Prostitution
Overview
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment
Payment
A payment is the transfer of wealth from one party to another. A payment is usually made in exchange for the provision of goods, services or both, or to fulfill a legal obligation....

. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of the branches of the sex industry
Sex industry
The sex industry consists of businesses which either directly or indirectly provide sex-related products and services or adult entertainment...

. The legal status of prostitution
Prostitution and the law
The laws of prostitution vary widely from country to country, and between jurisdictions within a country. Prostitution is legal in some parts of the world and regarded as a profession, while in other parts it is a crime punishable by death. In some jurisdictions prostitution is illegal...

 varies from country to country
Prostitution by country
The laws on prostitution vary considerably around the world. In some jurisdictions prostitution is illegal. In other places prostitution itself is legal, but most surrounding activities are illegal, often making it very difficult to engage in prostitution without breaking any law...

, from being a punishable crime to a regulated profession. Estimates place the annual revenue generated from the global prostitution industry to be over $100 billion.
Encyclopedia
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment
Payment
A payment is the transfer of wealth from one party to another. A payment is usually made in exchange for the provision of goods, services or both, or to fulfill a legal obligation....

. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of the branches of the sex industry
Sex industry
The sex industry consists of businesses which either directly or indirectly provide sex-related products and services or adult entertainment...

. The legal status of prostitution
Prostitution and the law
The laws of prostitution vary widely from country to country, and between jurisdictions within a country. Prostitution is legal in some parts of the world and regarded as a profession, while in other parts it is a crime punishable by death. In some jurisdictions prostitution is illegal...

 varies from country to country
Prostitution by country
The laws on prostitution vary considerably around the world. In some jurisdictions prostitution is illegal. In other places prostitution itself is legal, but most surrounding activities are illegal, often making it very difficult to engage in prostitution without breaking any law...

, from being a punishable crime to a regulated profession. Estimates place the annual revenue generated from the global prostitution industry to be over $100 billion. The most common form of prostitution involves men seeking female prostitutes.

Prostitution occurs in a variety of forms. Brothel
Brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

s are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution. In escort prostitution, the act may take 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). Another form is street prostitution. Sex tourism
Sex tourism
Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes.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...

 refers to travelling, typically from developed to under-developed nations, to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes. Sex trafficking, one type of human trafficking
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

 is defined as using coercion or force to transport an unwilling person into prostitution or other sexual exploitation.

Etymology and terminology

"Prostitute" is derived from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 prostituta. Some sources cite the verb as a composition of "pro" meaning "up front" or "forward" and "situere", defined as "to offer up for sale". Another explanation is that "prostituta" is a is a composition of pro and statuere (to cause to stand, to station, place erect). A literal translation therefore would be: "to put up front for sale" or "to place forward". The online Etymology Dictionary states, "The notion of 'sex for hire' is not inherent in the etymology, which rather suggests one 'exposed to lust' or sex 'indiscriminately offered.'"
However, another source says, "Being "up front" or being "exposed" referred to the Ancient Roman sex workers' habit of going about with their faces uncovered" which was in contrast to the general practice of women covering their faces with a "palla" (head cloth) while in public. Historically, "prostituta" was often applied to independent sex workers, those who worked in taverns, on the streets or in their own homes, as opposed to the slaves who were sold to the brothel-owners of the time's state-regulated brothels.
The word "prostitute" was then carried down through various languages to the present-day Western society. Most sex worker activists groups reject the word "prostitute" and since the late 1970's have used the term "sex worker" instead. However, a "sex worker" can also mean anyone who works within the sex industry or whose work if of a sexual nature and is not limited solely to prostitutes.
A variety of terms are used for those who engage in prostitution, some of which distinguish between different types of prostitution or imply a value judgment about them. Common alternatives for prostitute include escort
Escort agency
Escort agencies are companies that provide escorts for the agency's clients. The agency typically arranges a meeting between one of its escorts and the client at the customer's house or hotel room , or at the escort's residence . Some agencies also provide escorts for longer durations, who may stay...

 and whore; however, not all professional escorts are prostitutes.

The English word whore derives from the Old English word hōra, from the proto-Germanic kohoron (prostitute), which derives from the proto-Indo-European root kā meaning "desire", a root which has also given us the Latin caritas (love, charity) and the French cher (dear, expensive). Use of the word whore is widely considered pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

, especially in its modern slang form of ho. In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, however, most prostitutes' organizations deliberately use the word Hure (whore) since they feel that prostitute is a bureaucratic term. Those seeking to remove the social stigma associated with prostitution often promote terminology such as sex worker
Sex worker
A sex worker is a person who works in the sex industry. The term is usually used in reference to those in the sex industry that actually provide such sexual services, as opposed to management and staff of such industries...

, commercial sex worker (CSW), "tantric engineer" (coined by author Robert Anton Wilson
Robert Anton Wilson
Robert Anton Wilson , known to friends as "Bob", was an American author and polymath who became at various times a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic...

), or sex trade worker. Another commonly-used word for a prostitute is hooker. Although a popular etymology connects "hooker" with Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

, a Union general in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the word more likely comes from the concentration of prostitutes around the shipyards and ferry terminal of the Corlear's Hook area of Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 in the 1820s, who came to be referred to as "hookers". A streetwalker solicits customers on the streets or in public places, while a call girl
Call girl
A call girl or female escort is a sex worker who is not visible to the general public; nor does she usually work in an institution like a brothel, although she may be employed by an escort agency...

 makes appointments by phone.

Correctly or not, use of the word prostitute without specifying a gender may commonly be assumed to be female; compound terms such as male prostitution
Male prostitution
Male prostitution is the practice of engaging in sexual acts for money. Compared to female sex workers, male sex workers have been far less studied by researchers, and while studies suggest that there are differences between the ways these two groups look at their work, more research is needed.Male...

 or male escort are therefore often used to identify males. Those offering services to female customers are commonly known as gigolos; those offering services to male customers are hustlers or rent boys.

Organizers of prostitution may be known as pimp
Pimp
A pimp is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. The pimp may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing a location where she may engage clients...

s (if male) and madam
Madam
Madam, or madame, is a polite title used for women which, in English, is the equivalent of Mrs. or Ms., and is often found abbreviated as "ma'am", and less frequently as "ma'm". It is derived from the French madame, which means "my lady", the feminine form of lord; the plural of ma dame in this...

s or Mama-san
Mama-san
A "mama-san", or "mamasan" is usually a woman in a position of authority, especially one in charge of a geisha house or bar in Japan and East Asia....

