Does decriminilisation of prostitution protect sex workers?
It has been suggested that female poverty is the result of sexual discrimination and low wages in the labour market and that prostitution is a strategy for female survival under conditions of poverty
A prostitute is any person who earns a living by the indiscriminate, willing and emotionally indifferent provision of services against payment,usually in advance but not necessarily in cash.
Prostitution in the context of sex tourism has been labelled as a form of sexual imperialism by sections of the Asian women’s movement who point to the profits made by tour operators from industrial countries by incorporating prostitutes’ services in their packages of services sold to male tourists. This is attributed to the inferior economic position of some Asian countries which sought to gain from international trade through tourism.
Another view is that sexuality has now been transformed to sexual labour in the transition to capitalism. Female sexuality has become a commodity as a result of changing perceptions of the value of their sexuality. As new forms of production were introduced, the value of female sexuality has changed and their sexuality and labour have become a new form of property forcing them to use it for their survival. movement
There has been attempts to relate prostitution to marriage where women are traded as sexual objects. Marriage may be an economic transaction where girls or women are purchased through a bride price or a fee to an introduction agency.
Prostitution has its origin and counterpart in traditional forms of exchange of girls or women for cash, child marriage, temporary marriage and trafficking of women for marriage .The mail order bride industry has integrated the sale of women into the global sex industry where women are trapped by poverty and lack of remedy such as divorce .Here marriage still reflects an aspect of prostitution since women have to allow access to their bodies in return for survival. For example, muta among shia moslems where marriage even for a couple of hours for sex is seen as religiously acceptable is an example.
Sale of visual sex for purely economic considerations is not the same as prostitution but amounts to commercialisation of the body.
Stripping, flashing and teasing for a living may be analysed at various levels.Firstly, as predominantly sexual .Here, the performance is dominated by sexual activity.Secondly, as predominabtly entertainment by the amount of entertainment it provides by way of dancing.A third variety is a combination of both.The performances include baring of breasts, flashing by lowering the G-string to expose the pubic area, floor work which is that segment which is done,sitting,kneeling or lying on the floor or prop work which may include use of the dance pole on stage.
The type of the women who enter stripping tend to narcissistic who are fully aware of their attractiveness.However,the display of skin before a paying audience is purely for economic considerations and not for her own sexual arousal.The strippers basic and salable product is visual sex.The music and dancing used in their a performance are mere accessories.The occupational conditions means,firstly,isolation from affective social relationships,secondly,unsatisfactory relationships with males and thirdly an opportunity structure allowing a wide range of sexual behaviour.
As the clubs seek to maximize profits they put on many dancers which creates greater competition , forces down earnings and compels the stripper to engage in practices such as lap dancing or prostitution.
The profit levels are are enhanced by the non-payment of benefits such as sick benefits since club owners treat strippers as independent contractors renting space in the club.
Female sex tourism by western tourists is motivated by racist stereotypes using sex tourism to boost their privileged race and class status in their interaction with black men in the Africa
or the Carribean.The women are looking for black men with good bodies or firm and muscular machines they can control.
The meaning of prostitution in the United Kingdom was determined in law by the decision of the court of Appeal in Regina V McFarlane(1993) when it dismissed an appeal by a man convicted of living on the earnings of prostitution and determined that, in considering the mischief of harassment and nuisance to members of the public on the streets, the distinction between “a clipper” and “a hooker” was immaterial.
The unsuccessful appeal was brought by Eric McFarlane, aged 39, from his conviction at Knightsbridge Crown Court, before Judge Hordern, QC and a jury, on a charge of living wholly or in partly on the earnings of the prostitution of a woman, contrary to of the Sexual Offences Act 1956. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment.
Prostitutes can be divided,firstly,the lower-class hooker or streetwalker,,secondly,the call girl and thirdly, the pleasure girl.The hooker does not have a fixed address ,relying on passing trade. The call girl is more expensive.Her services are more expensive because of the cost of accommodation and telephone are included.She can afford to be more selective in her choice of customers and services offered.The pleasure- girl includes models, beauty queens, social climbers and cover girls.A term referring to all women using their bodies and female attraction not merely in exchange for money but in pursuit of getting contacts with the famous and powereful and to achieve social advancement.
