What Is a Sex Worker.???
Working Definitions for Working Girls and Guys in a highly Complex and Stratified Industry - but notice no definition yet for cyber-prostitution
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Prostitution is the sale of sexual services, such as oral sex or sexual intercourse. A person selling sexual services is a prostitute, a type of sex worker. In a more general sense of the word, anyone selling his/her services for a cause thought to be unworthy can be described as prostituting him/herself. In the United Kingdom a prostitute is any individual, "who allows his/her body to be used for lewd purposes in return for payment".
Overview and definitions
While prostitutes and their clients represent all sexes and all sexual orientations and prostitutes are considered to be shameful or individuals of low standing in most societies; in some cultures, their customers are typically also looked down upon but are usually tolerated to a greater degree than the prostitute. Prostitution is illegal today in most countries.
The English word whore, referring to (female) prostitutes, is taken from the Old English word hōra (from the Indo-European root kā meaning "to like, desire") but usage of that word is widely considered pejorative while prostitute is simply a descriptive term.
Male prostitutes offering their services to male customers are called "escorts", "call boys", "hustlers", "rent boys", "gigolos", "trade", "man ho", "boy toys" or "bitches." Male prostitutes offering services to female customers are known as "escorts", "giglis", or "gigolos."
The term prostitution is sometimes used in the more general meaning of having sex in order to achieve a certain goal different from procreation or pleasure. This includes forms of religious prostitution in which sex is practiced in compliance with religious precepts. Prostitution in this broader sense is also used in spying or graft. Ancient China is replete with well-known instances of using sex to undermine an enemy. (See Xi Shi, Diao Chan)
Types of prostitution
Prostitution today occurs in various different settings.
In street prostitution the prostitute solicits customers while waiting at street corners or walking alongside a street.
Prostitution occurs in some massage parlors and in Asian countries in some barber shops where sexual services may be offered for an additional tip.
Where prostitution is more out in the open, solicitation is done at bars, even open-air bars. Thailand is famous world-wide for these establishments.
Brothels are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution.
Prostitution can also take place in the prostitute's apartment and in many countries this is the only legal form of prostitution. A hybrid between brothel and apartment prostitution exists in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, China and the Netherlands: female prostitutes rent tiny one-room apartments and solicit customers from behind windows or through advertising.
In escort or out-call prostitution, the customer calls an agency and the act takes place at the customer's place of residence or more commonly at his or her hotel room. This form of prostitution often shelters under the umbrella of escort agencies, who supply attractive escorts for social occasions. While some escort agencies provide non-sexual services only, many turn a blind eye to escorts who provide additional sexual services or actively encourage them. Alternately, an escort may work independently of an agency and place advertisements in newspapers and magazines for his or her own services. Even where this prostitution is legal, the euphemistic term "escort service" is common. See call girl. In the US, escort agencies advertise frequently on the World Wide Web and example advertisements can be readily found on any major search engine.
The setting common in Russia and other countries of the former USSR takes the form of an open-air girl market. One prostitute stands by a roadside, and directs cars to a so-called "tochka" (usually located in alleyways or carparks), where lines of women are paraded for customers in front of their car headlights. The client selects a prostitute, whom he takes away in his car. This leaves the woman (often very young girls) particularly open to abuse. Prevalent in the late 90s, this type of service has been steadily declining in the recent years.
A "lot lizard" is a commonly-encountered special case of street prostitution. Lot lizards mainly serve those in the trucking industry at truck stops and stopping centers. Prostitutes will often proposition truckers using a CB radio from vehicle parked in the non-commercial section of a truck stop parking lot, communicating through codes based on commercial driving slang, then join the driver in his truck.
Main article: Street prostitution
In street prostitution, the prostitute solicits customers while waiting at street corners or walking alongside a street, usually dressed in skimpy, suggestive clothing. Often the prostitute (commonly called a "hooker", "street hooker", or "streetwalker" to distinguish them from other sex workers) appears to mind his or her own business and waits for the customer to initiate contact. The act is performed in the customer's car or in a nearby alley or rented room (motels that service prostitutes commonly rent rooms by the half or full hour).