 (if female). More formally, one who is said to practice procuring
Procuring (prostitution)
Procuring or pandering is the facilitation or provision of a prostitute in the arrangement of a sex act with a customer. Examples of procuring include:*trafficking a prostitute into a country for the purpose of soliciting sex...

 is a procurer, or procuress.

The clients of prostitutes are also known as johns or tricks in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and punters in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

. These slang terms are used among both prostitutes and law enforcement for persons who solicit prostitutes. The term john may have originated from the frequent customer practice of giving one's name as "John", a common name in English-speaking
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 countries, in an effort to maintain anonymity. In some places, men who drive around red-light district
Red-light district
A red-light district is a part of an urban area where there is a concentration of prostitution and sex-oriented businesses, such as sex shops, strip clubs, adult theaters, etc...

s for the purpose of soliciting prostitutes are also known as kerb crawler
Kerb crawler
A kerb crawler is a person who drives around areas known for street prostitution soliciting prostitutes for sex. The act is known as "kerb crawling" because the person will typically drive very slowly along the kerbside....

s.

Other meanings

The word "prostitution" can also be used metaphorically to mean debasing oneself or working towards an unworthy cause or "selling out". In this sense, "prostituting oneself" or "whoring oneself" the services or acts performed are typically not sexual. For instance, in the book, The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. Originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage confusion, angst, alienation, language, and rebellion. It has been translated into almost all of the world's major...

, Holden Caulfield
Holden Caulfield
Holden Caulfield is the 16-to-17 years old protagonist of author J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. He is universally recognized for his resistance to growing older and desire to protect childhood innocence...

 says of his brother ("D.B."): "Now he's out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me." D.B. is not literally a prostitute; Holden feels that his job writing B-movie
B-movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

 screenplays is morally debasing. Sex work researcher and writer Gail Pheterson says that this additional definition exists 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".

History

Prostitution is historically and culturally ubiquitous, with every culture adopting their own standards and attitudes. Since ancient history
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, concubines
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

 and courtiers
Courtesan
A courtesan was originally a female courtier, which means a person who attends the court of a monarch or other powerful person.In feudal society, the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together...

 often lived in the same house as the wife
Wife
A wife is a female partner in a marriage. The rights and obligations of the wife regarding her spouse and others, and her status in the community and in law, varies between cultures and has varied over time.-Origin and etymology:...

 and often had equal status and some legal rights. A mistress
Mistress (lover)
A mistress is a long-term female lover and companion who is not married to her partner; the term is used especially when her partner is married. The relationship generally is stable and at least semi-permanent; however, the couple does not live together openly. Also the relationship is usually,...

 usually maintains a separate residence provided by her keeper, has no legal rights, and the relationship is often kept secret.

Folklore

According to Zohar
Zohar
The Zohar is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah and scriptural interpretations as well as material on Mysticism, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology...

  and the Alphabet of Ben Sira, there were four angels of sacred prostitution, who mated with archangel
Archangel
An archangel is an angel of high rank. Archangels are found in a number of religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Michael and Gabriel are recognized as archangels in Judaism and by most Christians. Michael is the only archangel specifically named in the Protestant Bible...

 Samael
Samael
Samael is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is accuser, seducer and destroyer, and has been regarded as both good and evil...

. They were the queens of the demons Lilith
Lilith
Lilith is a character in Jewish mythology, found earliest in the Babylonian Talmud, who is generally thought to be related to a class of female demons Līlīṯu in Mesopotamian texts. However, Lowell K. Handy notes, "Very little information has been found relating to the Akkadian and Babylonian view...

, Naamah
Naamah (demon)
Naamah or Na'amah is a demonic legendary creature, the mother of divination. How she became a demon is unclear.- Etymology :Naamah comes from naem and means pleasant....

, Agrat Bat Mahlat
Agrat Bat Mahlat
In Zoharistic Kabbalah, Agrat Bat Mahlat is one of the four angels of sacred prostitution, who mates with archangel Samael. Her fellow succubi are Lilith, Naamah, and Eisheth Zenunim....

 and Eisheth Zenunim.

Ancient Near East

In the Ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

 along the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

  and Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

  rivers there were many shrines and temples or "houses of heaven" dedicated to various deities documented by the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 historian Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 in The Histories
Histories (Herodotus)
The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that...

 where sacred prostitution was a common practice. According to Samuel Noah Kramer
Samuel Noah Kramer
Samuel Noah Kramer was one of the world's leading Assyriologists and a world renowned expert in Sumerian history and Sumerian language.-Biography:...

 in The Sacred Marriage Rite, in late Sumerian history kings established their legitimacy by taking part in the ceremony in the temple for one night, on the tenth day of the New Year festival Akitu
Akitu
Akitu was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia....

. It came to an end when the emperor Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 in the fourth century AD destroyed the goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 temples and replaced them with Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

.

As early as the 18th century B.C., the ancient society of Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 recognized the need to protect women's property rights. In the Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating to ca. 1780 BC . It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay...

, provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes.

Greece

In ancient Greek society, prostitution was engaged in by both women and boys. The Greek word for prostitute is porne (Gr: πόρνη), derived from the verb pernemi (to sell), with the evident modern evolution. The English word pornography
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

, and its corollaries in other languages, are directly derivative of the Greek word porne (Gr: πόρνη). Female prostitutes could be independent and sometimes influential women
Woman
A woman , pl: women is a female human. The term woman is usually reserved for an adult, with the term girl being the usual term for a female child or adolescent...

. They were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes. Some similarities have been found between the Greek hetaera
Hetaera
In ancient Greece, hetaerae were courtesans, that is to say, highly educated, sophisticated companions...

 and the Japanese oiran
Oiran
were courtesans in Japan. The oiran were considered a type of "woman of pleasure" or prostitute. However, they are distinguished from the yūjo in that they were entertainers, and many became celebrities of their times outside the pleasure districts...

, complex figures that are perhaps in an intermediate position between prostitution and courtisanerie. (See also the Indian tawaif
Tawaif
A tawaif was a courtesan who catered to the nobility of South Asia, particularly during the era of the Mughal Empire.The tawaifs contributed to music, dance, theatre, film, and the Urdu literary tradition.-History:...

