A Cambridge university academic has defended prostitution and claimed that relaxing the law would be good for society.
Victoria Bateman, an economist at the university, argues that current restrictions are sexist as men are able to earn money from their bodies by being soldiers or boxers.
However, countries where the practice has been decriminalised have seen continued exploitation and violence.
In an article for The Times Higher Education Supplement, Bateman described Britain’s attitude towards prostitution as an ‘irrational societal norm’.
She wrote: “The usual justification… is that the sale of sex is ‘immoral’ and preys on the most vulnerable in society… However, there is a logical inconsistency with the way that we think about consensual prostitution… compared with the male-dominated spheres of soldiering and boxing”.
Bateman complained that it is “fine” for people born with “high-level numerical or literacy skills” to work in professions where they are useful, but “shameful” for women to make money with “skills” relevant to prostitution.
She added: “Those engaging in consensual sex work need to be helped to benefit from markets that work with them rather than against them.”
In summer last year, a spokeswoman for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that decriminalising prostitution in New Zealand led to a rise in human trafficking.
Germany also saw a rise in exploitation and violence after a decision to relax the law there.
In England and Wales, research shows that ‘indoor’ prostitutes are mainly migrants, who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, has said: “Marriage provides the most stable and secure environment for sexual intimacy.
“When a society departs from this and turns sex into something which can be bought and sold, it brings untold harm on the individual and on wider society.”
“Prostitution, by its very nature, is harmful and degrading to women. It is inextricably linked to drug abuse, exploitation and violence.”