In , a Russian caricature depicted the Baltic states as three "ladies of the night", "vying for the attentions of Uncle Sam, since the Russian client has run out of money".
Usage of the "political prostitute" moniker is by no means unique to Russian political lexicon, such as when a Huffington Post contributor expressed the opinion that Donald J. Trump was "prostituting himself to feed his ego and gain power" when he ran for President of the United States.
Sex work researcher and writer Gail Pheterson writes that these metaphorical usages exist because "the term "prostitute" gradually took on a Christian moralist tradition, as being synonymous with debasement of oneself or of others for the purpose of ill-gotten gains". In the Ancient Near East along the Tigris—Euphrates river system there were many shrines and temples or "houses of heaven" dedicated to various deities documented by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in The Histories  where sacred prostitution was a common practice.
As early as the 18th century BC, ancient Mesopotamia recognized the need to protect women's property rights. In the Code of Hammurabi , provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes. According to Zohar and the Alphabet of Ben Sira , there were four angels of sacred prostitution , who mated with archangel Samael.
Both women and boys engaged in prostitution in ancient Greece. They were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes. Some similarities have been found between the Greek hetaera , the Japanese oiran , and 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. Prostitution in ancient Rome was legal, public, and widespread. A registered prostitute was called a meretrix while the unregistered one fell under the broad category prostibulae. There were some commonalities with the Greek system, but as the Empire grew, prostitutes were often foreign slaves , captured, purchased, or raised for that purpose, sometimes by large-scale "prostitute farmers" who took abandoned children.
Indeed, abandoned children were almost always raised as prostitutes. Buyers were allowed to inspect naked men and women for sale in private and there was no stigma attached to the purchase of males by a male aristocrat.
According to Shia Muslims, Muhammad sanctioned fixed-term marriage — muta'a in Iraq and sigheh in Iran — which has instead been used as a legitimizing cover for sex workers, in a culture where prostitution is otherwise forbidden. Sunnis regard prostitution as sinful and forbidden. In the early 17th century, there was widespread male and female prostitution throughout the cities of Kyoto , Edo , and Osaka , Japan.
Oiran were courtesans in Japan during the Edo period. To entertain their clients, oiran practiced the arts of dance, music, poetry, and calligraphy as well as sexual services, and an educated wit was considered essential for sophisticated conversation.
Many became celebrities of their times outside the pleasure districts. Their art and fashions often set trends among wealthy women. The last recorded oiran was in Although illegal in modern Japan, the definition of prostitution does not extend to a "private agreement" reached between a woman and a man in a brothel.
Yoshiwara has a large number of soaplands that began when explicit prostitution in Japan became illegal, where women washed men's bodies. They were originally known as toruko-buro, meaning Turkish bath. A tawaif was a courtesan who catered to the nobility of South Asia, particularly during the era of the Mughal Empire. These courtesans danced, sang, recited poetry and entertained their suitors at mehfils.
Like the geisha tradition in Japan, their main purpose was to professionally entertain their guests, and while sex was often incidental, it was not assured contractually. High-class or the most popular tawaifs could often pick and choose between the best of their suitors. They contributed to music, dance, theatre, film, and the Urdu literary tradition. Throughout the Middle Ages the definition of a prostitute has been ambiguous, with various secular and canonical organizations defining prostitution in constantly evolving terms.
Even though medieval secular authorities created legislation to deal with the phenomenon of prostitution, they rarely attempted to define what a prostitute was because it was deemed unnecessary "to specify exactly who fell into that [specific] category" of a prostitute. Women usually alternated their career of prostitution with "petty retailing, and victualing," or only occasionally turning to prostitution in times of great financial need.
With the establishment of prostitution men were less likely to collectively rape honest women of marriageable and re-marriageable age. Augustine 's claim that "the removal of the institution would bring lust into all aspects of the world. In urban societies there was an erroneous view that prostitution was flourishing more in rural regions rather than in cities, however it has been proven that prostitution was more rampant in cities and large towns. Cities tended to draw more prostitutes due to the sheer size of the population and the institutionalization of prostitution in urban areas which made it more rampant in metropolitan regions.