Calling cards in phone boxes advertise the services of call girls
Main article: Call girl
Those who work for an escort agency may obtain the position by responding to an employment advertisement, usually placed in a regional newspaper. Escort agencies maintain a database or "stable" of employees of different types in order to cater to a wider client base. Some agencies may specifically deal in a certain type of prostitute. There are male-for-male, female-for-male, and female-for-female escort agencies, as well as a few male-for-female agencies. Agencies commonly specialise in only one sex. Transsexual prostitutes are available from some escort agencies.
Escort agencies typically advertise in regional publications and even telephone listings like the Yellow Pages. Many of them maintain websites with photo galleries of their employees. An interested client contacts an agency by telephone and offers a description of what kind of escort they are looking for. The agency will then suggest an employee who might fit the of a much client's need.
The agency collects the client's contact information and calls the escort. It is then up to the escort to contact directly the client to make arrangements for an appointment. The escort then makes a call to the agency to confirm the appointment's location and time. Generally the escort is also expected to call the agency upon arrival at the location and upon leaving to assure his or her safety.
The purpose of these details is to protect the escort agency (to some degree) from prosecution for breaking the law. If the employee is solely responsible for arranging any illegal aspects of their professional encounter the agency can maintain plausible deniability should an arrest be made.
The amount of money that is made by an escort is different depending on race, appearance, age, experience (eg. pornography and magazine work), gender, services rendered, and location. Generally male escorts command less on an hourly basis than do women, while white women quote higher rates than black women, and youth can be as much a premium. For one point of reference reflecting trends in the gay community, the gay escort agency "TOPPS", based in Washington, D.C., charges $150 an hour for male escorts, and $250 an hour for transsexuals. That agency takes $50 an hour from the contractor.
Typically, an agency will charge their escorts either a flat fee for each client connection or a percentage of the pre-arranged rate. In San Francisco, it is usual for typical heterosexual-market agencies to negotiate for as little as $100, up to a full 50 percent of a ladies reported earnings (not counting any gratuity received). Most transactions occur in cash, and optional tipping of escorts by clients in most major US cities is customary but not compulsory. Credit card processing offered by larger scale agencies is often available for a service charge.
Independent escorts, also known as providers or hobbyists, have differing fees depending on many factors. For example; different seasons bring about different costs, as do regular and semi-regular customers.
Socio-economic and legal status of prostitution
There is a superficial class divide among sex workers in Western countries. It is percieved that street based sex workers are at the low end of the scale, and that model-gorgeous sex workers are at the higher end. In between there are brothel workers, escort workers, independent escort workers and those who organize in collectives. The services do tend to all be very similar however, even if the locations vary, and prices are not always variant. For example, a street based sex worker who is paid $100 for sex may only take 15 minutes in the back seat of a clients car, however a brothel worker may have to do a full half hour sex job for less than $50.
The main difference in Western Countries between different forms of sex work is the legality. Street based sex work is illegal all over the world except for New South Wales Australia and New Zealand, and enforcement of prostitution laws fall to police vice units. Another major factor is migration status. Illegal immigrants from fellow western countries can travel freely and work without attention from authorities. However migrants such as Asians, Russians or citizens of countries in Latin America tend to be the focus of anti-trafficking attention and subject to being detained and deported. In Australia recent Senate inquiries have even heard about the un-investigated deportation of sex workers who may have actually been working legally in the sex industry. Although the motivation of many governmental and NGO efforts to end human trafficking in this way is sincere, some have levelled criticism at the amount of effort put into ending the trafficking of women and children for sex when compared to the trafficking of people for non-sex labor, which is a far larger enterprise, touching on hundreds of different industries.
In addition to the first world, this also takes place in countries of South Asia such as India and Thailand, where young girls are sometimes sold to brothel owners. In modern day Thailand and India this is becoming much rarer.
Thailand is a destination of sex tourists, travellers from rich countries in search of sexual services where their dollar is worth more. Other popular sex tourism destinations are Brazil, the Caribbean, and former eastern bloc countries.
Female prostitutes, especially street prostitutes, may be subject to violence and control of a pimp, a man who lives off the proceeds of several prostitutes. Pimping is one way in which disenfranchised young women are recruited into sex work; the pimp will provide financial and emotional support, acting as boyfriend/friend, but eventually ask the young woman to perform sex acts for money. The relationship is volatile and dangerous to the young woman.
There are other commercial sexual activities that are generally not classified as prostitution. These include acting and modeling for pornographic materials, even if this involves engaging in sexual intercourse; exotic dancing, which is naked, sexually provocative acting (sometimes involving masturbation) without physical contact with the customer; lap dancing, where the dancer may come into contact with the customer in sexually provocative but strictly limited ways; and the services of professional dominants.
