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Prostitution
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The oldest profession" redirects here. For the 1967 French film, see The Oldest Profession. For the origin of the phrase "oldest profession", see Oldest profession (phrase).
"Prostitute", "Whore", and "Harlot" redirect here. For other uses, see Prostitute (disambiguation), Whore (disambiguation), and Harlot (disambiguation).
Prostitution
Toulouse-Lautrec Prostitutes DMA.jpg
Femmes de Maison, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, c. 1893–95
Occupation
Names Women: whore, hooker, call girl, business girl (B-girl), streetwalker, trollop, strumpet, courtesan, escort, lady of the evening, woman of the night, working girl, doxy, scarlet woman, harlot, drab
Men: Rent boy, male escort, gigolo, lad model, gent of the night, sporting boy, weeping willy
Female clients: janes,[1][2] sugar mamas[3]
Male clients: johns, punters, tricks, mongers, sex buyers
Activity sectors
Sex industry
Description
Competencies Physical attractiveness, seduction skills, interpersonal skills.
Male prostitutes usually require an ability to maintain an erection.
Related jobs
Stripper, porn actor

Prostitution is the business or practice of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for payment.[4][5] Prostitution is sometimes described as sexual services, commercial sex or, colloquially, hooking. Prostitution occurs in a variety of forms. Brothels are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution. In escort prostitution, the act may take place at the client's residence or hotel room (referred to as out-call), or at the escort's residence or a hotel room rented for the occasion by the escort (in-call). Another form is street prostitution. Although the majority of prostitutes are female and have male clients, a prostitute can be, and have clients, of any gender or sexual orientation.

Depending on the jurisdiction, prostitution law may deem commercial sex to be legal or illegal. A person who works in this field is called a prostitute, and is a type of sex worker. Prostitution is one branch of the sex industry, along with pornography, stripping, and erotic dancing. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country (sometimes from region to region within a given country), ranging from being permissible but unregulated, to an enforced or unenforced crime, or a regulated profession. It is sometimes referred to euphemistically as "the world's oldest profession" in the English-speaking world.[6][7] Estimates place the annual revenue generated by prostitution worldwide to be over $100 billion.[8]

There are about 42 million prostitutes in the world, living all over the world (though most of Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa lacks data, studied countries in that large region rank as top sex tourism destinations).[9] Sex tourism refers to the practice of traveling to engage in sexual relations with prostitutes in other countries. Some rich clients may pay for long-term contracts that may last for years.[10][11]

Some view prostitution as a form of exploitation of or violence against women,[12] and children,[13] that helps to create a supply of victims for human trafficking.[14] Some critics of prostitution as an institution are supporters of the Swedish approach, which decriminalizes the act of selling sex, but makes the purchase of sex illegal. This approach has also been adopted by Canada, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland,[15] Northern Ireland, Norway, and France.


Prostitute c.1890
Prostitute is derived from the Latin prostituta. Some sources cite the verb as a composition of "pro" meaning "up front" or "forward" and "stituere", defined as "to offer up for sale".[16] Another explanation is that prostituta is a composition of pro and statuere (to cause to stand, to station, place erect). A literal translation therefore is: "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.'"[17][18]

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 1970s have used the term sex worker instead. However, sex worker can also mean anyone who works within the sex industry or whose work is of a sexual nature and is not limited solely to prostitutes.[19][20]


The Procuress by Dirck van Baburen (1622)
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 and whore; however, not all professional escorts are prostitutes.

The English word whore derives from the Old English word hōra, from the Proto-Germanic *hōrōn (prostitute), which derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *keh₂- meaning "desire", a root which has also given us Latin cārus (dear), whence the French cher (dear, expensive) and the Latin cāritās (love, charity). Use of the word whore is widely considered pejorative, especially in its modern slang form of ho. In Germany, 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, commercial sex worker (CSW) or sex trade worker. Another commonly used word for a prostitute is hooker. Although a popular etymology connects "hooker" with Joseph Hooker, a Union general in the American Civil War, the word more likely comes from the concentration of prostitutes around the shipyards and ferry terminal of the Corlear's Hook area of Manhattan in the 1820s, who came to be referred to as "hookers".[21] A streetwalker solicits customers on the streets or in public places, while a call girl makes appointments by phone, or in recent years, through email or the internet.

