(Suzette Cole) – God bless Kevin Malone.
Mr. Malone, former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is now competing against a new and far more dangerous opponent right here in Nevada: The illegal sex trafficking market.
As co-founder and president of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, Mr. Malone is fighting to “save the lives of children caught in this dark and barbaric industry.” A noble cause. And one every person with an ounce of decency should embrace. However…
No serious discussion of this issue and how to combat the practice can take place without adding to the mix the one proven solution that certain parts of Nevada have embraced for almost 50 years now: Legalizing, taxing and regulating prostitution among consenting adults.
In a recent op-ed published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mr. Malone writes that “Las Vegas is a hub for sex trafficking, including among minors.” And he cites an Arizona State University study that found that “one in five underage victims was brought to Las Vegas specifically for the purpose of sex trafficking.”
Pure evil. But in order to have a serious, rational debate on how to end illegal sex trafficking in America, two distinctions must be clearly made.
One, that there’s a BIG difference between adults forced into prostitution and adults who freely and willingly engage in such sex-for-fee work. And two, that minors – unlike adults – are not able to give legal consent.
“When a man pays for sex,” Mr. Malone wrote, “he has no idea whether that ‘willing 21-year-old’ he is buying is really 14 – or whether she’s in the room because she’s being forced by someone else.”
In the illegal sex trade, this is absolutely true.
However, it’s absolutely NOT true in Nevada’s legal brothels, where every sex worker must be an adult who is issued a sheriff’s work permit after being fingerprinted and subjected to age verification and an FBI background check.
As such there are NO underage prostitutes working in Nevada’s legal brothels.
So, if your concern is truly to eliminate underage sex trafficking, then Nevada’s legal brothel system is the most effective, PROVEN weapon. The problem: Legal brothels are prohibited in Las Vegas which, as Mr. Malone notes, is ground zero for the illegal sex industry.
Back in the “old days” the government prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol. But people still wanted their adult beverages and found so many ways around Prohibition that Prohibition was eventually repealed.
Now the sale of alcohol is legal, taxed and regulated nationwide.
Similarly, at one time gambling was considered a societal no-no. But people were bound and determined to gamble no matter what government nannies said. Eventually Nevada legalized, taxed and licensed the activity – and is now considered the “gold standard” for regulating the industry nationwide.
Ditto marijuana, now legalized, taxed and licensed in Nevada.
Oh, and gay marriage – another activity between consenting adults the government has no business prohibiting. The U.S. Supreme Court has said so. Thus, gay marriages are now legal, taxed and licensed nationwide.
The next obvious frontier: Legalizing, taxing and regulating prostitution.
Like it or not, that’s the single best way to get rid of illegal street pimps who traffic underaged girls – just as legalizing marijuana has put so many illegal pot dealers out of business. And the revenue generated by taxing legal sex-for-fee work could be earmarked for programs to continue battling the illegal sex market.
We should all be grateful that Mr. Malone and others have dedicated so much time and effort to saving child victims from this scourge. But to ignore or oppose the one proven weapon in the war, legalization of fee-for-sex among consenting adults, is short-sighted.
It’s time to put EVERY option on the table in the fight against the “dark and barbaric” illegal sex trafficking industry. And it’s time to stop conflating illegal sex trafficking, especially of minors, with what happens in Nevada’s legal, licensed and regulated brothels.
Do that, Mr. Malone, and you’ll find some powerful new allies in your commendable cause. Soldier on. And let us know how we can help.
Ms. Cole is CEO of four legal brothels in Lyon County, Nevada and president of the Nevada Brothel Association. For more information, please visit www.NevadaBrothelAssociation.com