In the case California v. Freeman, the California Supreme Court ruled that adult film makers could not be prosecuted under state laws against prostitution.
Legality of selling sex
Prostitutes working in their vans in Lyon, France-This form of prostitution, called BMC in France, is highly developed there
At one end of the legal spectrum, prostitution carries the death penalty in some Muslim countries; at the other end, prostitutes are tax-paying and unionised professionals in the Netherlands and brothels are legal and advertising businesses there (however, prostitutes must be at least 18 and the age of consent is 16 in other contexts). The legal situation in Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand is almost as liberal as in the Netherlands (see prostitution in the Netherlands, prostitution in Germany and prostitution in New Zealand). In New South Wales. Australia any person over the age of 18 may offer to provide sexual services in return for money. In Victoria, Australia prostitutes are required to be licenced. In some countries the legal status of prostitution may vary depending on the activity; in Japan, for example, vaginal prostitution is against the law and fellatio prostitution is legal (note that women who perform fellatio for money are not considered prostitutes in Japan).
In all but two U.S. states, the buying and selling of sexual services is illegal and usually classified as a misdemeanor. Regulated brothels are legal in a number of counties of Nevada (see prostitution in Nevada). In Rhode Island, the bare act of sex for money is not illegal, but street solicitation and operating a brothel are.
Rules vary as to which roles in prostitution are illegal: being a prostitute, being a client, or being a pimp. In Sweden it is legal to sell sex, but since 1999 it has been a crime to buy it. In the case of a prostitute under 18 in the Netherlands, being the client or pimp is illegal, but being the prostitute is not, except if the client is also underage (under 16). In most countries with criminalized prostitution, prostitutes are arrested and prosecuted at a far higher rate than their clients.
In Brazil prostitution per se is legal, but taking advantage or profit from others' prostitution is illegal.
In Spain prostitution is legal in buildings called puticlubs, but only Spanish citizens are allowed to be prostitutes.
In Thailand, prostitution is illegal as stated in Prevention and Suppression Act, B.E. 2539 (1996).
Establishments engaged in sexual slavery or owned by organized crime are the highest priority targets of law enforcement actions against prostitution. Police also frequently intervene when prompted by local resident complaints, often directed against street prostitution. In most countries where prostitution is illegal, at least some forms of it are tolerated. This ambiguous status allows the police to extort money or services, particularly information on criminal activities that prostitutes are often well-placed to obtain, from prostitutes in exchange for "looking the other way".
Pimping is a sex crime in almost all jurisdictions. Some other countries retain the ill-defined offence of "living off the proceeds of others' prostitution", one of the Prima facie evidences of which is co-habiting with a prostitute.
In 1949, the United Nations adopted a convention stating that prostitution is incompatible with human dignity, requiring all signing parties to punish pimps and brothel owners and operators and to abolish all special treatment or registration of prostitutes. The convention was ratified by 89 countries but Germany, the Netherlands and the United States did not participate.
Some municipalities in the Netherlands would like a "zero tolerance policy" for brothels, i.e. not allow any, on moral grounds, but by law this is not possible. However, regulations, including restrictions in number and location are common. Whether a zero policy on urban planning grounds is allowed is still unclear.
In his stand up comedy routine "Doin' It Again," George Carlin wonders why prostitution is illegal. In his words, "'Selling' is legal. 'Fucking' is legal. Why isn't 'selling fucking' legal?" He goes on to ask ". . . why should it be illegal to sell something that's perfectly legal to give away?"
In countries where prostitution is legal, advertising it may be legal (as in the Netherlands) or illegal (as in Germany). In countries where prostitution is illegal, advertising it is usually also illegal.
Covert advertising for prostitution can take a number of forms:
by cards in newsagents' windows
by cards placed in public telephone enclosures: so-called tart cards
by euphemistic advertisements in regular magazines and newspapers (for instance, talking of "massages" or "relaxation")
in specialist contact magazines
via the World Wide Web
Main article: Legalized prostitution
In some jurisdictions, such as Nevada (see prostitution in Nevada), Switzerland and in three Australian states (Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Queensland), prostitution is legal but heavily regulated.
