Dr. Rawlins on Commercial Sex, Morality, and Law

The School of Law seminar of December 7, 2018, dwelled on “Prostitution, Morality, and the Law: Taking Another Look.”

Assistant Vice President of Security & Safety Operations, Dr. Lionel von Frederick Rawlins, who took on the topic, presented detailed pros and cons of commercial sex work but stopped short of calling for legalizing or criminalizing prostitution.

Would a [civilized] society permit this practice, or would it be banned under the law?

Dr. Rawlins examined various arguments such as the moral arguments for commercializing prostitution, arguments for regulation, and many others.

He said, “Empirical result shows that opening designated areas, especially for prostitutes to engage in their practice as is done in the Netherlands reduces sexual abuse and rape. The result shows that there was a 30 percent reduction [in sex crimes] within two years of opening.”

He maintained that prostitution ‘has come to stay, having been practiced since the ancient era.’

Taking a somewhat controversial position, Dr. Rawlins contended that the majority of women engaged in commercial sex in developing countries like Nigeria usually come from low-income households but that these people’s sexual inclination, rather than poverty, makes them go into the practice.

Responding to whether a rape charge can emanate from an encounter with a commercial sex worker, he answered in the affirmative, citing two real-life cases to buttress the point.

Dr. Rawlins also claimed that students in many of the universities in Nigeria engage in the practice ‘for the fun of it.’

The interim Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Patrick Fay, said Dr. Rawlins’s presentation was balanced because he gave both sides of the arguments in a detailed manner.

President Dekle who attended the seminar praised Dr. Rawlins for doing justice to such a “challenging topic” in public. She shared with the audience what happened to a colleague of hers in Singapore to illustrate that different countries deal with the issue in different ways.

Interim Dean of the School of Law, Professor Mohammed Lawal Ahmadu, said the seminar was a continuation of the school’s seminar series.

“We will continue to invite guest speakers, bringing in people from outside to enrich the debate.”

Reported by Omorogbe Omorogiuwa