Correctly or not, use of the word prostitute without specifying a sex may commonly be assumed to be female; compound terms such as male prostitution 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.

Procuring
Main article: Procuring (prostitution)
Organizers of prostitution may be known as pimps (if male) and madams or Mama-san (if female). More formally, one who is said to practice procuring is a procurer, or procuress.

Clients
"Mongering" redirects here. For those who monger, see Monger (disambiguation).
Clients of prostitutes, most often men by prevalence, are sometimes known as johns or tricks in North America and punters in the British Isles. These slang terms are used among both prostitutes and law enforcement for persons who solicit prostitutes.[22] The term john may have originated from the frequent customer practice of giving one's name as "John", a common name in English-speaking countries, in an effort to maintain anonymity. In some places, men who drive around red-light districts for the purpose of soliciting prostitutes are also known as kerb crawlers.

Female clients of prostitutes are sometimes referred to as janes or sugar mamas.[1][2][3]

Other meanings
The word "prostitution" can also be used metaphorically to mean debasing oneself or working towards an unworthy cause or "selling out".[23] 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, Holden Caulfield 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 screenplays is morally debasing.

The prostitution metaphor, "traditionally used to signify political inconstancy, unreliability, fickleness, a lack of firm values and integrity, and venality, has long been a staple of Russian political rhetoric."[24] One of the famous insults of Leon Trotsky made by Vladimir Lenin was calling him a "political prostitute".[24] Leon Trotsky used this epithet himself, calling German Social Democracy, at that time "corrupted by Kautskianism", a "political prostitution disguised by theories".[25] In 1938, he used the same description for the Comintern, saying that the chief aim of the Bonapartist clique of Stalin during the preceding several years "has consisted in proving to the imperialist 'democracies' its wise conservatism and love for order. For the sake of the longed alliance with imperialist democracies [Stalin] has brought the Comintern to the last stages of political prostitution."[26]

Besides targeting political figures, the term is used in relation to organizations and even small countries, which "have no choice but to sell themselves", because their voice in world affairs is insignificant. In 2007, a Russian caricature depicted the Baltic states as three "ladies of the night", "vying for the attentions of Uncle Sam, since the Russian client has run out of money".[24]

Usage of the "political prostitute" moniker is by no means unique to Russian political lexicon, such as when a Huffington Post contributor expressed the opinion that Donald J. Trump was "prostituting himself to feed his ego and gain power" when he ran for President of the United States.[27]

Sex work researcher and writer Gail Pheterson writes that these metaphorical usages exist because "the term "prostitute" gradually took on a Christian moralist tradition, as being synonymous with debasement of oneself or of others for the purpose of ill-gotten gains".[28]

History
Main article: History of prostitution
Ancient Near East

Customer and a prostitute illustrated on an ancient Greek wine cup; an act of prostitution is indicated by the coin purse above the figures
In the Ancient Near East along the Tigris–Euphrates river system there were many shrines and temples or "houses of heaven" dedicated to various deities documented by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in The Histories[29] where sacred prostitution was a common practice.[30] It came to an end when the emperor Constantine in the fourth century AD destroyed the goddess temples and replaced them with Christianity.[31]

As early as the 18th century BC, ancient Mesopotamia recognized the need to protect women's property rights. In the Code of Hammurabi, provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes.[32]

Ancient Hebrew culture
According to Zohar and the Alphabet of Ben Sira, there were four angels of sacred prostitution, who mated with archangel Samael. They were the queens of the demons Lilith, Naamah, Agrat Bat Mahlat and Eisheth Zenunim.[2]

Ancient Greece
Both women and boys engaged in prostitution in ancient Greece.[33] Female prostitutes could be independent and sometimes influential women. They were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes. Some similarities have been found between the Greek hetaera, the Japanese oiran, and also the Indian tawaif. Some prostitutes in ancient Greece, such as Lais were as famous for their company as their beauty, and some of these women charged extraordinary sums for their services.

Ancient Rome

Fresco from the Pompeii brothel
Prostitution in ancient Rome was legal, public, and widespread. A registered prostitute was called a meretrix while the unregistered one fell under the broad category prostibulae. There were some commonalities with the Greek system, but as the Empire grew, prostitutes were often foreign slaves, captured, purchased, or raised for that purpose, sometimes by large-scale "prostitute farmers" who took abandoned children. Indeed, abandoned children were almost always raised as prostitutes.[34] 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.


