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The World’s Oldest Profession

While prostitution is legal or tolerated in some cultures, it is illegal or socially discouraged in others. Motivations for suppression can vary significantly, from basic moral repugnance to concerns about the effects on society and on those who practice it, as well as whether it is an exploitative practice. Context The old cliche states that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. It has been found in nearly every civilization on Earth stretching back throughout all recorded human history. Wherever there has been money, goods, or services to be bartered, somebody has bartered them for sex.

The Code of the Hammurabi is an ancient law code that was enacted by the Babylonian king, Hammurabi. In it, Hammurabi wrote provisions that addressed inheritance to women, including prostitutes. The code recognized the need to protect women’s property rights. There are many traces of sacred prostitution, starting perhaps with Babylon, where each woman had to reach, once in their lives, and there have sex with a foreigner as a sign of hospitality for a symbolic price (Samarasinghe). Prostitution in was part of daily life in ancient Greece.

“Important cities and particularly the many ports, it employed a significant proportion of the population and represented one of the top levels of economic activity. It was far from being clandestine; cities did not condemn brothels, and they existed in plain view” (Pinney). Pinney continues by stating that Solon, a legendary law maker, is credited with creating state brothels with regulated prices. A brothel, also known as a bordello, is an establishment specifically dedicated to prostitution, providing the prostitutes a place to meet and have sexual intercourse with clients.

In the Greek society, prostitution involved both sexes differently. Women of all ages and young men were prostitutes, for a predominantly male clientele. “Ancient Greek prostitutes were divided into several categories” (Pinney). The “pornai” were found at the bottom end of the scale. They were the property pimps, who received a portion of their earnings. “The owner could be a citizen, for this activity was considered as a source of income just like any other one” (Pinney). Independent prostitutes who worked the street were on the next higher level.

“Besides directly displaying their charms to potential clients they had recourse to publicity. They used makeup to stand out” (Theory of Prostitution). These prostitutes had various origins. Some of them could not find other work. In Athens, they had to be registered with the city and pay a tax. Hataera were the pinnacle of prostitutes in ancient Greece. As opposed to the rest, they did not restrict themselves to offering sexual services. They often times, had meticulous education that enabled them to take part in conversations with cultivated gentlemen. 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 was held to prevent the greater evils of rape, sodomy, and masturbation. St. Augustine, the famous Latin theologian, stated, “If you expel prostitution from society, you will unsettle everything on account of lusts” (Theory of Prostitution). Even though it was tolerated, the general public was for the most part reluctant of its acceptance, and many cartoonists urged prostitutes to reform. After the decline of organized prostitution of the Roman Empire, many prostitutes were slaves.

However, religious campaigns against slavery and the growing economy, turned prostitution back into a business (Theory of Prostitution). It was common to find town governments ruling that prostitutes were not to ply their trade within the town walls. That is, the prostitutes had to go about their business outside of the town limits because these areas were beyond the jurisdiction of authorities. In many areas of France and Germany, local governments came to set aside certain streets as areas where prostitution could be tolerated. “In London, the brothels of Southwark were owned by the Bishop of Winchester (Theory of Prostitution).

Later, it became common in major towns and cities of Southern Europe to establish civic brothels, whilst outlawing any prostitution taking place outside of these establishments. By the end of the 15th century, attitudes seemed to have begun to harden against prostitution. The major factor behind the shift in ideologies was the outbreak of syphilis in Naples. It is believed to have been originated from the Columbian Exchange, and the prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases from the earlier century. In an attempt to eradicate prostitution, many German towns closed their brothels.

This was due in part to the Protestant Reformation. In the 19th century, the United Kingdom passed the Contagious Diseases Acts. The act was specifically aimed at keeping down the levels of venereal disease in the armed forces by allowing police to identify diseased prostitutes within eleven specified towns. It also required the prostitutes to undergo mandatory medical examination and treatment. The acts were not passed without controversy. The acts meant that any woman who lived, worked, or passed through these poor areas were subject to arrest and compulsory medical examination on the suspicion of being a prostitute.

The acts were often abused and misused by police officers. Around the same time in the United States, men could eat, listen to music, watch a fight, or pay women for sex. “Over 200 brothels existed in lower Manhattan” (Ringdal). Prostitution was illegal under vagrancy laws, but was hardly enforced by police and city official. This was mainly due to them being bribed by brothel owners. Attempts to regulate prostitution were struck down on grounds that it is against the public good. According to the History Channel documentary, Prostitution in America, 75% of New York men had some type of sexually transmitted disease.

The gold rush attracted gambling, crime, saloons, and prostitution to the mining towns on the west. In 1908, the Bureau of Investigation was founded by the government to investigate white slavery by interviewing brothel employees to find out if they had been kidnapped. Out of 1106 prostitutes interviewed in one city, six said they were victims of white slavery. The Bureau of Investigation soon became the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United States passed the White-Slave Traffic act of 1910 which prohibited white slavery. It also banned the interstate transport of females for immoral purposes.