.) Some prostitutes in ancient Greece, such as Lais
Lais of Corinth
Lais of Corinth was a famous hetaera or courtesan of ancient Greece who was probably born in Corinth. Another hetaera with the same name was Lais of Hyccara. Since ancient authors in their -usually indirect- accounts often confuse them or do not indicate which they refer to, the two are...

 were as famous for their company as their beauty
Beauty
Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture...

, and some of these women charged extraordinary sums for their services.

Rome

In ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, a registered prostitute was called a meretrix
Meretrix
In ancient Rome, registered prostitutes were called meretrices while the unregistered ones fell under the broad category prostibulae....

 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
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, captured, purchased, or raised for that purpose, sometimes by large-scale "prostitute farmers" who took abandoned children
Child abandonment
Child abandonment is the practice of relinquishing interests and claims over one's offspring with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting them. Causes include many social and cultural factors as well as mental illness. An abandoned child is called a foundling .-Causes:Poverty is often a...

. Indeed, abandoned children were almost always raised as prostitutes. Enslavement into prostitution was sometimes used as a legal punishment against criminal free women. 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.

Asia

According to Shia Muslims, the prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 sanctioned fixed-term marriage
Nikah mut‘ah
' , is a fixed-term marriage in Shi'a Islam. The duration of this type of marriage is fixed at its inception and is then automatically dissolved upon completion of its term. The marriage is contractual and is subject to renewal...

 - muta'a in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and sigheh in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 — which has instead been used as a legitimizing cover for sex workers, in a culture where prostitution would otherwise be forbidden. Sunni Muslims, who make up the majority of Muslims worldwide, believe the practice of fixed-term marriage was abrogated and ultimately forbidden by either Muhammad, or one of his successors, Umar
Umar
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb c. 2 November , was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad's death....

. Like the Shia, Sunnis regard prostitution as sinful and forbidden.

In the early 17th century, there was widespread male and female prostitution throughout the cities of Kyoto
Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

, Edo
Edo
, also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...

, and Osaka
Osaka
is a city in the Kansai region of Japan's main island of Honshu, a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the biggest part of Keihanshin area, which is represented by three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. Oiran
Oiran
were courtesans in Japan. The oiran were considered a type of "woman of pleasure" or prostitute. However, they are distinguished from the yūjo in that they were entertainers, and many became celebrities of their times outside the pleasure districts...

 were courtesans in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 during the Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

. The oiran were considered a type of "woman of pleasure" or prostitute. Among the oiran, the tayū (太夫 or 大夫?) was considered the highest rank of courtesan available only to the wealthiest and highest ranking men. 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 1761. Although illegal in modern Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, the definition of prostitution does not extend to a "private agreement" reached between a woman and a man in a brothel
Brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

. Yoshiwara
Yoshiwara
Yoshiwara was a famous Akasen district in Edo, present-day Tōkyō, Japan.In the early 17th century, there was widespread male and female prostitution throughout the cities of Kyoto, Edo, and Osaka. To counter this, an order of Tokugawa Hidetada of the Tokugawa shogunate restricted prostitution to...

 has a large number of soapland
Soapland
A ' is a Japanglish and indicates a paradise for men in Japanese. It is said, since in Japan prostitution is officially prohibited by the government, that it is a type of brothel in Japan where male clients can engage in sexual activity with female prostitutes, although officially the clubs do...

s 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
Tawaif
A tawaif was a courtesan who catered to the nobility of South Asia, particularly during the era of the Mughal Empire.The tawaifs contributed to music, dance, theatre, film, and the Urdu literary tradition.-History:...

 was a courtesan
Courtesan
A courtesan was originally a female courtier, which means a person who attends the court of a monarch or other powerful person.In feudal society, the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together...

 who catered to the nobility of South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, particularly during the era of the Mughal Empire
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

. These courtesans would dance, sing, recite poetry and entertain their suitors at mehfil
Mehfil
A mehfil is a gathering or evening of courtly entertainment of poetry or concert of Indian classical music and dance, performed for a small audience in an intimate setting....

s. Like the geisha
Geisha
, Geiko or Geigi are traditional, female Japanese entertainers whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music and dance.-Terms:...

 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
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 literary tradition.

Middle Ages

In Renaissance Europe
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, courtiers played an extremely important role in upper-class society. It was customary for royal couples to lead separate lives — marrying simply to preserve bloodlines and to secure political alliances — men and women would often seek gratification and companionship from people living at court. In fact, the verb "to court" originally meant "to be or reside at court", and later came to mean "to behave as a courtier" and then "to pay amorous attention to somebody". The most intimate companion of a ruler was called the favourite
Favourite
A favourite , or favorite , was the intimate companion of a ruler or other important person. In medieval and Early Modern Europe, among other times and places, the term is used of individuals delegated significant political power by a ruler...

.

During the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, 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
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, prostitution was tolerated because it was held to prevent the greater evil
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

s of rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

, sodomy
Sodomy
Sodomy is an anal or other copulation-like act, especially between male persons or between a man and animal, and one who practices sodomy is a "sodomite"...

, and masturbation
Masturbation
Masturbation refers to sexual stimulation of a person's own genitals, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation can be performed manually, by use of objects or tools, or by some combination of these methods. Masturbation is a common form of autoeroticism...

 (McCall, 1979). Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 held that: "If you expel prostitution from society, you will unsettle everything on account of lusts". The general tolerance of prostitution was for the most part reluctant, and many canonists urged prostitutes to reform.

After the decline of organised prostitution of the Roman empire, many prostitutes were slaves. However, religious campaigns against slavery, and the growing marketisation of the economy, turned prostitution back into a business. By the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 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 many areas of France and Germany town governments came to set aside certain streets as areas where prostitution could be tolerated. In London the brothels of Southwark
Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

 were owned by the Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

. (McCall) Still later it became common in the major towns and cities of Southern Europe
Southern Europe
The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical...

 to establish civic brothels, whilst outlawing any prostitution taking place outside these brothels. In much of Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 a more laissez faire attitude tended to be found. Prostitutes also found a fruitful market in the Crusades. According to Jacques Rossiaud, the clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 made up about twenty percent of the clientele of private brothels and bath-houses in Dijon, France during the 14th century, and it seems the situation was similar all throughout Europe. Sixtus IV (1471–1484) was the first Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 to impose a license on brothels.

