Prostitution has been with us almost since the beginning of time. The word itself brings images of sordid activities and deprivation into the minds of most. Prostitution is a world away from the middle class lifestyles that the majority of society lives. While, public opinion towards prostitutes and the best way to manage prostitution varies between countries, the one constant is that it is prevalent.
Does prostitution play a positive role in an economy or does it just perpetuate poverty and repression? Most countries take the later view and it is understandable when you look at the impact on both the prostitute and the client. Of course there are some countries that have legalized prostitution for the purposes of monitoring the number of workers, providing health services and collecting taxes. Even within a legal framework for prostitution there are many prostitutes who choose to work on the streets, and without any protection putting them in danger of physical assault and catching a sexually transmitted disease.
People enter the world of prostitution primarily due to their financial situation. They may be a runaway, have developed a drug addition, or have difficulties earning an income in a regular work environment due to mental issues or a lack of marketable skills. Others, have low self esteem and are attracted, addicted to the attention that they receive. The money appears good and the work easy enough. Others still are encouraged, tricked or coerced into becoming prostitutes with the promise of a better life or a job as an entertainer. Once they become embraced by the world of prostitution, it is extraordinarily difficult to exit. Placement fees usually need to be paid back, even if what was promised wasn’t delivered. Working in an illegal activity doesn’t usually allow you to access legal services that could be used for protection, and to enforce your personal rights.
Drugs are often encouraged by the minders of prostitutes and become a tool used by prostitutes to deal with the demands of the job. The result is a dependency on the money prostitution provides to feed the demon drugs, usually resulting in the prostitute’s inability to earn enough to pay for the frequency of hits, and the real risk of dying from an overdose. In many instances, organized crime syndicates control the prostitution and drug activities in a region.
Who is to blame for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and other infectious diseases? Health interventions need to be targeted at both the prostitute and their clients. The most effective way to control the spread of diseases is to make it easier for prostitutes to get condoms, regular health checks and for those with drug addictions, clean needles. The prostitutes have the largest number of different sexual interactions, but the clients will probably not be using condoms with their regular sexual partners increasing the probability of spreading infection into a community that is otherwise low risk. If the prostitute does not advocate the use of condoms, for their own protection the client in all instances should. Besides health issues, the client should consider what effect their action would have on their regular sexual partner if they were to become aware of their use of prostitutes.
Humanity exists to procreate and this entails sexual relations. If we look at history, except for the poor and low classes where both sexes needed to work to have a subsistence lifestyle, it was generally expected that the male in the relationship would provide for the family. In return, the woman would bear children, feed, and look after the children’s emotional and educational needs. Of course, with women’s right to vote and more importantly the ability to manage their fertility with contraceptives, such as condoms, women entered the work force. Within all levels of society, and outside of this framework exists the world of prostitution.
Society throughout time has generally condoned sex outside marriage. Prior to the development of condoms and other reliable contraceptive methods there was a high probability of pregnancy and the shame that this brings to one’s family. Throughout history and cultures, men have relied on the company of prostitutes to satisfy their sexual needs.
A trade in sex can develop in no time, and all that is needed is for the demand to be met with a possible supply. Typically an environment with a high percentage of single working men attracts working women who are lured by the opportunity to make some money, and this has resulted in the development of prostitution as an industry. Many then choose prostitution instead of other forms of employment as they find it more lucrative and the dangers of the job are not initially obvious to the uninitiated. Unfortunately, many prostitutes are just children, or young women sold by their parents, enslaved into prostitution and then trafficked far away from their homes into more lucrative markets.
Poor economic conditions, or a depression in the economy results in women, sometimes married women needing to work in prostitution. When there are no other employment opportunities in a local area, prostitution can always be relied on to provide some income. Some how men always find money to pay for sex and this is a constant over time, and continents.
The legalization of prostitution is not coherent with the morals of all countries, but for those that have implemented these reforms such as the Netherlands it is clear that there is no turning back. Societies’ attitude to prostitution has changed over time, during times of economic abundance there is generally a relaxation of attitudes. While during period of economic hardships puritan attitudes are enforced. Religion has a large influence on public and politician’s opinion on the activity of prostitution in a country. In some countries, being engaged in prostitution can result in the issuance of a death sentence but this is generally only given to the prostitute. In these instances, the prostitute is most probably both the victim, a society outcast with no other opportunities to earn income, and at least an equal partner in a crime. Regardless, of a societies’ view on prostitution, the prostitute should be still able to enjoy their rights as a human.