Its primary intent was to address prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking. The act became known as the Mann Act. The Mann Act was commonly used to prosecute men for having sex with underage women. “It was also used to harass others who had drawn the authorities’ wrath for immoral behavior” (Ringdal). According to Ringdal, the first person prosecuted under the act was heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. He was an African American man and had an affair with a white prostitute. Johnson was found guilty in trial and was sentenced to the maximum penalty of a year and a day in prison.

Charlie Chaplin was prosecuted in 1944 by federal authorities for Mann Act related charges. He was acquitted, but his public image was tarnished by the accusations. In 1978, Congress updated the act’s definition of transportation. It added protection against commercial sexual exploitation for minors. It added a 1986 amendment which further protected minors and added protection for adult males. It replaced the ambiguous “debauchery” and “any other immoral purpose” with the more specific “any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense” (Ringdal).

Child prostitution is one of the issues with legalizing prostitution. It is estimated that about 293,000 American youth were at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation (Jeffreys). Jeffreys continues, “I argue that child and adult prostitution are inextricably interlinked, both in personnel (the women and children work together) and in terms of the abusers (who make no distinctions). ” About one-fifth of these children become entangled in nationally organized crime networks and are trafficked nationally.

They are transported around the United States and are often provided with counterfeit identification to use in the event of an arrest. Around the world, prostitution and the exploitation of children occurs at a higher rate. Adults often travel to countries to have access to have sex with minors. It often happens in countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand and Cambodia. Street prostitution is illegal throughout the United States. Street prostitution is a specific form of prostitution in which the sex worker operates from the street.

The street prostitute typically solicits customers while waiting alongside the street, often dressed in a provocative manner. It is considered to be the most dangerous form of prostitution. It is believed that most street prostitutes work to feed a drug addiction. Immigrants are the other targets that are vulnerable victims of prostitution. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Los Angeles Police Department have all contributed in catching gangs that smuggle immigrants and make them sex slaves.

The victims endure frequent threats of violence as well as physical abuse. Escort prostitution exists throughout the United States from both independent prostitutes and those employed through escort agencies, despite its illegality. Advertisements may be found in the back of freelance magazines, or on internet sites such as Craigslist. An escort service in Alaska targeted women who were homeless, in low paying jobs, or runaway. Females would meet their customers at his residence. The women had to turn over all the money and in return they received a gram of cocaine (U. S.

Department of Justice). While strip clubs or gentlemen clubs are legal, paid sex acts have been known to occur at these locations. The United States Department of Justice claimed that paid sex acts are “obvious to undercover officers. With the exception of rural counties in Nevada, brothels are illegal across the United States. However, many establishments labeled “saunas” or “massage parlors” are fronts for prostitution. Both Sides For almost 30 years, Rhode Island had the distinction of being the only state outside of Nevada where indoor prostitution was not considered a crime.

This changed when Governor Carcieri signed into law legislation to outlaw indoor prostitution in the state. The governor said that prostitution would not end in Rhode Island, but the state “will no longer be a safe haven for pimping, and trafficking, and the victimization of young women” (Projo) Pimping is one of the reasons why people oppose legalizing prostitution. It is considered a victimless crime, however, often times the prostitutes end up being victims of their pimps. A pimp is one who manages people in prostitution in order to profit from their earnings.

In return, the pimp offers the prostitutes protection from other pimps or clients, shelter, or supply them with drugs. This reason alone removes the tag of “victimless” from this type of crime. “By law, pimps are defined as those who support themselves via the earnings of prostitutes. Thus, when a government benefits from taxing the earning of prostitutes in legalized or decriminalized prostitution, it is appropriate to bring the notion of pimping into the discussion, hence pimp-state” (Farley). Child prostitution and human trafficking are reasons why supporters believe that prostitution should be prohibited.

They argue that a system which allows legalized and regulated prostitution has very negative effects and does not improve the situation of the prostitutes; such legal systems only lead to crime and abuse: many women who work in licensed brothels are still controlled by outside pimps. They also argue that the creation of a legal and regulated prostitution industry only leads to another parallel illegal industry, as” many women do not want to register and work legally (since this would rob them of their anonymity) and other women cannot be hired by legal brothels because of underlying problems.

Legalizing prostitution makes it more socially acceptable to buy sex, creating a huge demand for prostitutes (both by local men and by foreigners engaging in sex tourism) and, as a result, human trafficking and underage prostitution increase in order to satisfy this demand” (Farley). It is widely believed that the victims are the prostitutes themselves, arguing that prostitution is a practice which leads to serious psychological and physical long term effects for the prostitutes. The other argument is that prostitutes have not consented to the sexual act.