Sumptuary laws became the regulatory norm for prostitutes and included making courtesans "wear a shoulder-knot of a particular color as a badge of their calling" to be able to easily distinguish the prostitute from a respectable woman in society. Although brothels were still present in most cities and urban centers, and could range from private bordelages run by a procuress from her home to public baths and centers established by municipal legislation, the only centers for prostitution legally allowed were the institutionalized and publicly funded brothels.
Furthermore, brothels theoretically banned the patronage of married men and clergy also, but it was sporadically enforced and there is evidence of clergymen present in brawls that were documented in brothels.
Brothels also settled the "obsessive fear of the sharing of women" and solved the issue of "collective security. For example, the law that "forbid brothel keepers [from] beat[ing] them. Courts showed the conflicting views on the role of prostitutes in secular law as prostitutes could not inherit property, defend themselves in court, or make accusations in court. By the end of the 15th century attitudes seemed to have begun to harden against prostitution.
An outbreak of syphilis in Naples which later swept across Europe, and which may have originated from the Columbian Exchange ,  and the prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases from the earlier 16th century may have been causes of this change in attitude. By the early 16th century the association between prostitutes, plague, and contagion emerged, causing brothels and prostitution to be outlawed by secular authority.
The Church's stance on prostitution was three-fold: The Church used Mary Magdalene's biblical history of being a reformed harlot to encourage prostitutes to repent and mend their ways. With the advent of the Protestant Reformation , numbers of Southern German towns closed their brothels in an attempt to eradicate prostitution. 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.
They also worked as sex workers. During the British East India Company 's rule in India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was initially fairly common for British soldiers to engage in inter-ethnic prostitution in India , where they frequently visited local Indian nautch dancers. In the 19th century, legalized prostitution became a public controversy as France and then the United Kingdom passed the Contagious Diseases Acts , legislation mandating pelvic examinations for suspected prostitutes.
This legislation applied not only to the United Kingdom and France, but also to their overseas colonies. France, instead of trying to outlaw prostitution began to view prostitution as an evil necessary for society to function. France chose to regulate prostitution, introducing a Morals Brigade onto the streets of Paris.
A major work, Prostitution, Considered in Its Moral, Social, and Sanitary Aspects , was published by William Acton in , which estimated that the County of London had 80, prostitutes and that 1 house in 60 was serving as a brothel. During this period, prostitution was also very prominent in the Barbary Coast, San Francisco as the population was mainly men, due to the influx from the Gold Rush.
The leading theorists of Communism opposed prostitution. Communist governments often attempted to repress the practice immediately after obtaining power, although it always persisted.
In contemporary Communist countries, it remains illegal but is nonetheless common. Originally, prostitution was widely legal in the United States. Prostitution was made illegal in almost all states between and largely due to the influence of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. On the other hand, prostitution generated much national revenue in South Korea, hence the military government encouraged prostitution for the U. While this law did not criminalise the act of prostitution in the United Kingdom itself, it prohibited such activities as running a brothel.
Soliciting was made illegal by the Street Offences Act Beginning in the late s, many states in the US increased the penalties for prostitution in cases where the prostitute is knowingly HIV-positive.
Penalties for felony prostitution vary, with maximum sentences of typically 10 to 15 years in prison. Sex tourism emerged in the late 20th century as a controversial aspect of Western tourism and globalization. In the 21st century, Afghans revived a method of prostituting young boys which is referred to as " bacha bazi ". Since the break up of the Soviet Union , thousands of eastern European women end up as prostitutes in China, Western Europe, Israel, and Turkey every year; some enter the profession willingly, but many are tricked, coerced, or kidnapped, and often experience captivity and violence.
India's devadasi girls are forced by their poor families to dedicate themselves to the Hindu goddess Renuka. The BBC wrote in that devadasis are "sanctified prostitutes". Historically , and currently, church prostitutes exist, and the practice may be legal or illegal, depending on the country, state or province. Prostitutes' salaries and payments fluctuate according to the economic conditions of their respective countries. Prostitutes who usually have foreign clients, such as business travelers, depend on good foreign economic conditions.
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. 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.
