Template:WP has Child prostitution is a divisive issue in libertarian theory. Protection of young children and others deemed not competent to make informed decisions is an important aspect of the anarcho-capitalist/minarchist debate. Some purists oppose having the government establish an arbitrary age of consent for such activity; they believe the market can take care of it. There is some overlap among the arguments relating to child prostitution and child pornography.
Self-ownership implies that one has the right to do what he wishes with his own body. The issue of child prostitution was raised during Mary Ruwart's Presidential campaign, due to some comments she had made in her book, Short Answers to the Tough Questions:
- Children forced to participate in sexual acts have the same rights and recourse as rape victims. We can, and should, prosecute their oppressors. Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if itâ€™s distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess; this is part of life. When we outlaw child pornography, the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentives for parents to use children against their will.
In the absence of statutes against child prostitution, the market might still provide such regulations. For instance, landlords might prohibit such activity on their property as part of a lease agreement. Those who patronize or otherwise support the child prostitution industry might be blacklisted and ostracized. This could include private vendors refusing to provide roads and other necessary utilities to such businesses. Private police, being more efficient than public police, would probably be able to enforce such prohibitions more rigorously than government.
It is also possible that as prosperity rises in a libertarian society, and more avenues for income are opened up, child prostitution could become less of an appealing employment option. If child labor were legalized, for instance, children would have many other ways to earn money. Runaways would be able to make a living without selling their bodies.
If a child prostitution industry were to emerge, however, there is also the potential that legalization would result in harm reduction. Since businesses would be operating in the open, it would be possible for prospective sex workers to obtain information on the reputation of potential employers, which could give abusive pimps a competitive disadvantage. Businesses might have an incentive to invest in their employees rather than view them as disposable, since the absence of the threat of a shutdown would allow such companies to exist on a long-term basis.
Child pornography should be treated like any other type of crime scene photographs. We do not ban people from possessing footage of the JFK assassination, even though it could not have been produced without an illegal act being committed.