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Review of Related Literature A growing number of scholars regard prostitution, pornography, and stripping as sex work and study

it as an occupation. Exploring all dimensions of the work, in different contexts, these studies document substantial variation in the way prostitution is organized and experienced by workers, clients, and managers. These studies undermine some deep-rooted myths about prostitution and challenge writers and activists who depict prostitution monolithically.

The most popular monolithic perspective is that prostitution is an unqualified evil. According to this oppression model, exploitation, abuse, and misery are intrinsic to the sex trade. In this view, most prostitutes were physically or sexually abused as children, which helps to explain their entry into prostitution; most enter the trade as adolescents, around 1314 years of age; most are tricked or forced into the trade by pimps or sex traffickers; drug addiction is rampant; customer violence against workers is routine and pervasive; working conditions are abysmal; and legalization would only worsen the situation.

Some writers go further, characterizing the essential nature of prostitution. Because prostitution is defined as an institution of extreme male domination over women, these writers say that violence and exploitation are inherent and

omnipresenttranscending historical time period, national context, and type of prostitution. As Sheila Jeffreys writes, Prostitution constitutes sexual violence against women in and of itself; and according to Melissa Farley, prostitution is a vicious institution that is intrinsically traumatizing to the person being prostituted. Many writers who subscribe to the oppression model use dramatic language (sexual slavery, paid rape, survivors, and so on) and d escribe only the most disturbing cases, which they present as typicalrhetorical tricks designed to fuel public indignation. The oppression models images of victimhood erase workers autonomy and agency, and preclude any possibility of organizing sex work in order to minimize harm and empower workers. This model holds that prostitution should be eradicated, not ameliorated. But much research challenges the oppression model as well as some other popular fictions.

Much of what has been written about prostitution in the medical and social sciences fails to address the sexual violence and psychological harm which both precede and are intrinsic to prostitution. A few have noted that prostitution involves a lifelong continuum of sexual exploitation and violence which begins with sexual assault or prostitution in childhood. Most authors between 1980 and

1998 failed to address the violence in prostitution. Instead, there has been an almost exclusive focus on sexually transmitted disease (STD), especially the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the recent social science and medical literature on prostitution. Although HIV has certainly created a public health crisis, the violence and human rights violations in prostitution have also resulted in health crises for those prostituted.

Much of the health sciences literature assumed the normalcy of prostitution as vocational choice for women (Deren et al. 1996; Farr et al.,91996; Green et al 1993). It was often suggested that prostitution could be a safe activity. However, this perspective seemed only to consider safety from HIV.

In 1988, the World Health Organization contributed to the normalizing of prostitution by describing it as dynamic and adaptive sex work, involving a transaction between seller and buyer of a sexual service. (cited in Scambler & Scambler, 1995, page 18) Other researchers virtually instructed women in prostitution to smile in the face of abuse and to proceed with the job of servicing johns (Perkins & Lovejoy,1996; Graaf et al., 1995). Graaf et al.(1995, page 45) recommended a positive professional image.

Wong et al. (1994) formulated a STD/HIV prevention program in Singapore which ignored pervasive violence in prostitution. Role playing and use of comic books were aimed at increasing condom use.

Pederson (1994) noted the coincidence of the HIV epidemic and the concept of prostitution as vocational choice. Some have suggested that prostituted women in the commercial sex industry are simply another category of workers with special problems and needs (Bullough & Bullough, 1996, page 177). This perspective reflects the customers view that if prostitutes behavior can be controlled, perhaps HIV can also be controlled. An editorial in Lancet (1996) suggested that decriminalization of prostitution would decrease police harassment and assist prostituted women in finding safer state licensed brothels in which to work, although the writer questioned whether herding prostitutes into brothels would actually benefit their health or safety. Other negative health consequences of prostitution were not discussed.

Several authors assumed that the primary problem with prostitution was its illegal status. Donegan (1996) suggested that because prostitution is underground, young women suffer from social stigma. This perspective, however, does not address the

social stigma and enormous contempt aimed at women in areas where prostitution is legal for example, Nevada.

The commercial sex industry is a multibillion dollar global market which includes strip clubs, massage brothels, phone sex, adult and child pornography, street, brothel, and escort prostitution. Ones political perspective will determine whether prostitution is viewed primarily as a public health issue, as an issue of zoning and property values (which parts of town should house strip clubs and pornography stores?), as vocational choice, as sexual liberation, as petty crime, as domestic violence, or as human rights violation.

For the vast majority of the worlds prostituted women, prostitution is the experience of being hunted, dominated, harassed, assaulted, and battered. Intrinsic to prostitution are numerous violations of human rights: sexual harassment, economic servitude, educational deprivation, job discrimination, domestic violence, racism, classism, vulnerability to frequent physical and sexual assault, and being subjected to body invasions which are equivalent to torture.

The impact of prostitution There is much evidence to show that prostitution is harmful to women directly involved, women in general, to men who buy women in prostitution to families and to communities:

Women and children abused in prostitution experience severe and long lasting physical and mental health problems.

Prostitution is harmful in and of itself, i.e. the constantly repeated experience of submitting to unwanted sex is very damaging to womens mental health, self-esteem and sexuality.

Having to endure unwanted sex leads to the need to dissociate often using drugs and/or alcohol. Whatever the reason for women entering prostitution, her drug and alcohol use is likely to hugely increase.

Many women involved in street prostitution do not have care of their children (usually as a consequence of drug and alcohol misuse). This has a strong impact on the women themselves and is a common issue they need support on through services. It also has an impact on the children, the extended family, for example grandparents bringing up grandchildren, and on child protection services.