This is argued in the sense that the prostitutes are forced to sell sex, either by somebody else, or by the unfortunate circumstances of their lives such as poverty, lack of opportunity, drug addiction, or a history of severe childhood abuse. Advocates of prostitution decriminalization believe that the act is a victimless crime. Prostitution should not be a crime. “Prostitutes are not committing an inherently harmful act. While the spread of disease and other detriments are possible in the practice of prostitution, criminalization is a sure way of exacerbating rather than addressing such effects.

We saw this quite clearly in the time of alcohol prohibition in this country” (Colb). It is a widely known fact that Netherlands is the home of legalized marijuana and prostitution. According to a report in the New York Times, officials estimate that sexual transactions in Amsterdam account for $100 million per year. The red light district is a popular tourist attraction and the revenues that the city earns in tourism can be greatly attributed to the legalization of brothels and drugs. In an economy that is hurting for money, the generation of extra tax dollars from legalized prostitution would aide it.

Through regulated prostitution, frequent health checks are mandated. In Nevada, state law requires that registered brothel prostitutes be checked frequently for various sexually transmitted diseases. The use of condoms is also mandated. “Prostitution is going to happen anyway. Given that the best efforts to end it have failed, does it not make more sense from a public-health standpoint to regulate it and minimize, as much as possible” (Colb). Mandatory health checks can potentially decrease the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Most people who are infected with a disease or HIV do not actually know it.

By enforcing the regular health check-ups, the public would actually become more aware of their health. Individuals would know of their infections sooner, and prevent from spreading it to others creating the domino effect. It is argued that properly licensed premises would mean that the worst aspects of the sex trade could be eliminated. This would tackle the exploitation of minors, child prostitution, human trafficking, and the element of sex slavery. As long as these places were to be regulated, security would be an issue. Those who oppose the legalization of prostitution claim that the spread of disease would increase.

However, the spread of disease is more likely to decrease because of the regular check-ups. Prostitutes in the United States who are working illegally, could be potentially be carrying a disease without their knowledge. Many people believe that Amsterdam is the ideal model to follow in regards to the legalization of prostitution. However, state officials have said that it was not a small scale business anymore. Prostitution has in fact become a large problem for the Dutch government because of the large numbers. Prostitution has remained connected with criminal activity and has lead authorities to take several measures.

There has been an increase in violence centered on the industry. More immigrants have come into the country to work as prostitutes. While it cannot be proven that they are being trafficked, the government believes that this is the case. The Dutch government is working on closing over 300 brothels due to the massive size of the industry and the problems they are having trying to regulate it. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Netherlands is listed as a top destination for victims of human trafficking. The human trafficked come from Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova, and the Ukraine.

Those who favor the legalization of prostitution argue that individuals who oppose the legalization are basing their decisions on opinions and not facts. There is a belief that legalized prostitution would ease the access to having an affair. However, the counterargument is that a man who will cheat will do so regardless of their legality. That is, is prostitution remains illegal, a cheating man would simply solicit an illegal prostitute or find other means to have an affair. Synthesis Nevada allows some legal prostitution. Most rural counties brothels are legalized and heavily regulated.

It is the only state to do so after Rhode Island outlawed prostitution earlier this year. Under Nevada state law, any county with a population under 400,000 is allowed to license brothels if it chooses to do so. Licensing fees for brothels range from an annual $100,000 in some counties to $200 annually in smaller counties. Licensed prostitutes must be at least 21 years old. Nevada law requires that registered brothel prostitutes be tested weekly for gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and monthly for HIV and syphilis. Brothel owners may be held liable if customers become infected with HIV after a prostitute has tested positive for the virus.

Brothel prostitutes work as independent contractors and thus do not receive any unemployment, retirement or health benefits. They are responsible for paying Federal income tax and their earnings are reported to the Internal Revenue Service via form 1099-MISC. “Since 1986, when mandatory testing began, not a single brothel prostitute has tested positive for HIV. The mandatory condom law was passed in 1988. A study conducted in 1995 in two brothels found that condom use in the brothels was consistent and sexually transmitted diseases were accordingly absent.

The study also found that few of the prostitutes used condoms in their private lives” (Facilitating). Prostitution may actually be legalized in brothels that would be located in rural communities. Nevada is a perfect example of how a compromise can be made. People from large cities would have to inconvenience themselves and travel far distances to go to one of these establishments. However, for those that are willing to do so, prostitutes would readily be available for anyone willing to make that trip. While it is true that often times women are forced to enter the industry, there are females that would enter this profession voluntarily.

A person wanting to own a brothel may purchase a license to operate the business. They would have the control of hiring anyone over the age of 18 years old, similar to the way strip clubs are ran. If a customer happens to become infected of any disease, the establishment must be liable for the event. Prostitutes should be taxed as independent contractors. If applicable, a state tax may be enforced as well. Mandatory health checks should be regulated by state officials as well as policing the criminal element of it such as pimping.

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