In the indoor markets where the quality of service implies that a hooker may stay with a client for hours rather than minutes, a set routine may emerge. Sandra, a call girl describes the five stage process she goes through with each client as”settling him in”,” getting him going”, getting him to shoot his load”,”reassuring him”, “normalising” and “getting him out.”
The prostitute does what every woman continues to do-they sell their bodies for money while women do likewise for love; prostitute’s tease men with their provocative mini skirts while women do the same fully dressed. Women have developed the technique of surviving and being attractive for the sake of her partner and kids while a prostitutes does the same for herself and her customers.
They may be divided into two distinct groups.Firstly,those who do it out of free will (voluntary prostitutes) and secondly,those who do it because of their own psycho-neurotic needs(compulsive prostitutes)There may be three factors that influence hers decision in the case of the second group;namely,predisposing ,attracting and precipitating factors. Predisposing factors may be promiscuous parents or a broken home,attractive factors may be monetary gains or a more exciting life and precipitating factors may be unhappy love life.
Those who require the services of prostitutes may be divided into various categories.
Firstly,the male who for one reason or the other is deprived of sexual gratification.Examples include sailors, soldiers, commercial travellers police men or the widower who may not want to remarry.
Secondly, the shy young man who is unable to experiment with girls of his own
age group because he is unsure of himself. Thirdly, lonely men who need company.
Fourthly,deviant men whose sexual needs are not satisfied by normal intercourse with a woman.
Fifthly,husbands or partners of menopausal women who are less inclined to sexual
intercourse than they were a few years back. For women between the ages of 45-55,the menopause is a difficult period in terms of sexual intercourse. Symptoms of the menopause include nervousness,headaches,instability,insomnia,poor memory,moodiness,feelings of inadequacy,tiredness,lack of concentration,palpitations,back ache and aching joints,. The loss of oestrogen causes some wasting away of the genital tract resulting in potential irritation and discomfort and reduced sensitivity of the vaginal walls and greater unresponsiveness which in combination with the forgoing factors make a loss of libido likely and even when even intercourse is wanted it can either prove to be less satisfying than usual or less enjoyable or in a number of caseseven quite painful.
Men who find themselves in this kind of situation may turn their attention to to street walkers or other types of prostitutes.
Reasons given by clients for accessing the services of hookers include,” no other partner” “,not enough sex with wife/partner”, “excitement” and “ an alternative to masturbation. According one client,” doing it myself is not much fun, “Estimates of the numbers of clients based on the numbers of hookers and the amount of work they do indicates that 11 per cent of the adult male population in the UK pays for sex fairly regularly.
The level of resources that would be required to police the behaviour of such a large proportion of the population is unthinkable.Police and allied agencies who have to monitor and arrest violent sex offenders are already overstretched.
Opponents of prostitution argue that it is not possible to raise prostitution to the level of a profession because professions such as law and medicine require candidates to attain a body of skills and attain an examinable standard assessed by their peers.Professional bodies play gatekeeping roles to ensure that attractive opportunities opportunities open to professionals are not undermined by cheaper unqualified labour.
Consequently, licensing of prostitutes would only be meaningful if they are able to undertake courses to equip them for their profession while licensing boards would
impose standards which reflect the kinds of knowledge and skills required for the sex provider’s work and protect clients from any harm resulting from her work.
Other supporters of prostitution suggest that women possess special sexual skills.Street walkers stress the skills of getting men to ejaculate rapidly to avoid the discomfort of being used too long.Critics of this line of argument state that this consists of moving round and making noises which does not seem to be more specialised than the action of other women who are not getting paid who want the men they live with to end dull sexual intercourse so they can go to sleep.
