Thursday 22 March 2018

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Review of our sex laws must be fully informed

Public debate is vital before we decide to criminalise men who use prostitutes, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

The other night, I was involved in a heated discussion on the legalisation of prostitution. There was a middle-aged man on one side, and three women from 30 to 60-something on the other.

He was aghast that we were in favour and insisted that it was a counsel of despair to say there would always be men determined to buy sex. We declared ourselves pragmatists and accused him of being a hopeless romantic, who was failing to accept that -- regrettably -- some aspects of human nature were immutable.

However, when I mentioned that there was a movement in Ireland to criminalise the purchase of sex, everyone agreed it was mad. Quite apart from anything else, what morally was the difference between paying a prostitute for sex, having a one-night-stand because the person you'd been buying drinks for suddenly thought you irresistible, treating someone to a wonderful dinner and seducing her afterwards, or cajoling your trophy wife into sex by buying her yet another handbag.

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