Review of Related Literature

Topics: Prostitution, Sex industry, Sexual intercourse Pages: 11 (3643 words) Published: March 10, 2013


Prostitution is defined as an act or practice of rendering sexual service in exchange for immediate payment in terms of money or other valuables. It is one of the branches of the sex industry. It is estimated that the annual revenue generated from global prostitution industry is over $100 billion. It is a very old and universal phenomenon, and even oftentimes referred to as “the world’s oldest profession.” Despite its universality, the legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being permissible but unregulated, to a punishable crime, or to a regulated profession.

"Prostitute" is derived from the Latin prostituta. Some sources cite the verb as a composition of "pro" meaning "up front" or "forward" and "situere", defined as "to offer up for sale". Another explanation is that "prostituta" is a composition of pro and statuere (to cause to stand, to station, place erect). A literal translation therefore is: "to put up front for sale" or "to place forward". The online Etymology Dictionary states, "The notion of 'sex for hire' is not inherent in the etymology, which rather suggests one 'exposed to lust' or sex 'indiscriminately offered.'”

The person who renders sexual services and receives the payment is called a prostitute or sex worker. The word "prostitute" was then carried down through various languages to the present-day Western society. Most sex worker activists groups reject the word "prostitute" and since the late 1970s have used the term "sex worker" instead. However, a "sex worker" can also mean anyone who works within the sex industry or whose work is of a sexual nature and is not limited solely to prostitutes. They vary from either engaging in heterosexual or homosexual activity, and their kind of prostitution occurs in a variety of forms.

The establishments dedicated for prostitution are called brothels. They are often confined to special red-light districts in big cities. Other names for brothels include bordello, whorehouse, cathouse, knocking shop, and general houses. Prostitution also occurs in some massage parlors, and in Asian countries in some barber shops where sexual services may be offered as a secondary function of the premises.

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 13–14 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 omnipresent—transcending 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...
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