Should prostitution be legalized?
Not only should prostitution be legalized I believe it should be regulated as well. Not tolerated, not decriminalized, but legalized and regulated full on. Let's face it, you're never going to get rid of some things, prostitution is one of them, you might as well legalize and regulate some of them to make it safer for the people involved. It's the same stance I have for marijuana legalization.
Prostitution has been around since about 2400 BC. It's not going anywhere anytime soon. Because of the nature of their jobs and the stigma against them, prostitutes are susceptible to STD's, rape and homicide. If a prostitute exchanges sex for money and gets stiffed, she has no one to go to and loses out on the money she puts herself in danger earning. Likewise if she refuses a certain sex act and a client forces it upon her, chances are she might not go to the police for fear of being treated like a criminal herself. This is not even touching upon the stigma that rape and sexual assault is the fault of the prostitute for putting themselves in the position to be taken advantage of due to the nature of their professions. In 2007 it was estimated that over one million people have worked as prostitutes, that's just women, it's not counting the male escorts. These people deserve to have the legal protection to do their jobs safely and without worry.
There is a theory that legalizing prostitution would also lead to a decrease in human sex trafficking if it is regulated. With more sex workers to supply the demand of sex, it will drive human trafficking out of business. Also along the lines of the human trafficking business, with prostitution legalized police could then focus their efforts on identifying and stopping human trafficking.
To make a long post short, I think instead of criminalizing, prosecuting and oppressing the people that go into this part of the sex industry, we should be empowering them and helping them in any way possible.