For decades, few people noticed that legislators in Providence had deleted crucial language from Rhode Island state law in 1980. It wasn't until a 2003 court case that police, to their chagrin, discovered they couldn't prevent prostitutes and their customers from engaging in commercial exchange.
For the next six years until legislators corrected their error, the oldest profession was not a crime in Rhode Island -- and public health and public safety substantially improved as a result, according to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The statewide incidence of gonorrhea among women declined by 39 percent, and the number of rapes reported to police in the state declined by 31 percent, according to the paper.
Not sure I completely buy the "as a result" statement of causal proof, however. Somehow I don't think the type of men who commit rape are the same type who would patronize prostitutes. Rape is about control, not sexual gratification. In the same way, I don't think the argument can be made that allowing priests to marry would have anything to do with causing a reduction in sexual predation by certain priests. The priests who want to get married are not the same priests who can't control their lust for children.
But the drop in the number of rapes is so huge that something has to account for it. Intriguing, what?