Impact on family life, for families where women become involved, and also families of men who buy sex: e.g. health risks, loss of income.

Impact on communities, especially in areas where street prostitution takes place: debris, noise, increased traffic from kerb crawlers, harassment of local residents, witnessing sexual activity.

Only 19% of women working as prostitutes in flats, parlours and saunas are originally from the UK (

3 out of 4 women in prostitution become involved aged 21 or younger, and 1 in 2 aged 18 or younger(

87% of women in street-based prostitution use heroin (

25% of men who had bought sex in prostitution expressed significant or shame about having done so (Challenging Demand 2008)

A Survey of Male Attendees at Sandyford Initiative: Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Behaviours in Relation to Prostitution. (Word 5.90MB)

The following figures are from the Home Office report Paying the Price: (

8.9% of men in London aged 16-44 reported having paid for sex in the past 5 years

75% of children abused through prostitution had been missing from school As many as 85% women in prostitution report physical abuse in the family, with 45% reporting familial sexual abuse

In the UK as many as 60 women involved in prostitution have been murdered in the last 10 years 80,000 women work in on -street prostitution in the UK. The average age women become involved being just 12yrs old

The Womens Support Project believes that condoning or accepting prostitution undermines work on gender equality and on violence against women: what sense could we make of work against rape, sexual harassment at work, stalking and underage sex if men can simply buy these activities through prostitution? Options for responding The three main approaches for responding to prostitution are harm reduction, legalisation and decriminalisation. 1. Harm reduction Harm reduction involves the ongoing support of women and men who are involved in prostitution, dealing with more short term issues such as safety, drug and

substance use / addiction, safer sex and HIV prevention work. Work with women currently involved in prostitution needs to include harm reduction as a necessary response for the short term - but we also should be working to end prostitution forever. Harm reduction must be coupled with interventions to support women leave prostitution, which can often take many years. These interventions need to offer safe accommodation, drug treatment, robust counseling and support services, opportunities for women to develop their confidence and self esteem, learn new skills and training for future employment. Some people take the view that it is nave or unrealistic to aim to end prostitution. Prostitution is sometimes called the oldest profession. In fact slavery is older and it can be argued that prostitution originally stemmed from slavery. Many people said that it would be impossible to end slavery but we now have a situation where slavery is illegal throughout the world. Although people are still living in conditions of slavery, this is no longer legal slavery and there are rights and legal protection, which can be applied to the situation. The same can happen with prostitution. The idea of prostitution tolerance zones has been debated in Scotland for many years, often to a heated degree. To legislate for a permanent official zone is to

take an out of sight, out of mind approach, which effectively abandons the women already caught up in prostitution. Neither does this approach challenge the lasting harm caused through prostitution or address the issues around inequality and mens demand to buy womens and childrens bodies for their own pleasure. Furthermore it has been found that violence and crime can thrive in tolerance zones, including tension between different groups over territory and profit. 2. Legalisation If any activity is harmful, then we will not remove that harm by legalising the activity. There are contradictions between opposing prostitution of under 18 year olds and trafficking, whilst supporting prostitution as legitimate work. If you take this view, how do you respond to the almost fifty per cent of women who enter prostitution under age 18? ( The Womens Support Project makes no distinction between forced and free prostitution, viewing it all as exploitation. It is a distraction to say that women who have been forced into it are victims whilst those who enter it through limited choices or economic pressures have made an informed choice.

The hazards associated with prostitution include risk of pregnancy, high abortion rate, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault, abduction, rape and murder. These would not disappear if prostitution were legalised. Many people hold the view that legalisation would improve conditions for women in the sex industry. This claim has been made repeatedly by the sex industry however evidence from the Netherlands and from states in Australia that have legalised some areas of prostitution shows that legalisation does nothing to reduce harm. Furthermore there are many contradictions around legislating prostitution as legitimate employment, such as the prospect of unemployed women being threatened with reduction of benefit if they refuse to accept a job in prostitution. If prostitution was recognised as legitimate work would brothels and escort agencies be welcome to come along to the school or college careers night? The arguments for legalisation relate to mens comfort and ease of conscience. Legalisation of prostitution makes money for men and women involved in running escort agencies and brothels and for the state through supposed taxation but it does not improve the situation of prostituted women and children.

3. Decriminalisation It is important that any move to decriminalise prostitution comes from the principle that prostitution is harmful and therefore must be ended. All forms of prostitution should be included, especially street prostitution as this is where many of the most vulnerable women are exploited. In order to be effective, the decriminalisation of prostituted women must be accompanied by:

criminalisation of third parties profiting from prostitution. criminalisation of buyers of sexual services. Pro-active services to help women get out of prostitution, including access to safe accommodation, education, training, drug rehabilitation, and to ongoing support.

Prevention work to reduce demand from men to buy sex.

The Womens Support Project views the most appropriate approach for Scotland as one that states that is not acceptable in our culture, which strives towards equality and human rights, to condone or ignore the exploitation of women in prostitution. We therefore support

Decriminalising selling sex

Extending current legislation on buying sex to all venues and settings including brothels, saunas, lap dance clubs and massage parlours

Actively enforcing the law and target those who buy sex and those who profit through the sale of women e.g. landlords, escort agency websites, newspapers and magazines advertising prostitution

Provision of adequate resources for prevention work, harm reduction and support to exit prostitution.

Sources: The West Australian, Classified Liftout, 13 December 1997, pp.65-66. Dwight Randall, Prostitution in Perth, Life Ministries Current Issues Paper, January 1998.

Lansdown, A. (2007).Life Ministries. Australia,172/