The Crime of Prostitution
Prostitution is considered the oldest profession in the world. There are accounts of this crime in all parts of the world with references to it in most cultures; even the Bible has accounts of prostitution (Christian Growth Study Bible,1997). Prostitution isn't illegal all over the world but it is in most U.S. states. It is considered to be immoral, a crime against women, and many other things.
The sex industry is a very old profession. It is managed by prostitutes, pimps, and the johns (the customers for sex). It is considered a victimless crime, even though some would disagree after viewing the quality of life and abuse that is evident in prostitution. Many times the prostitutes are beaten by pimps and raped by johns. Most prostitutes do not even get the money that they earn. It is criminal because of its offensiveness to others and it can hurt business owners that have establishments near them.
It is also damaging to the moral fiber of our society.
Indiana criminal code refers to prostitution as being when a person knowingly or intentionally performs, offers, or agrees to perform Sexual intercourse or deviate sexual conduct or fondles, offers, or agrees to fondle the genitals of another. It is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor or a Class D felony if the person has two prior convictions for prostitution(Indiana Criminal Code) (Sic) . Prostitution is criminalized by most other states under the same type of code.
There are different views on the problem of prostitution. One point of view that says the problem lies with the prostitutes. Other people say the clients of prostitution are to blame and that the prostitutes are victims. Some say that the government should not intervene with prostitution because it is a personal matter.
One type of prostitution is street prostitution. Street prostitution makes up about 10-20 percent of all prostitution (Meyer,1997). This type of prostitution is simple to understand because it is how many people view prostitutes. They think of prostitution as a woman on a corner soliciting johns for sex. This is street prostitution. Street prostitution varies with the type of prostitute, their commitment to prostitution, the market, the community's tolerance etc.
One problem with street prostitution is public health. There is the use of drugs among prostitutes that may lead to the improper discardment of syringes. There is also the probability of used condoms that are simply thrown on the ground. Prostitutes can also stem the spread of AIDS, syphilis, and other potentially deadly STD's. The public health is not the only health issue in prostitution.
The personal problems that result from prostitution are potentially deadly as well. About 80% of women in prostitution reported being a victim of rape (Farley 2001). They are raped and/ or beaten by pimps and johns. They are treated as property and abused physically and mentally. This happens to many prostitutes and not those just involved in street prostitution.
Another type of prostitution is the "Media prostitute" with this type the women are lured into the sex industry by manipulating them with fame and fortune and then coercing them into the lower levels of sex entertainment (McWilliams 1996). They use the women to create pornographic fantasies for others. Generally the media pimps have a lot of money and own magazines and produce television shows. Pornography is the easiest way to view and understand this level of prostitution and is very widespread.
The final type of prostitution is business level prostitution (Farley 1998-2001). This type of prostitution is run by taking profits from the sex industry with a low risk of public exposure or criminal prosecution.
Business level prostitution is usually run through business men who own bars and strip clubs, adult bookstores, massage parlors, motels, and legal brothels. These businesses can attract the right clientele. They offer jobs as dancers and hostesses to vulnerable young women.
The business level pimps separate themselves from the "dirty workers" of the sex trade. They treat prostitutes as independent contractors thus separating themselves from the workers. They avoid taxes, health benefits etc. to the workers and are legally protected if one of them gets arrested.
The prostitute is subjected to a terrible life; usually coerced or forced into it they often times are physically and emotionally destroyed. The sex industry focuses on young women, usually around 13 years of age. They come from families that are abusive disorganized or non-existent. When the families are poor or part of a de-valued minority group, and job opportunity is limited some members of the family are willing to take risks. If the young people are being beaten or sexually abused by their own family they will take their chances on the street. The opportunity of prostitution maybe more desirable than no job at all. The prostitute is often times taken into this but other problems then begin to occur.
