Revisiting Prostitution In a Judgemental Society

Opinion

Prostitution in all it many definitions simply means exchanging sex for money or gains. The most important thing in the definition is the payment. This means that, once sex is exchanged as commodity, it is prostitution.

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Living in Ikeja made me familiar with the sight of prostitutes lining up the streets of Allen roundabouts – arguably Lagos hottest pick up spot for paid sex.

Personally, I have no problem with prostitutes. It is not the easiest of decisions. Like they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. As a matter of fact, I feel it should be legalized so that victims of abuse and rape among them can be protected. Another added advantage is that they can be taxed.

For many and especially those of conservative religious views believe that prostitution is immoral because it involves sex for money and they consider it a sign of society’s moral decay. For this reason, they believe prostitution should remain illegal and even prefer stricter enforcement of laws against prostitution.

It is known that today prostitution is widely spread. It can be found practically in every country. In most countries of the developing world, prostitution is the result of poverty, unemployment, lack of control. In some countries prostitution is legal and regulated by the law, while in other countries prostitution is illegal and is not regulated. For example in China, the spread of prostitution is connected with such factors as economic problems, increased organized crime rate, and government corruption. In the majority of African countries prostitution is caused by poverty and social breakdown, and it is illegal. Sex tourism is widely spread in such countries as Egypt, Morocco, Uganda, etc. In Asia, child prostitution is widely spread, but it is illegal. However, in practice prostitution is regulated, for example, in Thailand. The most common system which legalizes prostitution is in the European Union. In Netherlands, United Kingdom and France, prostitution is legal and regulated by the government. In the USA, the state of Nevada is the only state that allows prostitution in some of its counties. In addition, it is found that “throughout the world, efforts have been made to suppress, control, organize or discourage prostitution, with varying degrees of success

Our society is too judgemental. People won’t help you but they are full of advice when all you need is bread. You don’t advise a hungry child not to steal, you feed him. Under Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, at the bottom of the pyramid, we have the basic which is Physiological Needs which entails breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and excretion. Next on the pyramid is Safety which entails security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health and property. Those who venture into prostitution do not have the luxury of these basic necessity of life nor do they dare to dream in a society that constantly turns it back on her on the tide of untrustworthy government. In the words of Senator Barack Obama (as he then was) speaking at the University of Nairobi in 2006, “In the end, if the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare, all else is lost and that is why the struggle against corruption is one of the great struggles of our time.

Our society is too judgemental rather than sympathetic despite prostitution taking place at various levels in many subtle forms. Nobody grew up hoping to become a sex pot. Those who life smiled on deem it fit to act as moral compass over the lives of prostitutes as though prostitution is a new variety of sin. Society, Culture, Relegion all advote for abstinence until marriage but everyone is having sex. Yet only those who get paid for it are vilified. Society and government must address those root problems and above all treat prostitutes as human beings with the same rights as anyone else, not as social pariahs unworthy of our care and attention.

Street walkers also known as street prostitutes are at the receiving end of these stigma but we ignore the fact that they are rational human beings making choices, selecting from an extremely limited range of options, alternatives of unpleasantness. Funny that many fail to realise is that they make up only one-fifth of all prostitutes. Yet when prostitution is mentioned, everyone cocks their ears and focus their gaze in their direction.

Prostitution in all it many definitions simply means exchanging sex for money or gains. The most important thing in the definition is the payment. This means that, once sex is exchanged as commodity, it is prostitution. Since we know that, let us check out other categories of people who do the same thing but like Mandela enjoy the long walk to freedom.

Call Girls work as independent operators in their homes or fairly fancy hotels and charge a lot of money for their services, which include sex but also talking and dining. Their clients are typically businessmen or other wealthy individuals. In the US, many call girls earn between $200 and $500 per hour, and some earn between $1,000 and $6,000 per hour or per session.

Escorts work for escort agencies, which often advertise heavily in phone books and on the Internet. They may operate out of an apartment rented by their agency or come to a client’s hotel room or other location. Although they may actually act as an escort to a dinner or show, typically their services include sexual acts. They, too, are generally well paid for their work, but do not earn nearly as much as call girls because they have to give at least 30 percent of their earnings to their agency

We also have the Brothels workers. These are prostitutes who work in brothels. Workers in these brothels pay income tax. Because their employers require regular health exams and condom use, the risk of sexually transmitted disease in Nevada’s brothels is low.

Massage parlor workers, as their name also implies, work in massage parlors. Many massage parlors, of course, involve no prostitution at all, and are entirely legal. However, some massage parlors are in fact fronts for prostitution, where the prostitute masturbates a man and brings him to what is often termed a “happy ending.”

Bar or Casino workers also exist for this purpose. They make contact with a customer in these settings and then have sex with them elsewhere.

Many of the problems associated with ‘prostitution’ are actually concentrated in street prostitution and much less evident in the indoor sector. In particular, many streetwalkers are exploited or abused by pimps, use heroin or other drugs, and are raped, robbed, and/or beaten by their clients. A good number of streetwalkers also began their prostitution careers as runaway teenagers and were abused as children.

There is a category that nobody talks about. Ironically, these form a large part of the judgemental lots. Many examples abound in this category.

* the student who offers her body for good grades

*the worker who offers her body for promotion

*the ladies who date guys with money and end every sex with cash demand or have sex with a promise of financial reward.

*the ladies who have sugar daddies

* ladies on dating site who are strictly there for hookups or “mature minds only”

I am sure you can list many examples. I call this category the corporate prostitutes only because it appears normal and nobody bashes them. These are even bold and open about their lifestyle and appears to be the highest beneficiaries in the sex pool but can’t publicly say what they do. These are those with the logic that if they must sell their body then they must sell it big.

