Prostitution tax: you can sell your body, but we want a cut

As millions of Americans rush to submit their taxes one week from today, taxes are on the brain, and I heard something on the radio this morning that struck a chord with me. The state of Nevada, which is one of two states that allows some legal prostitution, is considering a bill proposed by Sen. Bill Coffin that will levy a $5 tax on sex acts. In other words: we’re broke, let’s tax the prostitutes.

I like to think that humans are evolving to a higher consciousness, eventually leaving behind violence, racism and sexism (among other things), but news such as this leaves me feeling disheartened. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s going to pass.

The argument for the bill: the state, facing a more than $2.8 billion revenue shortfall, is desperate for money and prostitution is an industry willing to pay. Annually, this tax could collect an estimated $2 million. Talk about tainted money.

The argument against the bill: it is “an act of legislative pimping” and it gives prostitution legitimacy. The tax proceeds would be “blood money” derived from “a form of sexual abuse” and “paid rape.” In other words, some people still recognize the absurdity in prostitution.

An industry willing to pay? How can you call prostitution in industry? It is a disgrace. An embarrassment for Americans that it is legal anywhere in our country. If you don’t agree, tell me how you would feel if your daughter, mother or sister decided tomorrow to become a prostitute. You would, rightfully so, be horrified. Horrified by the shame and the fear for her safety and her health. If it is not acceptable for your daughter to be a prostitute, why is it ok for someone else’s daughter?

Sen. Maggie Carlton said it very well, “It’s tough enough raising teenage daughters without adding this to the mix.” Those with boys will be worried too when they realize that their teenage son has little respect for women in spite of good parenting and having an older sister at home. Our society is aghast at the promiscuity of pre-teens, but what else can we expect when sex is treated as something about as sacred as a haircut?

A prostitute in support of the bill has said “If $5 per person can raise $2 million a year, I’m all for it.” So, the government has estimated that about 400,000 legal sex acts are performed each year in Nevada, or about 1,096 per day. This is not even including Las Vegas, where in spite of prostitution being illegal, the number of prostitutes is estimated to be 10,000. It’s a sad, sad world out there.

A woman does not enter prostitution because it is what she dreamed of doing when she was a little girl. She enters the industry because she needs money. Usually desperate for money. Maybe she has been abused or abandoned. She could be a drug addict or a single mom. But no matter the individual’s unique situation, she has an extremely demeaning and dehumanizing job that will always, with no exceptions, take its toll on both her mental and physical health.

If laws are meant to protect ourselves from ourselves, then the state of Nevada is failing. And to Sen. Bill Coffin: karma can be a bitch!

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