16th–17th centuries

By the end of the fifteenth century attitudes seemed to have begun to harden against prostitution. An outbreak of syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

 in Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 1494 which later swept across Europe, and which may have originated from the Columbian Exchange
Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange was a dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations , communicable disease, and ideas between the Eastern and Western hemispheres . It was one of the most significant events concerning ecology, agriculture, and culture in all of human history...

, and the prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases from the earlier sixteenth century may have been causes of this change in attitude. With the advent of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, numbers of European towns closed their brothels in an attempt to eradicate prostitution. In some periods prostitutes had to distinguish themselves by particular signs, sometimes wearing very short hair or no hair at all, or wearing veil
Veil
A veil is an article of clothing, worn almost exclusively by women, that is intended to cover some part of the head or face.One view is that as a religious item, it is intended to show honor to an object or space...

s 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.

18th century

According to Dervish
Dervish
A Dervish or Darvesh is someone treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path or "Tariqah", known for their extreme poverty and austerity, similar to mendicant friars in Christianity or Hindu/Buddhist/Jain sadhus.-Etymology:The Persian word darvīsh is of ancient origin and descends from a Proto-Iranian...

 Ismail Agha, in the Dellâkname-i Dilküşâ, the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 archives, in the Turkish baths, the masseurs were traditionally young men, who helped wash clients by soaping and scrubbing their bodies. They also worked as sex workers. The Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 texts describe who they were, their prices, how many times they could bring their customers to orgasm
Orgasm
Orgasm is the peak of the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle, characterized by an intense sensation of pleasure...

, and the details of their sexual practices.

During the British East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

's rule in India
Company rule in India
Company rule in India refers to the rule or dominion of the British East India Company on the Indian subcontinent...

 in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was initially fairly common for British soldiers to engage in inter-ethnic prostitution in India
Prostitution in India
In India, prostitution is legal only in metro cities like Mumbai but illegal in other parts of the country., but a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, keeping a brothel, pimping and pandering, are outlawed.-History:In ancient India, there was a practice of having...

, where they would frequently visit local Indian nautch
Nautch
In North India, Nautch is one of several styles of popular dance, performed by girls known as "Nautch girls". The word Nautch is an anglicized version of नाच , a word found in Hindi and Urdu , and several other languages of North India, derived from the Sanskrit, Nritya, via the Prakrit, Nachcha...

 dancers. As British females began arriving in British India in large numbers from the early to mid-19th century, it became increasingly uncommon for British soldiers to visit Indian prostitutes, and miscegenation
Miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

 was despised altogether after the events of the Indian Rebellion of 1857
Indian Rebellion of 1857
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of sepoys of the British East India Company's army on 10 May 1857, in the town of Meerut, and soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with the major hostilities confined to...

.

19th century

In the 19th century, legalized prostitution became a public controversy as France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and then the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 passed the Contagious Diseases Acts
Contagious Diseases Acts
The Contagious Diseases Acts were originally passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1864, with further alterations and editions made to it in 1866 and 1869. In 1862, a committee was established to inquire into venereal disease in the armed forces; on its recommendation the first...

, legislation mandating pelvic examinations for suspected prostitutes. This legislation applied not only to the United Kingdom and France, but also to their overseas colonies. A similar situation did in fact exist in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

; prostitutes operating out of government-sanctioned brothels were given yellow internal passports signifying their status and were subjected to weekly physical exams. Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

's novel Resurrection
Resurrection (novel)
Resurrection , first published in 1899, was the last novel written by Leo Tolstoy. The book is the last of his major long fiction works published in his lifetime . Tolstoy intended the novel as an exposition of injustice of man-made laws and the hypocrisy of institutionalized church...

 describes legal prostitution in 19th-century Russia.

20th century

The leading theorists of Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 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. The economic decline brought about by the collapse of the Soviet union led to increased prostitution in many current or former Communist countries.

Originally, prostitution was widely legal in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Prostitution was made illegal in almost all states between 1910 and 1915 largely due to the influence of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was the first mass organization among women devoted to social reform with a program that "linked the religious and the secular through concerted and far-reaching reform strategies based on applied Christianity." Originally organized on December 23, 1873, in...

 which was influential in the banning of drug use
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, usually psychoactive, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal...

 and was a major force in the prohibition
Prohibition
Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...

 of alcohol. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 wanted all prostitution ended near any military and naval base as America prepared to enter World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

In 1956, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 introduced the Sexual Offences Act 1956
Sexual Offences Act 1956
The Sexual Offences Act 1956 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that consolidated the English criminal law relating to sexual offences between 1957 and 2004. It was mostly repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which replaced it, but sections 33 to 37 still survive. The 2003 Act...

, which would partly be repealed, and altered, by the Sexual Offences Act 2003
Sexual Offences Act 2003
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland that was passed in 2003 and became law on 1 May 2004.It replaced older sexual offences laws with more specific and explicit wording...

. While this law did not criminalise the act of prostitution itself, it did prohibit such activities as running a brothel and soliciting.

Beginning in the late 1980s, many states in the US increased the penalties for prostitution in cases where the prostitute is knowingly HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

-positive. Penalties for "felony prostitution" vary, with maximum sentences of typically 10 to 15 years in prison.

Sex tourism
Sex tourism
Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes.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...

 emerged in the late 20th century as a controversial aspect of Western tourism and globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

.

Attitudes

Roughly speaking, the possible attitudes are:
  • "Prostitution should be made to disappear":
    • prohibitionism
      Prohibitionism
      Prohibitionism is a legal philosophy and political theory often used in lobbying which holds that citizens will abstain from actions if the actions are typed as unlawful and the prohibitions are enforced by law enforcement...

       (both prostitutes and clients are criminalized and are seen as immoral, they are considered criminals): the prevailing attitude nearly everywhere in the United States
      United States
      The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

      , with a few exceptions in some rural Nevada
      Nevada
      Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

       counties (see Prostitution in Nevada
      Prostitution in Nevada
      Nevada is the only U.S. state to allow some legal prostitution, in the form of regulated brothels. Prostitution outside these licensed brothels is illegal....