Fact says if you’re getting paid, you a hoe!

I’m not here to shame anyone or make anyone feel less of themselves. On the contrary, I’m here for the judgemental lots who do the same thing. Nobody should demean another human who took on the indignity of standing by the way side to make a living for her myself and those she is responsible for while you do same in secret on another level or belong to the category of those who pay for sex. Remove the log in your eyes. If you must shame sex workers, please do to all and not just to those on the street. The shit is the same, it is the toilet that is different.

Interestingly, there are various schools of thoughts addressing prostitution.

Functionalist theorists believe that prostitution exists because it serves several important functions for society generally and for certain people in society. As we have already mentioned, it provides a source of income for many women who otherwise might be jobless, and it provides a sexual alternative for men with (1) the desire to have sex with someone with a certain physical appearance (age, race, body type); (2) the lack of a sexual partner or dissatisfaction with a sexual partner, including a desire to have unconventional sex that the partner does not share; (3) the thrill of having sex with a prostitute; and (4) the desire to have sex without having to make an emotional commitment.

According to Conflict Theorist, prostitution reflects the economic inequality in society. Many poor women feel compelled to become prostitutes because of their lack of money; because wealthier women have many other sources of income, the idea of becoming a prostitute is something they never have to consider. Sad but interesting historical support for this view comes from an increase in prostitution in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many women lost husbands and boyfriends in the war and were left penniless. Lacking formal education and living in a society that at the time offered few job opportunities to women, many of these bereaved women were forced to turn to prostitution to feed their families and themselves.

Feminist version of conflict theory is of the position that prostitution results not only from women’s poverty but also from society’s patriarchal culture that still views men as the dominant figure in heterosexual relationships and that still treats women as “sex objects” who exist for men’s pleasure. In such a culture, it is no surprise and even inevitable that men will want to pay for sex with a woman and that women will be willing to be paid for sex. In this feminist view, the oppression and exploitation that prostitution inherently involves reflects the more general oppression and exploitation of women in the larger society.

Why are we so castigating of sex workers (I mean the street prostitutes) when they engage in consensual sex only because they are paid? At least, they are honest about their profession. It is also ridiculous that we castigate the prostitutes but we don’t do same to their customers. If my economics is right, an increase in demand will always lead to an increase in supply. As long as men exist, sex will sell. If you ask me, better men pay for sex than rape our women. During the world cup in South Africa in 2010, Brazil exported thousands of sex workers who had a swell purse during the show piece. Who paid for the sex or were the prostitutes having sex with themselves? Maybe if prostitution is legalized like it is in Europe, our judgemental lots won’t have to hide when prostituting at corporate levels only to come on social media to drop motivational speeches and fervent scripture. Please be true to yourself – you have only one heart!

Rather than judging behind your keyboard, make effort at saving lives. The street prostitutes are the worst drench of the harsh elements of life. Research suggests that, under the right conditions, legal prostitution can be organized in a way that increases workers’ health, safety, and job satisfaction. Mandatory condom use and other safe-sex practices are typical in legal brothels, and the workers face much lower risk of abuse from customers.

According to Melissa Farley, solutions to prostitution must be rooted in the understanding that prostitution is violence against women and girls. It is clear that this fact must be understood by any member of human society. Moreover, it must be included in the public policy and implemented in public healthcare, mental health services centers, homeless shelters, etc. It is very important to understand that prostitution is a crime against humanity.

Melissa Farley states that public ignorance about prostitution and deliberate misinformation can create obstacles for those women who are involved in prostitution, as “they are blamed to remain in violent relationships” . She suggests that prostitution as a serious social problem must be solved by all members of our society, including government, citizens, organizations, etc. Such types of prostitution as “pornography, strip clubs, massage parlors, saunas, escort services, live sex shows, peep shows, trafficking, phone sex, ritual abuse, mail order bride services, prostitution tourism, and street prostitution” should be controlled by the law. Moreover, it would be better to develop special programs for prostituted girls and women, which will be used to address the multiple problems and needs of women involved in this occupation, including housing problems, psychotherapy assistance, physical healthcare problems, education, job training and placement, help with food, clothing, disabilities, and treatment for alcohol/drug abuse. Melissa Farley states that these programs need to be culturally sensitive to language, race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation and nationality.

In closing, to try to lower or halt the practice of prostitution, we need to warn women against solicitors and stop them, in order to encounter the demand for prostitution. Men, are usually the buyers of commercial sex acts, and the biggest consumers, of trafficked and prostituted women and children. Men do not respect prostitutes, but use them for entertainment, sexual gratification, acts of violence, and use them to meet their emotional needs, not their physical needs. In order to reduce victims of prostitution, and encounter the exploitation of women, all the components of the demand need to be punished; the men who purchase the sex acts, the exploiters, traffickers, pimps, and the culture that lies about the nature of prostitution because sex will sell as long as there are men.

N.B

I didn’t include sex in relationships or random sex because it ain’t prostitution if you aren’t getting paid. However, don’t feel to righteous or too compelled to judge prostitutes if you aren’t helping them. Last time I checked the holy books and “our cultural ethics”, you shouldn’t be having sex if you aren’t married. Amen somebody? How convenient it is for culture to be hypocritical!

Like Poussey Washington said in the serie “Orange is the New Black”, Love is just sex without the money shot!

I know there are male prostitutes and heck, most guys would be glad to be paid for sex but they were intentionally excluded. This was was women who are the primary victims of prostitution.

Lastly, to every woman who is sexually abused – domestic, professional and corporate, we do not see you but we know you exist. Stay strong. You won’t have to walk alone!

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