Such approaches are taken with the stance that prostitution is impossible to eliminate and thus these societies have chosen to regulate it in ways that reduce the more undesirable consequences. Goals of such regulations include controlling sexually transmitted disease, reducing sexual slavery, controlling where brothels may operate and dissociating prostitution from crime syndicates.
The Dutch legalisation of prostitution has similar objectives, as well as improving health and working conditions for the women and weakening the link between prostitution and criminality.
Daily Planet was a brothel in Melbourne, Australia whose shares were listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2003, before legal difficulties forced its closure. There are various regulatory regimes governing prostitution in Australia and a level of increasing professionalism is being seen in the industry with the establishment of business associations like the Queensland Adult Business Association  that ascribe to a strict ethical code which entrenches the independence of service providers.
Prostitution of children
Main article: prostitution of children
Regarding the prostitution of children the laws on prostitution as well as those on sex with a child apply. If prostitution in general is legal there is usually a minimum age requirement for legal prostitution that is higher than the general age of consent (see above for some examples). Although some countries do not single out patronage of child prostitution as a separate crime, same act is punishable as sex with an underage.
Prostitution and illegal immigration
A difficulty in many developed countries is the situation where persons immigrate illegally and work in the sex trade. (This is not quite the same issue as kidnapping and sex slavery). These people face deportation, and so do not have recourse to the law. Hence there are brothels that do not adhere to the usual legal standards intended to safeguard public health and the safety of the workers.
Main article: Sex tourism
Sex tourism is tourism, partially or fully for the purpose of having sex, usually with prostitutes. Sex tourism destinations are typically poor countries, where poverty drives people into prostitution. Examples of these countries are: Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Cuba and Brazil. Cambodia has become a notorious destination for pedophiles and Argentina is now home to a significant number of so called sexpatriates, who have emigrated there to avail of the cheap peso and the opportunities for sexual exploitation Argentina's depressed economy gives them.
Some sex tourists organize themselves around a number of web sites where they boast about their conquests, share photos of their sex partners, discuss tips on finding prostitutes at the best possible rates in foreign countries and how to avoid detection both at home and abroad. Although most countries with a major sex tourism industry are working on attempting to reduce or eliminate sex tourism, the sex tourists have vested interests to promote their cause. Cities like Angeles City in the Philippines and Pattaya in Thailand can be seen as catering to foreigners who go there to buy sexual favors.
Some pedophiles use sex tourism to have access to sex with children that is unavailable in their home country. Several western countries have recently enacted laws with extraterritorial reach punishing citizens who, as sex tourists, engage in sex with minors in other countries. These laws are rarely enforced since the crime usually goes undiscovered.   
Violence against prostitutes
Prostitutes are often victims of violent crime.  Perpetrators include violent clients, pimps, and corrupt law-enforcement officers. Prostitutes (particularly those engaging in street prostitution) are also sometimes the targets of serial killers, who may consider them easy targets, or use the religious and social stigma associated with prostitutes as justification for their murder. Being criminals in most jurisdictions, prostitutes are less likely than the law-abiding to be looked for by police if they disappear, making them favored targets of predators. Robert Pickton, a Canadian who lived near Vancouver, made headlines after the bodies of several prostitutes were found buried on his farm. He now stands charged with the murder of 27 Vancouver area women.
Human (or sex) trafficking
Main article: Trafficking in human beings
The trafficking in human beings includes recruiting, harbouring, obtaining, and transporting people by use of force, deception, fraud or intimidation for the purpose of subjecting them to involuntary acts, such as prostitution and use physical force, debt bondage or even force-feeding with drugs of abuse to control their victims. Some see human trafficking as the modern form of slavery. The trafficking in human beings is not the same as people smuggling. A smuggler will facilitate illegal entry into a country for a fee, but on arrival at their destination, the smuggled person is free; in people trafficking, the trafficking victim is kidnapped and enslaved. The trafficker takes away the basic human rights of the victim. Victims do not agree to be trafficked: they are tricked and lured by false promises or physically forced.
Due to the illegal nature of trafficking (in this context, the illegal forced transportation of people), the exact extent of women and children forced into prostitution is unknown. A US Government report published in 2003, estimates that 800,000 – 900,000 people worldwide are trafficked across borders each year.  Between 80% and 90% of victims trafficked across international borders are women and girls who are trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced into prostitution. In addition, internal passport controls in Russia and Ukraine have led to widespread internal sex trafficking.
