Female prostitution is “the most ancient profession in the world”, as Rudyard Kipling wrote an 1889 short story (1). It may even be part of Mankind’s animal instinct, as it has been observed amongst chimpanzees and penguins. Female Adélie penguins sometimes demand pebbles from male nests for their own before mating (2). Similarly, female chimps have been observed sticking their hands out for food from males before copulation (3).
Back in the human kingdom, each jurisdiction legislates on female prostitution in one of four ways: (i) prohibition of sale; (ii) prohibition of purchase; (iii) restriction; (iv) regulation.
(i) Prohibition of sale is the most widespread, existing in mainland China (but not Taiwan), Russia, and the USA (except for eight counties in Nevada). It drives the sex trade underground and criminalises female practitioners.
(ii) Prohibition of purchase - “The Nordic Model/Scandinavian Model” (pioneered by the American radical feminist activist Catherine MacKinnon) bans men from paying women for sex. It has been adopted in Canada, France (2015) and Northern Ireland as well as Norway and Sweden. This model results in suspected prostitutes being placed under police surveillance, and any man contacting them is prosecuted. Such women thus become outcasts, prevented from having a normal social life.
(iii) Restriction is imposed in places such as England, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, and Spain. Prostitution (sale and purchase) is itself lawful, but all associated activities are not, eg advertising, brothel-keeping, organising, pimping and procuring. This allows the activity but makes it very difficult. It is thus self-contradictory!
(iv) Finally there is regulation. ie licensed brothels in recognised “red light” areas. eg in most Australian states, Bangladesh, Belgium, Germany, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Turkey. This system imposes institutionalism in recognised districts and thus discriminates against freelance, sole prostitutes.
There is, of course, also male prostitution (heterosexual and homosexual) - but that is a different story!
Notes And References
(1) On The City Wall, first page.
(2)The Auk by F.M. Hunter and L.S. Davis, (1998), (pages 526-8).
(3) See for example Wild Chimpanzees Exchange Meat for Sex on a Long Term Basis by Cristina M. Gomes and Christophe Boesch, (2009).
(See also entry for September 9, 2015).