Prostitution is a significant issue in feminist thought and activism. Many feminists are opposed to prostitution, which they see as a form of exploitation of women and male dominance over women, and as a practice which is the result of the existing patriarchal societal order. These feminists argue that prostitution has a very negative effect, both on the prostitutes themselves and on society as a whole, as it reinforces stereotypical views about women, who are seen as sex objects which can be used and abused by men.
Other feminists hold that prostitution can be a valid choice for the women who choose to engage in it; in this view, prostitution must be differentiated from forced prostitution , and feminists should support sex worker activism against abuses by both the sex industry and the legal system. In February , the members of the European Parliament voted in a non-binding resolution, adopted by votes to ; with abstentions , in favor of the 'Swedish Model' of criminalizing the buying, but not the selling of sex.
The position of prostitution and the law varies widely worldwide, reflecting differing opinions on victimhood and exploitation , inequality , gender roles , gender equality , ethics and morality , freedom of choice , historical social norms , and social costs and benefits.
Legal themes tend to address four types of issue: Prostitution may be considered a form of exploitation e. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being legal and considered a profession to being punishable by death. In , the UN General Assembly adopted a convention stating that "prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person",  requiring all signing parties to punish pimps and brothel owners and operators and to abolish all special treatment or registration of prostitutes.
As of January , the convention was ratified by 95 member nations including France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and not ratified by another 97 member nations including Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. In countries where prostitution is legal, advertising it may be legal as in the Netherlands or illegal as in India.
Covert advertising for prostitution can take a number of forms:. In the United States, massage parlors serving as a cover for prostitution may advertise "full service", a euphemism for coitus.
In Las Vegas , prostitution is often promoted overtly on the Las Vegas Strip by third party workers distributing risque flyers with the pictures and phone numbers of escorts despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas and Clark County , see Prostitution in Nevada. The way in which prostitutes advertise their presence varies widely. Some remain in apartments which have hints or clues outside such as posters with "model" written on them to lure potential customers inside.
Others advertise by putting numbers or location in phoneboxes or in online or newspaper ads. In more sexually permissive societies, prostitutes can advertise in public view, such as through display windows.
In sexually restrictive societies it may occur through word-of-mouth and other means. A difficulty facing migrant prostitutes in many developed countries is the illegal residence status of some of these women. They face potential deportation, and so do not have recourse to the law. Hence there are brothels that may not adhere to the usual legal standards intended to safeguard public health and the safety of the workers.
The immigration status of the persons who sell sexual services is — particularly in Western Europe — a controversial and highly debated political issue. Survival sex is when the prostitute is driven to prostitution by a need for basic necessities such as food or shelter. This type of prostitution is common among the homeless and in refugee camps. The term is used in the sex trade and by aid workers , although some practitioners do not regard the act as exploitative. 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, the same act is punishable as sex with an underage person.
In India, the federal police say that around 1. In Bangladesh, child prostitutes are known to take the drug Oradexon, also known as dexamethasone. This over-the-counter steroid , usually used by farmers to fatten cattle, makes child prostitutes look larger and older. According to social activists, the steroid can cause diabetes , high blood pressure and is highly addictive.
Some adults travel to other countries to have access to sex with children, which is unavailable in their home country. Cambodia has become a notorious destination for sex with children. As the crime usually goes undiscovered, these laws are rarely enforced. Prostitution among the elderly is a phenomenon reported in South Korea where elderly people turn to prostitution to pay their bills.
This problem comes about because the state does not provide enough income for necessities. Clients in Korea tend also to be elderly. Street prostitutes are at higher risk of violent crime than brothel prostitutes and bar prostitutes. In the United States, the homicide rate for female prostitutes was estimated to be per , Prostitution may sometimes be associated with illegal, abusive, and dangerous activities.
One view maintains that this results from prostitution being stigmatized or illegal, or both. Sex trafficking is defined as using coercion or force to transport an unwilling person into prostitution or other sexual exploitation. Government-sponsored research completed in , approximately , people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries.
Approximately 80 percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors," estimated the US Department of State in a study, in reference to the number of people estimated to be victims of all forms of human trafficking. Children are sold into the global sex trade every year.
Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are sold by their own families. In street prostitution, the prostitute solicits customers while waiting at street corners, sometimes called "the track" by pimps and prostitutes alike. They usually dress in skimpy, provocative clothing, regardless of the weather. Street prostitutes are often called "streetwalkers" while their customers are referred to as "tricks" or "johns. Motels and hotels that accommodate prostitutes commonly rent rooms by the half or full hour.
In Russia and other countries of the former USSR , prostitution takes the form of an open-air 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.
Prevalent in the late s, this type of service has been steadily declining in recent years. A "lot lizard" is a commonly encountered special case of street prostitution.
Prostitutes will often proposition truckers using a CB radio from a 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.
Brothels are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution, often confined to special red-light districts in big cities. Other names for brothels include bordello , whorehouse , cathouse , knocking shop , and general houses. Prostitution also occurs in some massage parlours , and in Asian countries in some barber shops where sexual services may be offered as a secondary function of the premises.
Escort services may be distinguished from prostitution or other forms of prostitution in that sexual activities are often not explicitly advertised as necessarily included in these services; rather, payment is often noted as being for an escort's time and companionship only, although there is often an implicit assumption that sexual activities are expected.
In escort prostitution, the act takes place at the customer's residence or hotel room referred to as out-call , or at the escort's residence or in a hotel room rented for the occasion by the escort called in-call.
The prostitute may be independent or working under the auspices of an escort agency. Services may be advertised over the Internet, in regional publications, or in local telephone listings.
Use of the Internet by prostitutes and customers is common. Adult contact sites, chats and on-line communities are also used.
This, in turn, has brought increased scrutiny from law enforcement, public officials, and activist groups toward online prostitution. In , Craigslist came under fire for its role in facilitating online prostitution, and was sued by some 40 US state attorneys general, local prosecutors, and law enforcement officials.
Reviews of the services of individual prostitutes can often be found at various escort review boards worldwide. These online forums are used to trade information between potential clients, and also by prostitutes to advertise the various services available. Sex workers, in turn, often use online forums of their own to exchange information on clients, particularly to warn others about dangerous clients.
Sex tourism is travel for sexual intercourse with prostitutes or to engage in other sexual activity. The World Tourism Organization , a specialized agency of the United Nations defines sex tourism as "trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination".
Often the term "sex tourism" is mistakenly interchanged with the term " child sex tourism ". Child sex tourism CST is defined as a travel to a foreign country for the purpose of engaging in commercially facilitated child sexual abuse. Virtual sex , that is, sexual acts conveyed by messages rather than physically, is also the subject of commercial transactions. Commercial phone sex services have been available for decades. The advent of the Internet has made other forms of virtual sex available for money, including computer-mediated cybersex , in which sexual services are provided in text form by way of chat rooms or instant messaging , or audiovisually through a webcam see camgirl.
According to the paper "Estimating the prevalence and career longevity of prostitute women" Potterat et al. The length of these prostitutes' working careers was estimated at a mean of 5 years. According to a report by Fondation Scelles there are between 40 and 42 million prostitutes in the world.
In , it was estimated that in Amsterdam , one woman in 35 was working as a prostitute, compared to one in in London. In Australia, a survey conducted in the early s showed that Reports disagree on whether prostitution levels are growing or declining in developed countries. Some studies indicate that the percentage of men engaging in commercial sex in the United States has declined significantly in recent decades: As Norma Ramos, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women says "The more the commercial sex industry normalizes this behavior, the more of this behavior you get".
Prostitutes have long plied their trades to the military in many cultures. For example, the British naval port of Portsmouth had a flourishing local sex industry in the 19th century, and until the early s there were large red-light districts near American military bases in the Philippines.
The village of Vadia , India is known locally as the village of prostitutes , where unmarried women are involved in prostitution. Mass weddings for children of prostitutes in the village are held to protect them from being pushed into prostitution. In some places, prostitution may be associated with the spread of sexually transmitted diseases STDs. Lack of condom use among prostitutes and their clients has been cited as a factor in the spread of HIV in Asia: Some think that the first two measures are counter-productive.
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