Some of the arguments in favour of decriminalization of prostitution include reduction of teenage pregnancies, elimination traditional hypocrisy and double standards, reduction of crime by bringing down the level of blackmail,violence,pimps.Legalization of brothels will strengthen the marriage bond and reduce the number of divorces.By reducing divorces,it will contribute to strengthening the shrinking family unit and thus reduce
Besides,it has been suggested that prostitution provides a useful social service for the sick,the ugly,the deformed,the old and the disabled.For example,sexual frustration among prisoners is a cause of homosexuality among inmates.This argument is supported by the fact that homosexuality is rampant is residential boys schools where access to the opposite sex is quite restricted.
Further,it is argued that female prostitution tends to reduce homosexuality.
By associating with females the male learns the traits of sensitivity, tenderness and warmth which will ultimately make him a successful partner.Where masculine traits are
lacking the male becomes either too closely associated with the mother or finds himself in a position of conflict with her.His familiarity with persons of the opposite sex other than his mother is adversely affected. This may explain why some men are put off by an increasing number of strong-willed, assertive group of women
who as a reaction prefer friendship with other men.
Further,at a social level it is argued that decriminalisation will eradicate
traditional hypocrisy and make double standards unnecessary as well as reduce
crime generally. For example, street walkers who are on drugs work much longer
hours than those who are not.Similarly, those who have to pay fines will have
to work harder than those who are not caught.More frequent contacts are more
likely to result in the spread of sexually transmitted disease.It likely that
a prostitute who operates from a licensed brothel would not need the protection of the kind provided by pimps or criminal organizations or need to work long hours
and hence find drug use unnecessary.
However,it has been suggested that there are pimps whose services prostitutes
consider to be an asset by acting as agents. They offer a series of practical services for a price which is necessary such as soliciting for sex by finding clients,giving warnings of police arrivals as well as protection from violence or robbery or giving free sex services.
When it comes to present day society,there appears to be some confusion in its
approach to love and marriage.Women have worsened the situation by maintaining
a degree of universality of her role within marriage and society by claiming
that they can be wife,mother,sister,mistress and friend at the same time.Previously,there
was a distinction between profane and sacred love and it was considered acceptable that a human being is capable of both of looking up to heaven and wallowing in hell.The distinction between pure and impure love is to highlight the idea that our
sexuality is capable of being directed in at least two ways.
Indeed, there is a school of thought which divides women into three categories
When it comes availability of sexual favours.Firstly,those loyal to one man who would prefer death to ‘forced’ intercourse.Secondly,the not so high minded who would occasionally provide sexual favours to achieve an objective and thirdly,the saleswoman
who because of their moral upbringing or environment or hormonal development or psychological heritage attach no importance to their sex organ and are prepared to sell it.
According to J.C Flugel in his book “The Psycho Analytic Study of a Family”, the sexual elements of love are more frequently aroused in a woman together with tenderness and esteem whereas in a man, they can be isolated from each other.Most women may only be capable of having sex only with a man with whom they are in love while some men are content with having sex with a slut just for the sake of gratification.
Critics of commercial sex argue that it encourages violence against women.“I am down on whores and shan’t quit ripping them till I do get buckled…” is a quote from a letter sent to the press by someone claiming to be Jack the Ripper,the notorious White Chapel murderer in 1888.It has been suggested that prostitution facilitates murder of sex workers.Sex workers experience violence from clients or men who pretend to be clients,vigilantes,muggers,robbers,partners,pimps and managers. Violence from clients and vigilantes and robbers often takes place while the victim is at work.At the street level the public nature of the work exposes them to aggression from street people and clients.A sex worker may have sex in a car,or outdoors,in alleyways, industrial units,parks,derelict buildings buildings or go to the clients home.
Potterat et al(2003) state that in the United States . sex workers are more likely to be murdered than women of similar demographic charateristics.They concluded that the homicide rate is many times higher than for any occupation in the developed world.”
Location of work is a critical factor regarding the risk of being murdered, The risk of being murdered as a sex worker is higher for street walkers.An analysis
of press reports of 84 deaths and disappearances of sex workers in the UK between
1990 and 2004 shows that only one out of the group was male.The majority were street
workers who were last seen alive while working.While others worked from pubs
and lorry parks.Only one indoor worker was killed at premises were other people were present at the time of the murder.Eight other indoor workers were found dead either in their own premises or in the homes of clients who were subsequently convicted.