The pimp basically claims some sort of ownership over these girls. For the most part there is little research knowledge about pimps. They keep very low profiles and usually only expose themselves as pimps to other pimps. The pimp is not typically what is portrayed in the media. In street prostitution especially, the pimp is close to the same age as the prostitute and of the same gender (French 1988). Prostitutes are reluctant to talk about their pimps and this makes it difficult for police to make cases against them. Successful prosecution is rare. Pimps recruit and socialize prostitutes into the prostitution subculture by appealing to their desire for money and what they believe will be a glamorous and exciting lifestyle. Pimps seldom procure clients because clients do not want to deal with anyone but the prostitute. Pimps do not offer much protection against violence against prostitutes by clients but do offer some sort of protection against violence by other pimps. Pimps use violence and drug dependency to control prostitutes. By some estimates pimps may take 60-70% of the prostitute's money (French 1988).
The use of drugs among prostitutes is a big problem as well. Pimps can easily hook the prostitute on crack or heroin and then they become trapped in the lifestyle because they depend on the pimp can fuel their need for such drugs. Often time's pimps are dealing drugs along with selling sex. Sometimes the women will even turn to prostitution to fuel a continuing drug habit that she needs money for to support. Often times the price for intercourse or oral sex is driven down if a prostitute's drug habit is involved but it also increases the likelihood of the prostitute robbing the client. Pimps can take control over prostitutes very easily when drug habits are involved.
The john is the client who pays for sex or sexual favors from the prostitute. They are attracted to the illicit nature of the encounter, desire for varieties of sex, and they view sex as a commodity or maybe they don't desire a conventional relationship. A client's decision to buy a prostitute comes from the availability of prostitutes in the area, access to money, where to find the prostitute, and the risk of getting caught or getting a disease.
About 10-20% of men say that they have paid for sex in the past, however only 1% say they do it on a regular basis (Scott 2001).
Johns are sometimes drawn to prostitutes on the basis of fulfilling fantasy. Most commonly the john is a regular guy who may even have empathy for the sex worker he uses. However, this empathy does not extend to discontinuing the behavior. He does not truly care about the prostitute and views her as an object there to meet his desires. Often johns are respectable individuals in society and work to protect that appearance.
There are, however, the sadists. These are the johns that take pleasure in other peoples fear, pain, or humiliation. The sadist can vary from someone who makes you feel bad to someone committing a torturous murder. Sadists are attracted to prostitutes because prostitutes are individuals who will get into a car or come to a place where the sadist can be control. Sadism is about control. Hurting people who cannot stop them is their most intense and pleasurable control. There are certain pimps who specialize in supplying prostitutes to sadists. The fees of these pimps are based off the amount of damage done to the victim. Sadists can be found in all levels of society, they usually keep their sick pleasures a secret.
One last type of client is the child molester. Many times a child molester will take his/her sick sexual motivations out on their own children or close family. However there are the few who decide to act on these motivations, thorough prostitution. The pimps for these children have fees according to the Childs age and amount of damage the child has already incurred. Child prostitution is a larger problem in some foreign countries. There is a market for even adults dressed up as small children both for direct sex and pornography. However the truth is in the fees: real children sell for more than fake ones. It is quite easy for a pimp of these young children to get out of prosecution; they just claim they didn't know the child's age. There are many types of johns and the list goes on and on.
The history of prostitution in the United States is as old as the country itself. It came to the states in the 1700's to cities like Boston and New York. Many soldiers were stationed there. In the early 1800's prostitution became a political and social problem. It rose due to rapid urbanizations, expanding male population, low female wages, and discrimination against women. During this time prostitution could be categorized into three categories: women who did it for the money, the second was a "sporting male" group encouraged to buy prostitutes, and the third was brothels. Hundreds of brothels could be found in St.Louis, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Prostitution has been around for thousands of years. There are accounts of it in the Christian bible and ancient Greeks used to perform sex with temple maidens as a form of worship. The U.S. had a very widespread prostitution problem (Farley 1998-2001).
There was not an effort to combat this problem in the U.S. till the early 1900's. In1910 the Mann Act was passed to fight prostitution. It forbade the interstate and international transportation of women for immoral purposes under penalty. Within five years most of the states in the union had some sort of legislation that forbade the use of brothels or the profiting off of prostitutes. During World War I there was an increase in sexually transmitted diseases along with the increase of prostitution. Due to the increase of prostitution near military bases congress passes the May Act which made it a federal offense to practice prostitution in areas designated by the secretaries of the Army and Navy. Today all states except Nevada have laws forbidding the operating a house of prostitution. Most states forbid all types of prostitution but generally only prosecute the prostitute and not the customer. There are a few organizations that exist today to prevent prostitution, they are: The Society for the Prevention of Crime, The Committee of Fourteen, the National Vigilance Association, and the American Social Hygiene Association.
