According to the evidence, it sure looks that way. Economist Alex Tabarrok lists a number of studies demonstrating this:
- From 1994-2011, legalized prostitution zones reduced sexual abuse and rape by 30-40% among 25 Dutch cities.
- Between 2004-2009, decriminalization of indoor prostitution in Rhode Island led to a 31% decrease in reported rape offenses and a 39% decrease in female gonorrhea.
- From 2004 to 2012, “a single indoor prostitution establishment [in New York City] leads to a 0.4% daily reduction in sexual violence per precinct” (pg. 14).
He concludes, “It’s become common to think that rape is about power and not about sex. No doubt. But some of it is about sex…In short, a wide variety of evidence from different authors, times and places, and experiments shows clearly and credibly that prostitution reduces rape. This finding is of great importance in considering how prostitution should be rationally regulated.”