Prostitution: Fresh Stakes in the Oldest Trade

About Prostitution

Prostitution or sexual gratification for money is perhaps the world’s oldest known trade. The changing face of the murky trade has now broadened to include street prostitution, massage brothels, escort services, gigolo outcall services, strip clubs, lap dancing, phone sex, child prostitution and sex tourism.

This high risk industry is fraught with violence and abuse but keeps growing by the day, raking in revenues for those who call the shots and with women and children as hapless victims of exploitation.

Consensual offence?

Prostitution is classified as victimless or consensual offence, because it is generally assumed that in such shady deals services are willingly offered and taken. But research done all over the world— in developed, developing and under developed countries shows that may not be the true picture of prostitution.

Sexual and physical violence and pornography

Most prostitutes have been subject to sexual and physical violence at some point of time in the line of their job. A US survey among adults working in prostitution reported the following:

  • 82% had been physically assaulted;
  • 83% had been threatened with a weapon;
  • 73% had been raped while working as a prostitute;
  • 70% were victims of sexual assault by customers;
  • 50% were reportedly kidnapped by pimps;
  • 76% were beaten by pimps;
  • 79% were beaten by customers;

In another study 38% of prostitutes stated that pimps regularly exposed them to pornography. 80% stated that customers used pornographic videos and photographs to demonstrate which activities they wanted the prostitutes to perform, most often for kinky sex.


Prostitution causes harm to women and children

Melissa Farley who conducted an extensive research on prostitution in the US, observes in her “Prostitution: Fact sheet on Human Rights Violations”, that prostitution involves sexual harassment, battering, rape, verbal abuse, childhood sexual abuse and a violation of human rights on the whole. Farley writes, "Whether it is being sold by one's family to a brothel, or whether it is being sexually abused in one's family, running away from home, and then being pimped by one's boyfriend, or whether one is in college and needs to pay for next semester's tuition and one works at a strip club behind glass where men never actually touch you – all these forms of prostitution hurt the women in it."

Statistics in the West

Given the clandestine nature of this trade and the social stigma attached to it, statistical data are extremely difficult to gather, but researches suggest that there are more than 1 million prostitutes in the US and 80, 000 in the UK.

One survey shows that nearly 50%of men in the US have been with a prostitute at least once in their lifetime. In a study among prostitutes in London, it was seen that 50% of clients were married or co-habiting. A 2004 survey shows that 95% of the street prostitutes or “kerb crawlers” as they are infamously called, are drug users and many are homeless.

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