The National Vigilance Association was the first organization formed due to legislation against public immorality. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the contagious disease acts and prostitution brought about the issue of trafficking of women. I order to achieve this immediate aim and support any other future changes to the law deemed necessary, The National Vigilance Association was formed in August 1885 "for the enforcement and improvement for the laws of criminal vice and public immorality". All local vigilance committees, and any other organizations with congruent aims, were to affiliate this new body while in turn the central body was to stimulate the formation of other vigilance committees.
There have been many proposed solutions to prostitution. They range from abolition of laws, decriminalization, and stricter enforcement. It is generally proposed and often used to create a multi-agency attack on the crime. Cities need to include the local police departments, sheriff, judges, prosecutors, and an all inclusive attack to stop the crime by using all necessary means possible.
In responding to street prostitution it is important not to limit the discussion to relying on police and calling on them to do more. Each local circumstance is different. One needs to consider what the local community can do to respond to the problem and what they can do to help the police.
Strategies that focus solely on arresting the prostitute are seldom effective. The strategy to reduce the harm caused by prostitution rather than eliminating prostitution is more likely to succeed. At best prostitutes and the client both must be arrested to do this. The strategy must not only get prostitutes off the street and stop their offensive behavior but also give them viable alternatives, either to get them off the streets or even conduct their business in a less offensive locations, times, or ways. This requires the cooperation of the police and various service organizations.
First, their needs to be an enforcement of laws that aim to prohibit the soliciting, patronizing, and loitering for the purposes of prostitution. To do this the police may be required to go undercover. This is used to get an inside foothold but officers must be careful not to cross the line into entrapment. The laws to stop soliciting for prostitution are difficult but necessary to enforce because this will stop prostitution even before the act of or even money has been exchanged. Another way to enforce the laws is to have intensive arrest campaigns for prostitution and for the clients. These campaigns maybe short in length but increase the chances of being arrested and ultimately being the clients and prostitutes in to the criminal justice system.
Secondly is to establish a highly visible police presence. This will work; even though it may be expensive it should be used until a more effective method is utilized. Private security forces are a secondary option to paying for or providing more police.
The third solution is to increase punishment and fines for prostitution in high-activity zones. This is used commonly in street prostitution because this will force the prostitutes to leave these certain areas so they can be redeveloped. Jurisdictions using this method should be careful so that the prostitution is not moved to another area where the problem is already bad.
Last but not least in fighting prostitution is to have the community get involved. Encouraging community members to publicly protest against prostitutes or clients can deem effective. Utilizing marches or demonstrations that are anit-prostitution are effective. This method is intended to intimidate prostitutes and clients, and to demonstrate the communities resolve against prostitution. Educating the population of high-risk prostitutes and clients is helpful to deter these people who are in danger of this lifestyle to make a decision away form it.
Determining what causes prostitution is a well researched matter. The issue of child abuse, unemployment, higher standard of living and concentration of government programs, and other activities has been attributed to prostitution. Many times a prostitute is a young woman down on their luck that is solicited by a person to join such a lifestyle. The pimp glamorizes the lifestyle and lies to make the person interested in it. The woman is then abused physically and emotionally and becomes trapped in the lifestyle. They are demoralized and under the belief they are worthless. It is true that some people voluntarily get involved in prostitution but these people also have had the image glamorized in their minds. Children who have been sexually abused and have a skewed view of sexuality and being human are likely to enter such a lifestyle. The factors are usually very accurate of what makes a prostitute.
In conclusion, prostitution is not a new issue in society. The United States has chosen to make it a crime but other countries run the sex industry through the government. It is a battle that has been fought for thousands of years. The crime is not as black and white as stealing or murdering. Prostitution can be a lucrative living for some women but for others it is the demise of their humanity and can lead to them being treated as animals and possibly death. It is hard to say if it is clearly right or wrong but the question will remain for some time.