A cautionary note: This post talks about prostitution and pornography, so I recommend hiding it if those subjects can be triggers for you.
I'm genuinely curious to hear peoples' thoughts on justifying keeping or making prostitution illegal, in particular because most of the people I know believe it should be illegal.
First off, let's get one thing out of the way: Everyone who knows me knows I'm a loud and active Christian. I do not support prostitution in any financial or moral way nor would I if it were legal, the same I way I do not support pornography, alcohol, and adultery even though those are legal. So don't come at me with some "sO yOu SuPpOrT PrOsTiTuTiOn?!"
For me, the number one argument will always be that it is ideologically inconsistent to believe prostitution should be illegal while pornography can be legal, even if it has restrictions (i.e. must be over 18 to buy). The only difference between pornography and prostitution is the former is filmed or photographed and then distributed to the masses. Both are the payment in exchange for sex, yet somehow the version that involves redistributing it to others is better or more tolerable legally?
It's interesting because I find most people will have a more disgusted reaction when you mention something like prostitution rather than pornography, the exact same thing but with the intent to show others.
Your reaction might be to make pornography illegal, to which I say, "Good luck." All you will do is create a black market, and you won't solve the problems associated with it, like porn addiction. People will just turn to much worse places or settle for softcore content – porn producers can always switch over to TV so they can film sex scenes where the actors realistically simulate it without actually doing it. No amount of fine print will prevent it from happening.
There is also some very limited evidence that legalizing prostitution gets rid of a lot of the horrible aspects of it, like reducing trafficking. But there's also some evidence that finds the opposite. The argument goes that it's easier to hold a licensed company accountable to its services than one operating in the black market. For example, in places where marijuana is legal, you see more and more people buying from stores rather than dealers.
Genuinely curious to hear your thoughts.