An oiran preparing herself for a client, ukiyo-e print by Suzuki Haronubu (1765)
Asia
According to Shia Muslims, Muhammad sanctioned fixed-term marriage – muta'a in Iraq and sigheh in Iran – which has instead been used as a legitimizing cover for sex workers, in a culture where prostitution is otherwise forbidden.[35] 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. Sunnis regard prostitution as sinful and forbidden.


Köçek troupe at a fair. Recruited from the ranks of colonized ethnic groups, köçeks were entertainers and sex workers in the Ottoman Empire.

French prostitutes being taken to the police station.
In the early 17th century, there was widespread male and female prostitution throughout the cities of Kyoto, Edo, and Osaka, Japan. Oiran were courtesans in Japan during the Edo period. The oiran were considered a type of yūjo (遊女) "woman of pleasure" or prostitute. Among the oiran, the tayū (太夫) 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, the definition of prostitution does not extend to a "private agreement" reached between a woman and a man in a brothel. Yoshiwara has a large number of soaplands that began when explicit prostitution in Japan became illegal, where women washed men's bodies. They were originally known as toruko-buro, meaning Turkish bath.

A tawaif was a courtesan who catered to the nobility of South Asia, particularly during the era of the Mughal Empire. These courtesans danced, sang, recited poetry and entertained their suitors at mehfils. Like the geisha tradition in Japan, their main purpose was to professionally entertain their guests, and while sex was often incidental, it was not assured contractually. High-class or the most popular tawaifs could often pick and choose between the best of their suitors. They contributed to music, dance, theatre, film, and the Urdu literary tradition.[36]

Middle Ages
Main article: Courtesan
Throughout the Middle Ages the definition of a prostitute has been ambiguous, with various secular and canonical organizations defining prostitution in constantly evolving terms. Even though medieval secular authorities created legislation to deal with the phenomenon of prostitution, they rarely attempted to define what a prostitute was because it was deemed unnecessary "to specify exactly who fell into that [specific] category" of a prostitute.[37] The first known definition of prostitution was found in Marseille's thirteenth-century statutes, which included a chapter entitled De meretricibus ("regarding prostitutes").[37] The Marseillais designated prostitutes as "public girls" who, day and night, received two or more men in their house, and as a woman who "did business trading [their bodies], within the confine[s] of a brothel."[38] A fourteenth-century English tract, Fasciculus Morum, states that the term prostitute (termed 'meretrix' in this document), "must be applied only to those women who give themselves to anyone and will refuse none, and that for monetary gain".[38] In general prostitution was not typically a life-time career choice for women. Women usually alternated their career of prostitution with "petty retailing, and victualing," or only occasionally turning to prostitution in times of great financial need.[39] Women who became prostitutes often did not have the familial ties or means to protect themselves from the lure of prostitution, and it has been recorded on several occasions that mothers would be charged with prostituting their own daughters in exchange for extra money.[40] Medieval civilians accepted without question the fact of prostitution, it was necessary part of medieval life.[41] Prostitutes subverted the sexual tendencies of male youth, just by existing. With the establishment of prostitution men were less likely to collectively rape honest women of marriageable and re-marriageable age.[42] This is most clearly demonstrated in St. Augustine's claim that "the removal of the institution would bring lust into all aspects of the world."[43] Meaning that without prostitutes to subvert male tendencies, men would go after innocent women instead, thus the prostitutes were actually doing society a favor.

In urban societies there was an erroneous view that prostitution was flourishing more in rural regions rather than in cities, however it has been proven that prostitution was more rampant in cities and large towns.[44] Although there were wandering prostitutes in rural areas who worked based on the calendar of fairs, similar to riding a circuit, in which prostitutes stopped by various towns based on what event was going on at the time, most prostitutes remained in cities. Cities tended to draw more prostitutes due to the sheer size of the population and the institutionalization of prostitution in urban areas which made it more rampant in metropolitan regions.[44] Furthermore, in both urban and rural areas of society, women who did not live under the rule of male authority were more likely to be suspected of prostitution that their oppressed counterparts because of the fear of women who did not fit into a stereotypical category outside of marriage or religious life.[40] Secular law, like most other aspects of prostitution in the Middle Ages, is difficult to generalize due to the regional variations in attitudes towards prostitution.[45] The global trend of the thirteenth century was toward the development of positive policy on prostitution as laws exiling prostitutes changed towards sumptuary laws and the confinement of prostitutes to red light districts.[46]

