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News Link • Sexuality: Sex and the Law

Mexico's State-Run Brothel Shows Us The Benefits Of Making Prostitution Legal

•, Ronald Weitzer
Readers may not be aware that prostitution is legal and regulated  in 13  of Mexico’s 31 states. A study by anthropologist  Patty Kelly sheds light on one such system: the Galactic Zone outside Tuxtla in the state of Chiapas. Given the small scale of the Zone and Tuxtla’s population of half a million, there remains plenty of illegal prostitution in the area.

Moreover, some of the Galactic Zone’s regulations are obtrusive, such as the mandatory health card that includes the worker’s name, photo, and health status and must be renewed every three months  (workers are routinely tested for syphilis and HIV).

Yet the Zone’s form of legal prostitution also has some benefits. First, the Zone appears to have broad popular support. In Tuxtla, “prostitution  is generally accepted (and sometimes valued) as long as it is confined and invisible,” which is precisely what the Galactic Zone accomplishes.

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