garner, B. & Black, H. (2004). Black's Law Dictionary. Belmont: Thomson/West.)

Many of the women prostituted in Nevada’s brothels are controlled by outside pimps “[d]espite the fiction that they are ‘independent contractors,’ most so-called legal prostitutes have pimps — the state-sanctioned pimps who run the brothels and, in many cases, a second pimp who controls all other aspects of their lives (and takes the bulk of their legal earnings).” (See: Herbert, Bob (2007-09-11). "Fantasies, Well Meant". The New York Times) One federal court acknowledged this problem, citing a study that found that pimps remained common and some assaults against prostituted women occurred within Nevada’s legal brothels. (See: Coyote Publishing, Inc. v. Miller, 598 F. 3d 592, 596 fn2 (2010.)) 

Nevada is the only state in the Union which allows commercialized prostitution.  Nevada has allowed brothel operation since the 1800s (see: the mining industry – gold rush); however, the first state-sanctioned brothel was not in operation until 1971 when the Storey County Commission licensed the Mustang Ranch Brothel. Thereafter, the Legislature authorized prostitution or solicitation for prostitution in Nevada in designated brothels licensed by a county. State law presently allows counties of fewer than 700,000 residents to issue the licenses. (See: NRS 244.345(8).) 

Nevada’s legal brothels are estimated to generate more than $75,000,000 in revenue per year, while at the same time fueling Nevada’s illegal prostitution market, which in Las Vegas is estimated to gross more than $5 billion per year. According to a Creighton University Study of Nevada’s online commercial sex market published in May of 2018, adjusted for population, Nevada’s commercial sex market is by far the largest of any state: At least 5,016 individuals are sold for sex in an average month.

Nevada local governments that have legalized prostitution receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in brothel taxes and fees. These entities, under the cover of state law, then are permitted to co-act as de facto pimps who get their cut of what brothels charge for those they prostitute.   

Meanwhile, in jurisdictions where prostitution is illegal, prostitution is aggressively promoted as a tourist attraction. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” or some other cute marketing slogan is used to celebrate vice at the expense of countless victims. This has been exacerbated since the NHL and NFL have moved professional sports teams to Southern Nevada. Both legal brothels and black market purveyors in Las Vegas have positioned themselves to take advantage of the tourists coming from all over the country to have a “good time.”   

Most men who buy women for sex come from out-of-state as a result of the marketing activities arising out of Nevada. Likewise, the women bought, sold, and trafficked to Nevada often come from other states and countries. The Nevada market is the “premier” market for pimps, traffickers, and johns.  

In 2018, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office conducted multiple brothel work card compliance checks, assisted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and found numerous illegal practices, including immigration law violations, fraudulent statements, and indicators of sex trafficking from a foreign country.  Sheriff Al McNeil noted that “the discovery of U.S. immigration law violations in our legal brothel system is extremely alarming. The ability to coerce, exploit, and traffic non-U.S. citizens into Lyon County by foreign criminal enterprises is difficult to detect and deter.” Immigrants trafficked to Nevada and in Nevada brothels are victimized without any way to escape.

Numerous studies have shown that prostitution and sex trafficking are inextricably linked: wherever legal prostitution exists, sex trafficking increases. (See: Seo-Young Cho, Axel Dreher, & Eric Neumeyer, Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?) On average, in jurisdictions with legal prostitution, there is a statistically significant larger reported incidence of illegal sex trafficking. This circumstance is the result of the increased demand created by the legal sex market. As one expert put it, “wherever prostitution is legalized, trafficking to sex industry marketplaces in that region increases.” (Cho, supra.)

The federal government has long acknowledged the link between prostitution and trafficking in women and children, as a form of modern-day slavery. In 2002, the President of the United States issued a National Security Directive declaring, “The United States Government opposes prostitution and any related activities, including pimping, pandering, or maintaining brothels,” because these activities contribute to human trafficking. 

And, incidentally, so does the State of Nevada. In 2014, then Attorney General Cortez-Masto and her office submitted a grant application in connection with statewide initiatives to combat human trafficking, particularly minor sex trafficking stated:

…Nevada is a major national and even global destination, because Nevada is also synonymous with legalized gambling, legalized prostitution, clubbing, partying, bars, strip clubs, celebrities, glamour and gaudy excess – a grand spectacle of legitimized sin 24/7, 365 days per year! Nevada epitomizes the concept of an adult entertainment Mecca and averages over 50 million out-of-state visitors per year.

. . .

A very little known fact – completely unknown to most visitors – is that prostitution is not universally legal in Nevada.  

. . .

The brothel business operates on the premise, widely accepted in Nevada, that brothel prostitutes are all adults truly exercising their voluntary, free and informed choice of profession.  While the premise is arguable on at least two counts, most prostitutes ‘enter’ the business in their early to mid-teens and there are rural brothels specializing solely in young Asian women that speak no English.  Brothel workers are not employees, but are contracted workers who frequently have an outside ‘manager.’  

. . .

Meanwhile, those purveying cheaper illegal prostitution, must increase their work force numbers and productivity in order to maintain their profit margins. Nevada’s dilemma when dealing with possible trafficking victims in rural brothels is classifying them for purposes such as this grant.  . . . Nevada’s legal brothels complicate development of a consistent statewide response to sex trafficking.  

 . . .

Nevada’s recognition as one of the top trafficking destinations by multiple government and non-profit advocacy agencies is earned by effectively marketing the state’s entertainment and fantasy fulfillment possibilities.  

(See: OVC FY 2014 Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Grant Application Nevada Office of the Attorney General – Program Narrative.)

These observations and conclusions directly support the abolition of legal prostitution because legalization directly contributes to the sex trafficking problem we have in Nevada. Moreover, legal prostitution and sex trafficking encourages a culture of violence against women.  Nevada has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the nation, leads the nation in domestic violence resulting in death, and has the 5th highest rape rate in the nation.

And for those that say legalization improves public health, the fact is Nevada is in the top 10 states with the highest STD rates (we are first in the nation for syphilis infections – both primary and secondary). And, STD checks in brothels penalize the woman being commercially exploited for sex, but not the men buying the women for sex or the brothel selling them.  

Prostitution is not dangerous and dehumanizing because it is illegal. It is illegal and should remain so because it is dangerous and dehumanizing.

As I have painfully learned during my legal work and advocacy over the past decade, residents of the entire state have been groomed and desensitized to the harms of commercial sexual exploitation of women and men in much the same way that southern states were desensitized to dehumanization and the harms caused by slavery. In conclusion, dear reader, let me leave you with this question:

Cui bono? Who benefits? Who stands to gain from legalization and/or decriminalization? Pimps and brothel owners benefit. Sex buyers benefit. Government entities benefit. But the human beings who are commercially sexually exploited do not benefit.  

The inequalities and harms in prostitution are irreparable and unacceptable.  Therefore, Nevadans and their elected leaders should put an end legalized prostitution and oppose efforts to decriminalize locally and nationally.    

Jason D. Guinasso is a Nevada Independent opinion page contributor and managing partner of law firm Hutchison & Steffen’s Reno office. He is a litigator and trial attorney who also maintains an appellate practice, which includes petitions for judicial review of administrative decisions, extraordinary writs, and appeals to the Nevada Supreme Court. He also is legal counsel for the Reno/Fernley Crisis Pregnancy Center and an associate pastor at Ministerio Palabra de Vida where he serves a diverse multicultural church.

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