Sumptuary laws became the regulatory norm for prostitutes and included making courtesans "wear a shoulder-knot of a particular color as a badge of their calling" to be able to easily distinguish the prostitute from a respectable woman in society.[46] The color that designated them as prostitutes could vary from different earth tones to yellow, as was usually designated as a color of shame in the Hebrew communities.[47] These laws, however, proved no impediment to wealthier prostitutes because their glamorous appearances were almost indistinguishable from noble women.[48]

Although brothels were still present in most cities and urban centers, and could range from private bordelages run by a procuress from her home to public baths and centers established by municipal legislation, the only centers for prostitution legally allowed were the institutionalized and publicly funded brothels.[49][50] However this did not prevent illegal brothels from thriving. Furthermore, brothels theoretically banned the patronage of married men and clergy also, but it was sporadically enforced and there is evidence of clergymen present in brawls that were documented in brothels.[51] Thus it is obvious that the clergy were at least present in brothels at some point or another. Brothels also settled the "obsessive fear of the sharing of women" and solved the issue of "collective security."[52] The lives of prostitutes in brothels were not cloistered like that of nuns and "only some lived permanently in the streets assigned to them."[53] Prostitutes were only allowed to practice their trade in the brothel in which they worked.[54] Brothels were also used to protect prostitutes and their clients through various regulations. For example, the law that "forbid brothel keepers [from] beat[ing] them."[55] However, brothel regulations also hindered prostitutes' lives by forbidding them from having "lovers other than their customers" or from having a favored customer.[55]

Courts showed the conflicting views on the role of prostitutes in secular law as prostitutes could not inherit property, defend themselves in court, or make accusations in court.[56] However, prostitutes were sometimes called upon as witnesses during trial.[57]


Brothel scene; Brunswick Monogrammist, 1537; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Prostitutes on display in Yoshiwara during the Meiji Period, Japan
16th–17th centuries
By the end of the 15th century attitudes seemed to have begun to harden against prostitution. An outbreak of syphilis in Naples 1494 which later swept across Europe, and which may have originated from the Columbian Exchange,[58] and the prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases from the earlier 16th century may have been causes of this change in attitude. By the early 16th century the association between prostitutes, plague, and contagion emerged, causing brothels and prostitution to be outlawed by secular authority.[59] Furthermore, outlawing brothel-keeping and prostitution was also used to "strengthen the criminal law" system of the sixteenth-century secular rulers.[60] Canon law defined a prostitute as "a promiscuous woman, regardless of financial elements."[61] The prostitute was considered a "whore … who [was] available for the lust of many men," and was most closely associated with promiscuity.[62]

The Church's stance on prostitution was three-fold: “acceptance of prostitution as an inevitable social fact, condemnation of those profiting from this commerce, and encouragement for the prostitute to repent."[63] The Church was forced to recognize its inability to remove prostitution from the worldly society, and in the fourteenth century "began to tolerate prostitution as a lesser evil."[64][65] However, prostitutes were to be excluded from the Church as long as they practiced.[66] Around the twelfth century, the idea of prostitute saints took hold, with Mary Magdalene being one of the most popular saints of the era. The Church used Mary Magdalene's biblical history of being a reformed harlot to encourage prostitutes to repent and mend their ways.[67] Simultaneously, religious houses were established with the purpose of providing asylum and encouraging the reformation of prostitution. 'Magdalene Homes' were particularly popular and peaked especially in the early fourteenth century.[68][69] Over the course of the Middle Ages, popes and religious communities made various attempts to remove prostitution or reform prostitutes, with varying success.[70]

With the advent of the Protestant Reformation, numbers of Southern German towns closed their brothels in an attempt to eradicate prostitution.[71] In some periods prostitutes had to distinguish themselves by particular signs, sometimes wearing very short hair or no hair at all, or wearing veils in societies where other women did not wear them. Ancient codes regulated in this case the crime of a prostitute that dissimulated her profession. In some cultures, prostitutes were the sole women allowed to sing in public or act in theatrical performances.