      ).
    • abolitionism (prostitution itself is not prohibited, but most associated activities are illegal, in an attempt to make it more difficult to engage in prostitution, prostitution is heavily discouraged and seen as a social problem): prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money) is legal, but the surrounding activities such as public solicitation
      Solicitation
      Literally, solicitation means: 'urgently asking'. It is the action or instance of soliciting; petition; proposal. In criminal law, it most commonly refers to either the act of offering goods or services, or the act of attempting to purchase such goods or services...

      , operating a brothel
      Brothel
      Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

       and other forms of pimping are prohibited, the current situation in the United Kingdom
      United Kingdom
      The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

      , France
      France
      The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

       and Canada
      Canada
      Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

       among others;
    • neo-abolitionism ("prostitution is a form of violence against women
      Violence against women
      Violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women...

      , it is a violation of human rights, the clients of the prostitutes exploit the prostitutes"): prostitutes are not prosecuted, but their clients and pimps are, which is the current situation in Sweden
      Sweden
      Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

      , Norway
      Norway
      Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

       and Iceland
      Iceland
      Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

       (in Norway the law is even more strict, forbidding also having sex with a prostitute abroad).

  • "Prostitution should be tolerated by society":
    • regulation
      Regulation
      Regulation is administrative legislation that constitutes or constrains rights and allocates responsibilities. It can be distinguished from primary legislation on the one hand and judge-made law on the other...

      : prostitution may be considered a legitimate business; prostitution and the employment of prostitutes are legal, but regulated; the current situation in the Netherlands
      Netherlands
      The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

      , Germany
      Germany
      Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

      , most of Australia
      Prostitution in Australia
      Prostitution in Australia is governed by state and territory laws, which vary considerably; and Federal legislation also has an impact on some aspects of prostitution throughout Australia, and of Australian citizens and residents outside of the country....

       and parts of Nevada
      Nevada
      Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

       (see Prostitution in Nevada
      Prostitution in Nevada
      Nevada is the only U.S. state to allow some legal prostitution, in the form of regulated brothels. Prostitution outside these licensed brothels is illegal....

      ). The degree of regulation varies very much, for example in Netherlands prostitutes are not required to undergo mandatory health checks (see Prostitution in the Netherlands
      Prostitution in the Netherlands
      Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal and regulated. Operating a brothel is also legal. In the last few years, a significant number of brothels and "windows" have been closed because of suspected criminal activity...

      ) while in Nevada
      Nevada
      Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

       the regulations are very strict (see Prostitution in Nevada
      Prostitution in Nevada
      Nevada is the only U.S. state to allow some legal prostitution, in the form of regulated brothels. Prostitution outside these licensed brothels is illegal....

      ).
    • decriminalization
      Decriminalization
      Decriminalization or Decriminalisation is the abolition of criminal penalties in relation to certain acts, perhaps retroactively, though perhaps regulated permits or fines might still apply . The reverse process is criminalization.Decriminalization reflects changing social and moral views...

      : "prostitution is labor like any other. Sex industry premises should not be subject to any special regulation or laws", the current situation in New Zealand
      New Zealand
      New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

      ; the laws against operating a brothel, pimping and street prostitution are struck down, but prostitution is hardly regulated at all. 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
COYOTE
COYOTE, or Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics, is an American sex worker activist organization. COYOTE's goals include the decriminalization of prostitution, pimping and pandering, as well as the elimination of social stigma concerning sex work as an occupation.Though it is frequently described as a...

 (an abbreviation for "Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics") and another is the North American Task Force on Prostitution. In Australia the lead sex worker rights organisation is Scarlet Alliance
Scarlet Alliance
Scarlet Alliance is the national peak sex worker organisation of Australia and was formed in 1989. Scarlet Alliance, Australian sex workers Association, through its objectives, policies and programs, aims to achieve equality, social, legal, political, cultural and economic justice for past and...

. International prostitutes' rights organizations include the International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights
International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights
The International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights emerged out of the prostitutes' rights movement starting in the mid 1970s. The ICPR adopted the World Charter for Prostitutes' Rights in 1985 in response to feminist arguments that all prostitution is forced prostitution...

 and the Network of Sex Work Projects.

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
Sex industry
The sex industry consists of businesses which either directly or indirectly provide sex-related products and services or adult entertainment...

 and the legal system.

Legality

The position of prostitution and the law varies widely worldwide, reflecting differing opinions on victimhood and exploitation
Exploitation
This article discusses the term exploitation in the meaning of using something in an unjust or cruel manner.- As unjust benefit :In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for...

, inequality
Economic inequality
Economic inequality comprises all disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. The term typically refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society, but can also refer to inequality among countries. The issue of economic inequality is related to the ideas of...

, gender roles, gender equality
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

, ethics
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 and morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, freedom of choice
Freedom of choice
For freedom of choice, see:*choice for information on theories that involve free will and human behavior.*Freedom of choice plans to integrate US schools .*Freedom of Choice, a 1980 synthpop landmark album by Devo...

, historical social norms, and social costs and benefits
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

.

Legal themes tend to address four types of issue: victimhood (including potential victimhood), ethics and morality, freedom of choice, and general benefit or harm to society (including harm arising indirectly from matters connected to prostitution).

Prostitution may be considered a form of exploitation (e.g. Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, where it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them — the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute), a legitimate occupation (e.g., Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, where prostitution is regulated as a profession) or a crime (e.g., many Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 countries, where the prostitutes face severe penalties).

The legal
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being legal and considered a profession
Profession
A profession is a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain....

 to being punishable by death. Some jurisdictions outlaw the act of prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money); other countries do not prohibit prostitution itself, but ban the activities typically associated with it (soliciting in a public place, operating a brothel, pimping etc.), making it difficult to engage in prostitution without breaking any law; while in a few countries prostitution is legal and regulated.
In 1949, 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 2009, the convention was ratified by 95 member nations including France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, and not ratified by another 97 member nations including Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

September 2011, Bonn's administration has regulated Bonn's street walkers to pay tax on a 6-euro ticket per-night basis. The ticket can be bought from a handy automatic dispenser.

Advertising

In countries where prostitution is legal, advertising it may be legal (as in the Netherlands
Prostitution in the Netherlands
Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal and regulated. Operating a brothel is also legal. In the last few years, a significant number of brothels and "windows" have been closed because of suspected criminal activity...

) or illegal (as in India
Prostitution in India
In India, prostitution is legal only in metro cities like Mumbai but illegal in other parts of the country., but a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, keeping a brothel, pimping and pandering, are outlawed.-History:In ancient India, there was a practice of having...

