Mound House, Nevada, Sep 19, 2018 / 02:07 pm (CNA).- Lyon County is one of the 10 counties in Nevada that allow for legal prostitution. But this November, Lyon County voters will have an opportunity to end the practice.
The initiative is a project of the End Trafficking and Prostitution Political Action Committee. Brenda Simpson, who works with the committee, told the BBC that prostitution is a type of slavery.
A recent petition has gained enough signatures from Lyon County residents to introduce a ballot initiative to close the four brothers in the rural county. If the initiative is successful, the political action committee hopes to imitate it in other counties as well. Similar efforts are already underway in Nye County.
Brothels have been legal in some of Nevada’s counties since 1971. Advocates argue that legalized prostitution ensures safety measures are followed and benefits both owners and women. Opponents, however, argue that prostitution preys on vulnerable women who are usually not making a truly free choice.
Melissa Holland, executive director of the nonprofit Awaken, which fights to end sex trafficking, cited a two-year research study which found that legalized prostitution improves the lives of brothel owners rather than the women who work in them.
The 2007 study found violations against women – including sexual violence and drug abuse – in the legal brothels of Nevada, she told the BBC.
Holland also said many women in both legal and illegal prostitution were exploited when they were young, and were raised to look at themselves as objects.
“They turn 18, and they’ve grown up in a state that says, ‘Hey, this is a viable option for you, so let’s legally continue the exploitation,’” she said, according to the Washington Post.
“That’s not choice. These women were not raised to actually look at themselves and choose this. They have been told this is what you’re good for, and Nevada has said let’s make that a viable option.”
Editor’s note: This story previously stated that 16 Nevada counties permit prostitution. 10 counties permit prostitution. The story has been corrected.