The 1996 report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography estimates that about one million children in Asia alone are victims of the sex trade. According to the International Labour Organization, the problem is especially alarming in Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal and India. 
Human trafficking is so common now that it is the third most profitable criminal activity in the world after illegal drugs and arms trafficking. Globally, forced labour - which includes sexual exploitation - generates $31bn, half of it in the industrialised world, a tenth in transition countries, the International Labour Organization says in a report on forced labour ("A global alliance against forced labour", ILO, 11 May 2005). Trafficking in people has been facilitated by porous borders and advanced communication technologies, it has become increasingly transnational in scope and highly lucrative. Unlike drugs or arms, women and children can be "sold" several times.
Since prostitutes tend to have large numbers of sexual partners, prostitution has often been associated with the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as AIDS.
However, in modern secular societies that have experienced the "sexual revolution" there is no real disparity in the number of sexual partners from prostitutes and non-prostitutes, as casual sex has become quite popular overall. Also, because prostitutes are well aware of the dangers of unprotected sex while the layperson may not, STD rates may actualy be lower in prostitutes then among the general population.
Typical responses to the problem are:
banning prostitution completely
introducing a system of registration for prostitutes that mandates health checks and other public health measures
educating prostitutes and their clients to encourage the use of barrier contraception and greater interaction with health care
Some think that the first two measures are counter-productive. Banning prostitution tends to drive it underground, making treatment and monitoring more difficult. Registering prostitutes makes the state complicit in prostitution and does not address the health risks of unregistered prostitutes. Both of the last two measures can be viewed as harm reduction policies.
In Australia where sex-work is largely legal, and registration of sex-work is not practiced, education campaigns have been extremely successful and the non-intravenous drug user (non-IDU) sex workers are among the lower HIV-risk communities in the nation. In part, this is probably due both to the legality of sex-work, and to the heavy general emphasis on education in regard to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Safer sex is heavily promoted as the major means of STI reduction in Australia, and sex education generally is at a high level. Sex-worker organisations regularly visit brothels and home workers, providing free condoms and lubricant, health information, and other forms of support.
The encouragement of safer sex practices, combined with regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases, has been very successful when applied consistently. Prostitution appears to have little effect as a vector of STDs when safer sex practices are applied consistently. However, in countries and areas where safer sex precautions are either unavailable or not practiced for cultural reasons, prostitution appears to be a very active disease vector for all STDs, including HIV/AIDS.
How common is prostitution?
According to the paper "Prostitution and the sex discrepancy in reported number of sexual partners", the number of full-time equivalent prostitutes in a typical area in the United States (Colorado Springs, CO, during 1970 - 1988) is estimated at 23 per 100,000 population (0.023%), of which fraction some 4% were under 18. The paper goes on to estimate a mean number of 868 male sexual partners per prostitute per year of active sex work, and offers the conclusion that men's self-reporting of prostitutes as sexual partners is seriously under-reported. The length of these prostitutes' working careers was estimated at a mean of 5 years.
A 1994 study found that 16 percent of 18 to 59-year-old men in a U.S. survey group had paid for sex (Gagnon, Laumann, and Kolata 1994). Unscientifically comparing the rates given by the two studies cited here alone, assuming a steady-state model, and adjusting for the five-year working career of women prostitutes, this can be used to estimate that [have-ever-been] male clients outnumbered [have-ever-been] female prostitutes by a ratio of roughly 80:1.
A number of reports over the last few decades have suggested that prostitution levels have fallen in sexually-liberal countries, perhaps as because of the increased availability of non-commercial non-marital sex.
Roughly speaking, the possible attitudes are:
abolition: "prostitution should be made to disappear"
"prostitution is immoral and prostitutes and their clients should be prosecuted": the prevailing attitude in much of the United States and Muslim countries;
"prostitution is a sad reality of exploitation of the prostitutes, especially women, but prostitutes should not be criminalized", the current situation in Turkey.
"the clients of prostitutes exploit the prostitutes": prostitutes are not prosecuted, but their clients are prosecuted, which is the current situation in Sweden.
prostitution is legal, but discouraged, while pimping is prohibited, the current situation in the United Kingdom and France among others;
regulation: prostitution may be considered a legitimate business; prostitution and the employment of prostitutes are legal, but regulated (with respect to health etc. concerns).
legalization: "prostitution is a victimless crime, and should be made completely legal so that it is no longer an underground activity, allowing the normal checks and balances of society and existing laws to apply"
decriminalization: "prostitution is labor like any other. Sex industry premises should not be subject to any special regulation or laws" such as in Australia and New Zealand. Proponents of this view often cite instances of government regulation under legalization that they consider intrusive, demeaning, or violent, but feel that criminalization adversely affects sex workers.