).
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 card
    Tart card
    Tart cards are cards placed in phone booths to advertise the services of call girls. They are most common in London but can be found elsewhere in the United Kingdom. They are typically placed in phone booths by professional "carders", who tour the phone booths, replacing cards which have been...

    s
  • by euphemistic advertisements in regular magazines and newspapers (for instance, talking of "massages" or "relaxation")
  • in specialist contact magazine
    Contact magazine
    A contact magazine is a type of classified magazine that is largely or wholly dedicated to personal ads. As well as publishing the personal ads, the publishers of contact magazines often run an anonymous mail forwarding service that allows advertisers to identify themselves only with box...

    s
  • via the internet
    World Wide Web
    The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

  • in public bathroom
    Bathroom
    A bathroom is a room for bathing in containing a bathtub and/or a shower and optionally a toilet, a sink/hand basin/wash basin and possibly also a bidet....

     stalls (i.e. "for a good time call...")


In Las Vegas
Las Vegas metropolitan area
The Las Vegas Valley is the heart of the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA also known as the Las Vegas–Paradise–Henderson MSA which includes all of Clark County, Nevada, and is a metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The Valley is defined by the Las Vegas Valley landform, a ...

 prostitution is often promoted overtly on The Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is an approximately stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada; adjacent to, but outside the city limits of Las Vegas proper. The Strip lies within the unincorporated townships of Paradise and Winchester...

 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
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

 and Clark County, see Prostitution in Nevada
Prostitution in Nevada
Nevada is the only U.S. state to allow some legal prostitution, in the form of regulated brothels. Prostitution outside these licensed brothels is illegal....

).

Exploitation in prostitution

Prostitution may sometimes be associated with illegal, abusive and dangerous activities such as human trafficking
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

, sexual slavery
Sexual slavery
Sexual slavery is when unwilling people are coerced into slavery for sexual exploitation. The incidence of sexual slavery by country has been studied and tabulated by UNESCO, with the cooperation of various international agencies...

, sexual exploitation of children
Commercial sexual exploitation of children
Commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes a form of coercion and violence against children and amounts to forced labour and a contemporary form of slavery....

, assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

, drug dealing and illegal immigration
Illegal immigration
Illegal immigration is the migration into a nation in violation of the immigration laws of that jurisdiction. Illegal immigration raises many political, economical and social issues and has become a source of major controversy in developed countries and the more successful developing countries.In...

. One view maintains that this results from prostitution being stigmatized and/or illegal. Another, however, believes that legalizing and regulating prostitution does not improve the situation, but instead makes it worse, creating a parallel illegal prostitution industry, and failing to dissociate the legal part of the sex trade from crime.

Human trafficking and sexual slavery

The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 stated in 2009 that sex trafficking is the most commonly identified form of human trafficking and estimates that about 79% of human trafficking
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

 reported is for prostitution (although the study notes that this may be the result of statistical bias and that sex trafficking tends to receive the most attention and be the most visible). Sex trafficking has been described as "the largest slave trade
Sexual slavery
Sexual slavery is when unwilling people are coerced into slavery for sexual exploitation. The incidence of sexual slavery by country has been studied and tabulated by UNESCO, with the cooperation of various international agencies...

 in history" and as the fastest growing form of contemporary slavery. It is also the fastest growing criminal industry
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

, predicted to outgrow drug trafficking
Illegal drug trade
The illegal drug trade is a global black market, dedicated to cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of those substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws. Most jurisdictions prohibit trade, except under license, of many types of drugs by drug prohibition laws.A UN report said the...

. While there may be a higher number of people involved in slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 today than at any time in history, the proportion of the population is probably the smallest in history.

“Annually, according to U.S. Government-sponsored research completed in 2006, approximately 800,000 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 2008 study, in reference to the number of people estimated to be victims of all forms of human trafficking. Due in part to the illegal and underground nature of sex trafficking, the actual extent of women and children forced into prostitution is unknown.

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. According to the International Labour Organization, the occurrence is especially common in places such as Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal and India.

Globally, forced labour generates an estimated $31billion, about half of it in the industrialised world and around one tenth in transitional countries, according to the International Labour Organization
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

 in a report on forced labour ("A global alliance against forced labour", ILO, 11 May 2005). Trafficking in people has been facilitated by factors such as porous borders and advanced communication technologies, and has become increasingly transnational in scope and highly financially lucrative.

The most common destinations for victims of human trafficking are Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and the US, according to a report by the UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime).

Major sources of trafficked persons include Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

.

Use of children

Regarding the prostitution of children
Prostitution of children
Prostitution of children or child prostitution is the commercial sexual exploitation of children in which a child performs the services of prostitution, for financial benefit. The term normally refers to prostitution by a minor, or person under the local age of majority...

 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
Age of consent
While the phrase age of consent typically does not appear in legal statutes, when used in relation to sexual activity, the age of consent is the minimum age at which a person is considered to be legally competent to consent to sexual acts. The European Union calls it the legal age for sexual...

 (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
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, the federal police say that around 1.2 million children are believed to be involved in prostitution. A CBI
Central Bureau of Investigation
The Central Bureau of Investigation is a government agency of India that serves as a criminal investigation body, national security agency and intelligence agency. It was established on 1 April 1963 and evolved from the Special Police Establishment founded in 1941...

 statement said that studies and surveys sponsored by the ministry of women and child development estimated that about 40% of all India's prostitutes are children.

Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

’s Health System Research Institute reported that children in prostitution make up 40% of prostitutes in Thailand.

Some adults travel to other countries to have access to sex with children, which is unavailable in their home country. Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 has become a notorious destination for sex with children. Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 is also a destination for child sex tourism. Several western countries have recently enacted laws with extraterritorial reach, punishing citizens who engage in sex with minors in other countries. As the crime usually goes undiscovered, these laws are rarely enforced.

Illegal immigration

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
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 - a controversial and highly debated political issue. Currently, in most of these countries most prostitutes are immigrants, mainly from Eastern and Central Europe; in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 90% of prostitutes are estimated to be migrants, in Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 78%, in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 75%, in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 73%, in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 70% (accordind to a 2009 TAMPEP
TAMPEP
TAMPEP is an international organization that supports the health and human rights of migrant sex workers in Europe. Founded in 1993 with headquarters in Amsterdam, the organization initially operated in Italy, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands...

 report, Sex Work in Europe-A mapping of the prostitution scene in 25 European countries).
An article in Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique is a monthly newspaper offering analysis and opinion on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first created mainly for a diplomatic audience as its name implies...

 in 1997 stated that 80% of prostitutes in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 were foreigners and 70% had no immigration papers.

