The “sex work” discourse has turned the world’s oldest profession into the world’s most modern profession. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being legal and considered a profession to being punishable by death.
Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern cultures. Prostitution has been described as the world’s oldest profession, and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.
Prostitution was commonplace in ancient Israel. There are a number of references to prostitution in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical story of Judah and Tamar provides a depiction of prostitution being practiced in that time period. Prostitution in Ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In Ancient Rome, even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. At the same time, the prostitutes themselves were considered shameful. Most prostitutes were slaves or freedwomen, and it is difficult to determine the balance of voluntary to forced prostitution. Because slaves were considered property under Roman law, it was legal for an owner to employ them as prostitutes. During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape. However, sexual slavery was not considered prostitution and was very common during the Arab slave trade during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Women and girls from the Caucasus, Africa, Central Asia and Europe were captured and served as concubines in the harems of the Arab World.
In 1949, the UN General Assembly adopted a convention stating that, prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person, requiring all signing parties to punish pimps and brothel owners and operators and to abolish all special treatment or registration of prostitutes. As of January 2009, the convention was ratified by 95 member nations including France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and not ratified by another 97 member nations including Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Prostitution has occupational hazards that few other jobs come close to: 82 percent of people in prostitution have been physically assaulted, 83 percent have been threatened with a weapon and 68 percent have been raped. The death rate among women in prostitution is higher than for any other group of women, including homeless women and drug addicts.
Groups claiming to represent “sex workers” are just as likely to be a voice for pimps as they are to represent the women who earn their living selling sex.
Several terms are becoming derogatory and indecent as human race is moving forward. In Oct 2010 President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government.
It was Barack Obama who said that human trafficking should be renamed ‘modern slavery’, so as to highlight the appalling conditions people were living in.The same applies to prostitution: it is not ‘sex work’. Most of the time, it is modern slavery.
Prostitution has not changed. It is the same industry, the same rich men buying poor women, the same exploitation, the same violence and the same trafficking. What has changed is the label.
Hooker, whore, prostitute, call girl, harlot, slut, etc. etc.
At least to me I find all the above terms derogatory and disrespectful. Have we given any term to the men who pay these sex workers for their time? Why do they deserve any respect if women sex worker can’t?
Why are we judgemental towards the women sex workers only? Why not the men who is paying?
I am in agreement with the Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, where it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them — the client commits a crime, but not the sex worker.