Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Prostitution (1)

Prostitution has been called the oldest profession, and has even been observed amongst mankind’s closest animal relative, the chimpanzee. Apparently, sometimes female chimps will stick out their hands demanding food from males before copulating. The Bible mentions temple prostitutes. A temple prostitute would dress as a deity and, for a fee, act as a divine sexual manifestation.

All the countries of the modern world deal with prostitution in one of four ways. The most widespread is prohibition, eg China, Russia, most Islamic countries , and the USA (other than some counties of Nevada). The prohibition is evaded in some jurisdictions by prostitutes bribing police, eg Moscow. Otherwise penalties can be severe. Thus the Hollywood madam Heidi Fleisch was sentenced to four years prison under California’s anti-pandering law.

The second, alternative type of prohibition is the Scandinavian or Nordic model which criminalises paying for (though not selling) sex. It has been adopted in Canada, Northern Ireland, Norway and Sweden. In 2014, the French Senate and United Kingdom House of Commons rejected proposals to introduce it. British Members of Parliament were swayed by opposition from feminist groups, who pointed out that enforcement was by police tapping the phones of suspected prostitutes and prosecuting male callers, resulting in such women becoming outcasts.

The third method of state control is allowing prostitution, but keeping it low key by outlawing any activity associated with it ie advertising, brothel-keeping and pimping. France and the United Kingdom have such laws.

Finally, there are the jurisdictions which allow open prostitution in brothels eg Australia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, India, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Turkey. This, however, can be restrictive because independent prostitution conducted away from a brothel is often prohibited.

Whatever control mechanism is adopted, prostitution will always exist because it satisfies a need, at least for males. This is especially the case in countries which have arranged marriages (eg India where 90 per cent are) and places where there is a surplus of males (eg 40 million in China because of the one child policy resulting in widespread female infanticide). Even in the United Kingdom, half of all adult males are unmarried, and many desire a commercial sexual outlet, eg divorcees and widowers.

See also entry for November 14, 2016).

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