Violence against prostitutes

Female prostitutes may be at risk of violent crime
Violent crime
A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which the offender uses or threatens to use violent force upon the victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end, such as robbery. Violent...

, as well as possibly at higher risk of occupational mortality than any other group of women ever studied.

For example, the homicide rate for female prostitutes was estimated to be 204 per 100,000 (Potterat et al., 2004), which is considerably higher than that for the next riskiest occupations in the United States during a similar period (4 per 100,000 for female liquor store workers and 29 per 100,000 for male taxicab drivers) (Castillo et al., 1994). However, there are substantial differences in rates of victimization between street prostitutes and indoor prostitutes who work as escorts, call girls, or in brothels and massage parlors. While women who work on the streets are the most likely to be victimized, attacks and even murders of prostitutes have also occurred in legal and licensed brothels (such as in the German brothel Pascha).

Types

Street

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." Servicing the customers is described as "turning tricks." The sex is usually performed in the customer's car, in a nearby alley, or in a rented room. Motels and hotels which accommodate prostitutes commonly rent rooms by the half or full hour.

In Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 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 1990s, this type of service has been steadily declining in recent years.

"Lot lizards"

A "lot lizard" is a commonly encountered special case of street prostitution. Lot lizards mainly serve those in the trucking industry
Semi-trailer truck
A semi-trailer truck, also known as a semi, tractor-trailer, or articulated truck or articulated lorry, is an articulated vehicle consisting of a towing engine , and a semi-trailer A semi-trailer truck, also known as a semi, tractor-trailer, or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) articulated truck...

 at truck stop
Truck stop
A truck stop is a commercial facility predicated on providing fuel, parking, and often food and other services to motorists and truck drivers...

s and stopping centers. 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

Brothel
Brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

s are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution, often confined to special red-light district
Red-light district
A red-light district is a part of an urban area where there is a concentration of prostitution and sex-oriented businesses, such as sex shops, strip clubs, adult theaters, etc...

s in big cities. Other names for brothels include bordello, whorehouse, cathouse, knocking shop, and general houses. Prostitution also occurs in some massage
Massage
Massage is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. The word comes from the French massage "friction of kneading", or from Arabic massa meaning "to touch, feel or handle"...

 parlours, and in Asian countries in some barber
Barber
A barber is someone whose occupation is to cut any type of hair, and to shave or trim the beards of men. The place of work of a barber is generally called a barbershop....

 shops where sexual services may be offered as a secondary function of the premises.

Escorts

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
Escort agency
Escort agencies are companies that provide escorts for the agency's clients. The agency typically arranges a meeting between one of its escorts and the client at the customer's house or hotel room , or at the escort's residence . Some agencies also provide escorts for longer durations, who may stay...

. Services may be advertised over the Internet, in regional publications, or in local telephone listings.

Use of the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 by prostitutes and customers is common. A prostitute may use adult boards or create a website of their own with contact details, such as email addresses. Adult contact sites, chats and on-line communities are also used. In many parts of the developed world, the Internet is one of the main ways in which buyers find and contact prostitutes. This, in turn, has brought increased scrutiny from law enforcement, public officials, and activist groups toward online prostitution. In 2009, Craigslist
Craigslist
Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities featuring free online classified advertisements, with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums....

 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. Craigslist has since altered its policies to make it more difficult for prostitutes to advertise anonymously, but still allows the advertising of sexual services, which critics contend includes illegal prostitution.

Reviews of the services of individual prostitutes often can 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. However, many other prostitutes are critical of such sites, as threats of a negative review are sometimes used by clients used to extort extra services or unsafe sex from sex workers. Sex workers, in turn, often use online forums of their own to exchange information on clients, particularly to warn others about dangerous clients. Participants in these forums also exchange information on law enforcement activity, working conditions, and other matters important to sex workers.

Sex tourism

Sex tourism
Sex tourism
Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes.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...

 is travel for sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

 with prostitutes or to engage in other sexual activity. The World Tourism Organization
World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization , based in Madrid, Spain, is a United Nations agency dealing with questions relating to tourism. It compiles the World Tourism rankings. The World Tourism Organization is a significant global body, concerned with the collection and collation of statistical information...

, a specialized agency of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 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
Child sex tourism is tourism for the purpose of engaging in the prostitution of children, that is commercially-facilitated child sexual abuse...

". As opposed to regular sex tourism, which is often legal, a tourist who has sex with a child prostitute
Prostitution of children
Prostitution of children or child prostitution is the commercial sexual exploitation of children in which a child performs the services of prostitution, for financial benefit. The term normally refers to prostitution by a minor, or person under the local age of majority...

 will usually be committing a crime in the host country, under the laws of his own country (notwithstanding him being outside of it) and against international law. Child sex tourism (CST) is defined as a travel to a foreign country for the purpose of engaging in commercially facilitated child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities , indecent exposure with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to...

. The term "child" is often used as defined by international law and refers to any person below the age of consent
Age of consent
While the phrase age of consent typically does not appear in legal statutes, when used in relation to sexual activity, the age of consent is the minimum age at which a person is considered to be legally competent to consent to sexual acts. The European Union calls it the legal age for sexual...

. Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 have been identified as leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation.

Occurrence

According to the paper "Estimating the prevalence and career longevity of prostitute women" (Potterat et al., 1990), 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 length of these prostitutes' working careers was estimated at a mean of 5 years.

In 2003 it was estimated that in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, one woman in 35 was working as a prostitute, compared to one in 300 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, a 2004 TNS poll reported 15% of all men admitted to having paid for sex at least once in their life. However, a paper entitled "Prostitution and the sex discrepancy in reported number of sexual partners" (Brewer et al., 2000) made the conclusion that men's self-reporting of prostitutes as sexual partners is seriously under-reported.

In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, a survey conducted in the early 2000s, showed that 15.6% of men aged 16–59 reported paying for sex at least once in their life, and 1.9% had done so in the past year.

A number of reports over the last few decades have suggested that prostitution levels have fallen in sexually liberal countries, most likely because of the increased availability of non-commercial, non-marital sex.