18th century
According to Dervish Ismail Agha, in the Dellâkname-i Dilküşâ, the Ottoman archives,[72][73] 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.[74] The Ottoman texts describe who they were, their prices, how many times they could bring their customers to orgasm, and the details of their sexual practices.

During the British East India Company's rule in India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was initially fairly common for British soldiers to engage in inter-ethnic prostitution in India, where they frequently visited local Indian nautch dancers.[75] 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 was despised altogether after the events of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.[76]

19th century
In the 19th century, legalized prostitution became a public controversy as France and then the United Kingdom passed the Contagious Diseases Acts, legislation mandating pelvic examinations for suspected prostitutes. This legislation applied not only to the United Kingdom and France, but also to their overseas colonies. France, instead of trying to outlaw prostitution began to view prostitution as an evil necessary for society to function. France chose to regulate prostitution, introducing a Morals Brigade onto the streets of Paris.[77] A similar situation did in fact exist in the Russian Empire; prostitutes operating out of government-sanctioned brothels were given yellow internal passports signifying their status and were subjected to weekly physical exams. A major work, Prostitution, Considered in Its Moral, Social, and Sanitary Aspects, was published by William Acton in 1857, which estimated that the County of London had 80,000 prostitutes and that 1 house in 60 was serving as a brothel.[78] Leo Tolstoy's novel Resurrection describes legal prostitution in 19th-century Russia.

During this period, prostitution was also very prominent in the Barbary Coast, San Francisco as the population was mainly men, due to the influx from the Gold Rush.[79] One of the more successful madams was Belle Cora, who inadvertently got involved in a scandal involving her husband, Charles Cora, shooting US Marshal William H. Richardson.[80] This led to the rise of new statutes against prostitution, gambling and other activities seen as "immoral" .[79]


Women in an early San Francisco bordello in 1870

De Wallen red-light district in Amsterdam
20th century
The leading theorists of Communism opposed prostitution. Communist governments often attempted to repress the practice immediately after obtaining power, although it always persisted. In contemporary Communist countries, it remains illegal but is nonetheless common.[81] The economic decline brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union led to increased prostitution in many current or former Communist countries.[82]

Originally, prostitution was widely legal in the United States. Prostitution was made illegal in almost all states between 1910 and 1915 largely due to the influence of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. On the other hand, prostitution generated much national revenue in South Korea, hence the military government encouraged prostitution for the U.S. military.[83][84]

In 1956, the United Kingdom introduced the Sexual Offences Act 1956. While this law did not criminalise the act of prostitution in the United Kingdom itself, it prohibited such activities as running a brothel. Soliciting was made illegal by the Street Offences Act 1959. These laws were partly repealed, and altered, by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the Policing and Crime Act 2009.

Beginning in the late 1980s, many states in the US increased the penalties for prostitution in cases where the prostitute is knowingly HIV-positive. Penalties for felony prostitution vary, with maximum sentences of typically 10 to 15 years in prison.

Sex tourism emerged in the late 20th century as a controversial aspect of Western tourism and globalization.

21st century
In the 21st century, Afghans revived a method of prostituting young boys which is referred to as "bacha bazi".[85]

Since the break up of the Soviet Union, thousands of eastern European women end up as prostitutes in China, Western Europe, Israel, and Turkey every year; some enter the profession willingly, but many are tricked, coerced, or kidnapped, and often experience captivity and violence.[86] There are tens of thousands of women from eastern Europe and Asia working as prostitutes in Dubai. Men from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates form a large proportion of the customers.[87]

India's devadasi girls are forced by their poor families to dedicate themselves to the Hindu goddess Renuka. The BBC wrote in 2007 that devadasis are "sanctified prostitutes".[88]

Historically, and currently, church prostitutes exist, and the practice may be legal or illegal, depending on the country, state or province.[89]

Payments and salaries
Prostitutes' salaries and payments fluctuate according to the economic conditions of their respective countries. Prostitutes who usually have foreign clients, such as business travelers, depend on good foreign economic conditions.[90] Payment may vary according to regulations made by pimps, brothel keepers, madams, and procurers, who usually take a slice out of a prostitute's income.[91] Prices may further depend on demand; popular, high-end prostitutes can earn significant amounts of money (upwards of $5,000 per client),[92] and virgins may receive even higher payments.
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