.Indoor workers may operate alone, making them vulnerable to attack; where they operate in a group they may be targeted for robbery since the more workers there are in one place, the greater the amount of cash likely to be on the premises. Research carried out by Channel 4 in 2002 found 52 per cent of sex workers experienced attacks for no apparent reason.
However,some of the possible reasons that may have triggered the attacks include sex workers refusing the type of services the client wanted ,disputes over money or clients refusing to pay,sex workers saying time up before the client could ejaculate after being paid or the client being unable to get an erection.
Clients’ problems with ejaculation are frequently related to alcohol use which in itself has potential for violence.Since much sex work takes place at night as pubs and clubs are closing sex workers will be exposed to the effects of alcohol from their clientele.
Physical location facilitates violence against street workers since interaction takes place
In dark,isolated places where attacks take place.Clients and others who attack sex workers share common social attitudes that sex workers are worthless individuals, degraded women who deserve punishment. It would be difficult change such attitudes as long as policies and public statements about sex work reinforce an atmosphere of abhorrence aimed at shaming and humiliating clients.
Sex worker deaths by homicide are likely to be unrecorded since the coding system does not include in its record of “key occupation” those women
who have other forms of unemployment or whose involvement in sex work is concealed.
Women who work in institutions providing sex-related entertainment such as night clubs,escort services or massage parlours have a sexual identity which is defined
as a personal service.They are largely protected from the police,the law and the court.The legal framework in which these commercial institutions they operate does
not view prostitutes as criminals but as wage workers. Prostitution law affects them only when it can be proved that they have engaged in sex for money
Physical coercion, abduction and debt bondage deprive women of their civil and human rights which are exploited to turn them into objects of slave labour.Whatever physical assets they may possess are to be used to provide pleasure for their clients while they
derive no lasting rewards except maintenance provided by the brothel owner who collects all the benefits.In cases of socio-economic coercion women must compete with
each other and expose their assets to attract clients.They must also invest in their assets to maintain their value by buying clothing and cosmetics and ensure a certain degree of mobility within the hierarchy of the sex industry.Such mobility determined by
the sustainability of their physical appearance and fluctuations in the market. Downward
mobility from well paid forms of prostitution to street soliciting may occur in the course of the hooker’s life.Upward mobility is also possible for hookers who use
their experience in the different institutions to acquire knowledge about the market
in order to operate more independently.
The institutionalisation of criminality in prostitution compromises the position of hookers in relation to their employers and clients and worsens the existing relation
of patronage. The criminalisation of prostitution renders hookers more vulnerable to
control by employers of their physical mobility,labour and earnings.The use of the wage
system as a redistributive measure and a bargaining tool is therefore minimised.
Discrimination against prostitutes is considered to as one of a more generalized trend of discrimination through sex-stereotyped occupations in the wage labour sector
where women are crowded into a limited range of low paid servicing functions on the basis of their gender. A parallel is drawn between prostitution and other sex stereotyped occupations such as waitresses, fashion models and secretaries. Therefore, hookers
should not be criticised as the only women opting for work which in some
ways panders to male dominance. In a society with sexual disadvantages, the choice
presented to women generally by way of wage labour or domestic work is likely to lead to the same trap.
The English collective of prostitutes stated in a newsletter it is poverty which should outlawed and prostitution.It is argued that it is one form of women’s struggle to get paid for housework-by getting paid for the sexual services all women are expected to give for free.”After all,who are prostitutes but housewives who go out for an evening job.”Against this thesis it has been stated that it is impossible to equate a housewife with a hooker on the basis of poverty and wagelessness because not all hookers are poor and not all poor housewives enter prostitution.
In conclusion,society’s hatred of commercial sex has resulted in laws and law enforcement strategies that prevent neither violence nor exploitation of sex workers.The
legal framework makes all forms of sex work dangerous and proposals for making it safe
are rejected in order not to encourage prostitution.