In some countries, there is controversy regarding the laws applicable to sex work. For instance, the legal stance of punishing pimping while keeping sex work legal but "underground" and risky is often denounced as hypocritical; opponents suggest either going the full abolition route and criminalize clients or making sex work a regulated business.
Many countries have sex worker advocacy groups which lobby against criminalization and discrimination of prostitutes. These groups generally oppose Nevada-style regulation and oversight, stating that prostitution should be treated like other professions. In the United States of America, one such group is COYOTE (an abbreviation for "Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics") and another is North American Task Force on Prostitution. In Australia the lead sex worker rights organisation is Scarlet Alliance, http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/ An international prostitute's rights organization is the International Committee for Prostitute's Rights as well as Network of Sex Work Projects http://www.nswp.org/
Other groups, often with religious backgrounds, focus on offering women a way out of the world of prostitution while not taking a position on the legal question.
Since most prostitutes are women, prostitution is a significant issue in feminist thought and activism. Feminists who believed prostitution was liberating for women developed a comprehensive body of theory that claimed to represent the interests of prostitutes. In the new discourse, the redefinition of prostitution as 'sex work' saw the development of the 'sex worker' movement, comprised of organisations such as the Australian Prostitutes Collective and COYOTE. The majority of these collectives were run by women who have never been prostitutes themselves. The development of a movement that believes in a right to prostitute, as opposed to a right to be free from prostitution, is thought to be due to a shift in attitudes towards prostitution caused by the academy and certain activists who believed that prostitution for women was tantamount to sexual liberation. 
Feminists who believed that prostitution was exploitative, such as authors like Andrea Dworkin, herself an ex-prostitute and passionate defender of women's rights, argued in the 1980's that commercial sex is a form of rape enforced by poverty (and often overt violence by pimps). Proponents reject the idea that prostitution can be reformed, as these feminists believe that prostitution is an inherently exploitative, sexist practice. Sweden's 1999 law forbidding the purchase (but not sale) of sex - which interprets prostitution from the view of the woman rather than that of the buyer - is among the more radical of approaches.
Sheila Jeffreys, a prominent academic at Univerisity of Melbourne in Australia, argues that sex workers suffer from a false consciousness, and for that reason, sex workers who speak of any positive experiences in sex work must be disbelieved. This is in opposition to her proposal in her 1990's book 'Lesbian Heresy' which argues that all women should be believed.Jeffreys contributed to a recent crackdown and the criminalisation of all brothels in the Australian state of Tasmania and supports the anti-prostitution migration agency Project Respect, known among prostitutes as Project DIS-Respect.
Prostitution is often described as "the world's oldest profession". Prostitution (at least in the modern sense) cannot have emerged before the emergence of money, which can only have taken place after the emergence of several trades, and it has been claimed that midwives are really the world's oldest profession. However, prostitution has been noted in Bonobo chimpanzee behavior based around access to food and gifts of food, and in penguins in regard to access for suitable stones for nest building. Until the age of industrialization the world was basically agrarian, so goods and services were most often obtained by barter. Any item normally exchanged for other goods was likely acceptable for a prostitute's services.
One of the first forms is sacred prostitution, supposedly practiced among Sumerians. In ancient sources (Herodotus, Thucydides) there are many traces of sacred prostitution, starting perhaps with Babylon, where each woman had to reach, once in their lives, the sanctuary of Militta (Aphrodites or Nana/Anahita) and there have sex with a foreigner as a sign of hospitality for a symbolic price.
A similar type of prostitution was practiced in Cyprus (Paphus) and in Corinth, where the temple counted more than a thousand prostitutes (hierodules), according to Strabo. It was widely in use in Sardinia and in some of the Phoenician cultures, usually in honour of the goddess ‘Ashtart. Presumably by the Phoenicians, this practice was developed in other ports of the Mediterranean Sea, such as Erice (Sicily), Locri Epizephiri, Croton, Rossano Vaglio, and Sicca Veneria. Other hypotheses regard Asia Minor, Lydia, Syria and Etruscans.