Prostitutes have long plied their trades to the military in many cultures. For example, the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 naval port of Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 had a flourishing local sex industry in the 19th century, and until the early 1990s there were large red light district
Red Light District
Red Light District may refer to:* Red-light district - a neighborhood where prostitution is common* The Red Light District - the title of the 2004 album by rapper Ludacris* Red Light District Video - a pornography studio based in Los Angeles, California...

s near American military bases in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. The notorious Patpong
Patpong
Patpong is an entertainment district in Bangkok, Thailand, catering mainly, though not exclusively, to foreign tourists and expatriates. While Patpong is internationally known as a red light district at the heart of Bangkok's sex industry, it is in fact only one of numerous red-light districts...

 entertainment district in Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

, Thailand, started as an R&R
R&R (military)
R&R, military slang for rest and recuperation , is a term used for the free time of a soldier in the US military or International UN staff serving in non-family duty stations. R&R includes various forms, including mail, sports, film screenings, using the services of prostitutes and leave time...

 location for US troops serving in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 in the early 1970s.

Medical situation

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
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 in Asia: "One of the main reasons for the rapid spread of HIV in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n countries is the massive transmission among sex workers and clients". As a result, prevention campaigns aimed at increasing condom use by sex workers have been attributed to play a major role in restricting the spread of HIV.

One of the sources for the spread of HIV in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 is prostitution, with one study finding that encounters with prostitutes produced 84% of new HIV infections in adult males in Accra, Ghana. The spread of HIV from urban settings to rural areas in Africa has been attributed to the mobility of farmers who visit sex workers in cities, for example in Ethiopia.
Some studies of prostitution in urban settings in developing countries, such as Kenya, have stated that prostitution acts as a reservoir of STDs within the general population.

Typical responses to the problem are:
  • banning prostitution completely.
  • introducing a system of registration
    Licensure
    Licensure refers to the granting of a license, which gives a "permission to practice." Such licenses are usually issued in order to regulate some activity that is deemed to be dangerous or a threat to the person or the public or which involves a high level of specialized skill...

     for prostitutes that mandates health checks and other public health measures.
  • educating prostitutes and their clients to encourage the use of barrier contraception
    Barrier contraception
    Barrier contraception methods prevent pregnancy by physically preventing sperm from entering the uterus.-History:The earliest recorded barrier methods are those of stem pessaries, found in Egypt. The diaphragm and reusable condoms became common after the invention of rubber vulcanization in the...

     and greater interaction with health care.


Some think that the first two measures are counter-productive. Banning prostitution tends to drive it underground, making safe sex promotion, 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
Harm reduction
Harm reduction refers to a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with recreational drug use and other high risk activities...

 policies.

In countries and areas where safer sex precautions are either unavailable or not practiced for cultural reasons, prostitution is an active disease vector for all STDs, including HIV/AIDS
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

, but the encouragement of safer sex practices, combined with regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases, has been very successful when applied consistently. As an example, Thailand's condom program has been largely responsible for the country's progress against the HIV epidemic. It has been estimated that successful implementation of safe sex practices in India "would drive the [HIV] epidemic to extinction" while similar measures could achieve a 50% reduction in Botswana.

See also

  • Call girl
    Call girl
    A call girl or female escort is a sex worker who is not visible to the general public; nor does she usually work in an institution like a brothel, although she may be employed by an escort agency...

  • Fallen woman
    Fallen woman
    The term fallen woman was used to described a woman who has "lost her innocence", that is, fallen from the grace of God. In 19th century Britain especially, the meaning came to be closely associated with the loss or surrender of a woman's chastity...

  • Feminist views on prostitution
    Feminist views on prostitution
    As with many issues within the feminist movement, there exists a diversity of opinions regarding prostitution. Many of these positions can be loosely arranged into an overarching standpoint that is generally either critical or supportive of prostitution and sex work...

  • International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
    International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
    International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is observed annually on 17 December by Sex workers, their advocates, friends, families and allies....

  • Male prostitute
  • Pornography
    Pornography
    Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

  • Prostitution and the law
    Prostitution and the law
    The laws of prostitution vary widely from country to country, and between jurisdictions within a country. Prostitution is legal in some parts of the world and regarded as a profession, while in other parts it is a crime punishable by death. In some jurisdictions prostitution is illegal...

  • Category:Prostitution by country
  • Recreation and Amusement Association
    Recreation and Amusement Association
    The , or more literally Special Comfort Facility Association, was the official euphemism for the prostitution centers arranged for occupying U.S...

  • Sacred prostitution
  • Sanky-panky
    Sanky-panky
    A Sanky-panky, or Sanky, is a male sex worker, found in the Caribbean. A sanky-panky solicits on beaches and has clients of both sexes or only women. When with men, the sanky-panky assumes an active A Sanky-panky, or Sanky, is a male sex worker, found in the Caribbean. A sanky-panky solicits on...

  • Sex industry
    Sex industry
    The sex industry consists of businesses which either directly or indirectly provide sex-related products and services or adult entertainment...

  • Sex worker
    Sex worker
    A sex worker is a person who works in the sex industry. The term is usually used in reference to those in the sex industry that actually provide such sexual services, as opposed to management and staff of such industries...

  • Category:Sex worker activists
  • Sex workers' rights
  • Top (BDSM)
    Top (BDSM)
    In BDSM, a top or dominant is the partner in a BDSM relationship or in a BDSM scene who takes the active or controlling role over that of the bottom or submissive partner....


Further reading

  • Campbell, Russell. Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema, 2005 University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Keire, Mara L. For Business and Pleasure: Red-Light Districts and the Regulation of Vice in the United States, 1890-1933 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010); 248 pages; History and popular culture of districts in such cities as New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, El Paso, Hartford, Conn., and Macon, Ga.
  • Michael, R. T., Gagnon, J. H.,.Laumann, E. O., & Kolata, G. Sex in America, Boston: Little, Brown, 1994.
  • Mirbeau, Octave, The love of a venal woman
  • Phoenix, J. Making Sense of Prostitution, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001.
  • Preston, John. Hustling, A Gentlemen's Guide to the Fine Art of Homosexual Prostitution, Badboy Books, 1997.
  • Perlongher, Néstor Osvaldo. O negócio do michê, prostituição viril em São Paulo, 1ª 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)


External links


News

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