It was common in Israel too, but some prophets, like Hosea and Ezekiel, strongly fought it; it is assumed that it was part of the cults of Canaan, where a significant portion of prostitutes were male.
In the Bible there is a story in which a woman (Tamar) poses as a false prostitute to seemingly commit incest with her father-in-law (Judah). In actuality, she was performing a Levirate Marriage; but Judah, taking her for a harlot, promised to give her a kid from the flock in order to sleep with her. In Jericho, a prostitute named Rahab assisted Israelite spies and she eventually married a member of the Jewish people.
In ancient Greek society, prostitutes were independent and sometimes influential women who were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes. Some similarities have been found between the Greek Hetaera and the Japanese Geisha, complex figures that are perhaps in an intermediate position between prostitution and courtisanerie. (See also the Indian tawaif.) Some prostitutes in ancient Greece, such as Lais were as famous for their company as their beauty, and some of these women charged extraordinary sums for their services.
Roman Hetaera, Relief, around 2nd century, Head is missing
In Greece, Solon instituted the first of Athens' brothels (oik`iskoi) in the 6th century BC, and with the earnings of this business he built a temple dedicated to Aprodites Pandemo (or Qedesh), patron goddess of this commerce. The Greek word for prostitute is porne, derived from the verb pernemi (to sell), with the evident modern evolution. The procuring was however severely forbidden.
Each specialised category had its proper name, so there were the chamaitypa`i, working outdoor (lie-down), the perepatetikes who met their customers while walking (and then worked in their houses), the gephyrides, who worked near the bridges. In the 5th century, Ateneo informs us that the price was of 1 obole, a sixth of a drachma and the equivalent of an ordinary worker's day salary. The rare pictures describe that sex was performed on beds with covers and pillows, while triclinia usually didn't have these accessories.
In ancient Rome, while there were some commonalities with the Greek system, as the Empire grew prostitutes were often foreign slaves, caught, bought, or raised for that purpose, sometimes by large-scale "prostitute farmers". Enslavement into prostitution was sometimes used as a legal punishment against criminal free women. A large brothel found in Pompeii called the Lupanar attests to the widespread use of prostitutes in Rome around the turn of the century. Life expectancy for prostitutes was generally low, but some managed to get free and establish themselves e.g. as folk doctors. Like Greece, Roman prostitution was highly categorized, with titles for prostitutes and their places of trade including:
AElicariae, Amasiae, Amatrix, Ambubiae, Amica, Blitidae, Busturiae, Casuaria, Citharistriae, Copae, Cymbalistriae, Delicatae, Diobolares, Diversorium, Doris, Famosae, Forariae, Fornix, Gallinae, Lupae, Lupanaria, Meretrix, Mimae, Noctiluae, Nonariae, Pergulae, Proseda, Prostibula, Quadrantariae, Scorta erratica, Scortum, Stabulae, Tabernae, Tugurium, and Turturilla.
During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it was held to prevent the greater evils of rape and sodomy. Augustine of Hippo held that prostitution was a necessary evil: just as a well-ordered palace needed good sewers, so a well-ordered city needed brothels. By the High Middle Ages it is common to find town governments ruling that prostitutes were not to ply their trade within the town walls, but they were tolerated outside if only because these areas were beyond the jurisdiction of the authorities. In the Languedoc region of France town governments came to set aside certain streets as areas where prostitution could be tolerated. Still later it became common in the major towns and cities of Southern Europe to establish civic brothels, whilst outlawing prostitution taking place outside these brothels. In much of Northern Europe a more laissez faire attitude tends to be found. By the very end of the fifteenth century attitudes seemed to have begun to harden against prostitution. With the advent of the Protestant Reformation numbers of Southern German towns closed their brothels in an attempt to eradicate prostitution. The prevalence of sexually transmitted disease from the earlier sixteenth century may also have influenced attitudes.
Kocek with tambourine
Recruited from the ranks of colonized ethnic groups, köçeks were cross-dressing entertainers and sex workers in the Ottoman empire. Photograph, late 19th c.
In some periods prostitutes had to distinguish themselves by particular signs, sometimes wearing very short hair or no hair at all, or wearing veils in societies where other women did not wear them. Ancient codes regulated in this case the crime of a prostitute that dissimulated her profession. In some cultures, prostitutes were the sole women allowed to sing in public or act in theatrical performances.
In the 18th century, presumably in Venice, prostitutes started using condoms, made with catgut or cow bowel.
Many of the women who posed in 19th and early 20th century vintage erotica were prostitutes. The most famous were the New Orleans women who posed for E. J. Bellocq.
In the 19th century legalized prostitution became a public controversy as France and then Britain passed the Contagious Diseases Acts, legislation mandating pelvic examinations for suspected prostitutes. Many early feminists fought for their repeal, either on the grounds that prostitution should be illegal and therefore not government regulated or because it forced degrading medical examinations upon women. This legislation applied not only to Britain and France, but also to their overseas colonies.
Originally, prostitution was widely legal in the United States. Prostitution was made illegal in almost all states between 1910 and 1915 largely due to the influence of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union which was influential in the banning of drug use and was a major force in the prohibition of alcohol. In 1917 the legally defined prostitution district Storyville in New Orleans was closed down by the Federal government over local objections. Prostitution remained legal in Alaska until 1953, and still is legal in some counties of Nevada. Beginning in the late 1980s, many states increased the penalties for prostitution in cases where the prostitute is knowingly HIV-positive. These laws, often known as felony prostitution laws, require anyone arrested for prostitution to be tested for HIV, and if the test comes back positive, the suspect is then informed that any future arrest for prostitution will be a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Penalties for felony prostitution vary in the states that have such laws, with maximum sentences of typically 10 to 15 years in prison.
In the 1970s some religious groups were discovered practicing religious prostitution as an instrument to make new adepts.
Hierodule, religious prostitution
Köçek, tellak, baccha
Sex, sexual intercourse, human sexual behavior, sexually transmitted disease
Sex industry, sex worker, professional dominant, courtesan, hetaera, geisha, rentboy, sanky-panky, call girl, Shanghai woman, Pimp/Madame, Child prostitution
Red-light district, street prostitution, prostitution in Nevada, prostitution in New Zealand, prostitution in Germany, prostitution in the Netherlands, Victorian era, Jack the Ripper, Molly house, list of famous prostitutes
Prostitution in Thailand, bar fine, Clinton Plaza, Nana Plaza, Patpong, Pattaya, Soi Cowboy
Prostitution in Germany, Atlantis (large German brothel)
Prostitution in Japan
Prostitution in the People's Republic of China
Drug addiction, sexual slavery, trafficking in human beings, debt bondage, comfort women, white slavery, sex crime, Joy Division (World War II), Recreation and Amusement Association
Feminism, sexually liberal feminism
Russell Campbell, Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema, University of Wisconsin Press 2005
John Preston : Hustling, A Gentlemen's Guide to the Fine Art of Homosexual Prostitution, Badboy Books, 1997
Néstor Osvaldo Perlongher: O negócio do michê, prostituição viril am Sao Paulo, 1.a edição 1987, editora brasiliense
The UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (1949)
Full text: Status of ratifications, reservations and declarations
External links & other resources
Worldsexguide.org – Country index of prostitution legal status (warning: explicit content)
WorldSexArchives.info – Country index with firsthand reports about prostitution throughout the world. (warning: explicit content)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) - big list of resources
Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others at Law-Ref.org - fully indexed and crosslinked with other documents
'Sex trade's reliance on forced labour - BBC
'A modern slave's brutal odyssey - BBC
'Asia's sex trade is 'slavery' - BBC
'Amnesty International UK - forced prostitution
'Amnesty International USA - Human Trafficking
‘Mine for £1,300: Ileana, the teenage sex slave ready to work in London’ – The Sunday Telegraph
Radford, Robert, La prostitution féminine à Rome, entre -200 et 200 après Jésus-Christ : une approche pédagogique utilisant les N.T.I.C.. Sherbrooke, Université de Sherbrooke, 2000.
Ine Vanwesenbeeck (2001), "Another decade of social scientific work on sex work: A review of research 1990-2000", Annual Review of Sex Research, 12, p. 242
Sexual Freedom Coalition guide to UK prostitution law
D. Brewer et. al. Prostitution and the sex discrepancy in reported number of sexual partners. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 24 October; 97(22): 1238512388.
Arabian Sex Tourism by Daniel Pipes
The English Collective of Prostitutes
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution"
Categories: Articles lacking sources | Human sexuality | Prostitution | Sex workers
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