A summary of prostitution
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A summary of prostitution



art prost brefThere is no official definition for prostitution. The most successful is the fact of freeing the sex and body to another against money. However, it could also be against goods such as shelter, gifts, food, or in exchange of admission into a group.

It is also to merchandize in a legal or illegal way services and/or sex products and of exploiting the human body, in particular, that of women and children with a lucrative purpose. It is also a system that organizes the exploitation and appropriation of the body of women, children, and more frequently, of men.

Prostitution has multiple faces : they are victims of exploitation and networks, mothers in precarious situations, young female students, children, men….who prostitute themselves on the street, on the internet, in bars, in saunas or massage parlors, on the side of highways…The circumstances are diverse. Yet, no matter the political, economic or cultural context, they are all linked to one phenomenon : sexual exploitation. From Paris to New York, from Calcutta to Marrakech, from Kiev to Bangkok, it is the same reality and the same threats that are at play.


A Universe of Violence

Prostitution is a violent world, a world « where one must always be on guard, where one learns to live with fear, and therefore fear becomes a form of functioning » declare prostitutes. The danger is constant. Violence, under all of its forms, from insult to the worst physical aggression, can intervene at any moment and come from anybody: a pedestrian, another prostitute, a youth gang, a client, a procurer…

Canadian researchers have demonstrated that prostitutes run between 60 and 120 times more risk of being beaten or murdered than the general public They also show that prostitutes have a mortality rate 40 times higher than that of the national average.. In an Australian study (where prostitution is legal), 81% of respondents declared having been sexually abused during the practice of their activity. At Glasgow, 94% of interrogated street prostitutes had been subjected to a sexual aggression, 75% had been raped by a client.

The fear of reprisal, threats against family, the weight of reimbursing the debt, the permanent monitoring and control are all stress elements available by traffickers and procurers. From the client's side, the pressure or craftiness used in order to obtain non-protected relations, or not to pay(or to pay a lower sum than the one agreed on) is also a form of aggression towards the prostitute.

To these horrible treatments, tortures and psychological violence coming from procurers or clients, a more symbolic violence can be added: the stigmatization and contempt inflicted by society.


Nowadays, prostitution is a trans-national phenomenon. They are the flows of humans going from one country to another, or from one continent to another in order to be prostituted or buy sex.

Women, children, and men pushed by distress and the hope of a better life, leave their country of origin and fall into the hands of traffickers who exploit them in the four corners of the world. For example, at Cambodia, prostitutes come from China, Vietnam, but also Eastern Europe. Australia, considered as a renowned center of Asian prostitution, offers women originating from Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, and China. Canada receives victims coming from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Eastern Europe. In France, in 2011, the dismantling of about forty crime networks in Paris, Caen, Bordeaux and Strasbourg allowed to save Colombian, Chinese, Ecuadorian, Nigerian, and Romanian victims.

Due to the development of numerous technologies, the prostitution mechanisms dematerialize. From now on, soliciting happens through cell phones, social networks serve as meeting spaces for paid sex; the transport of victims throughout the world happens through the systematic use of digital exchanges.


Globalized, prostitution has become an economic market. A "blooming" market : according to estimates, the sex industry revenue will surpass 1.5 billion € ($2 billion USD) in Greece (about 0.7ù of the country's GDP), more than 2 billion € ($2.7 billion USD) in Russia and up to 18 billion € ($24.8 billion USD) in Spain...

Far from being part of a parallel economy, prostitution revenues rain down upon the whole society. Diverse environments benefit : travel agencies, bars and hotels, taxis, but also publicists, press owners, website producers, diverse media.... In 2011, in Germany, Bonn, after Frankfurt and Cologne, proposed the taxation of prostitution, the "sex tax" returns between 800,000 € and 1 million € ($1.1 million USD and $1.3 million USD) to the city of Cologne.

Prostitution, the business world, and power also maintain complex relationships, which the news in 2011 constantly reminded. Whether it was the Carlton case in Lille, where, under anarchy, involves Dominique Strauss-Kahn and one of the first French construction companies. Or, in Italy, the Silvio Berlusconi trial for child prostitution. There was also the "sex" scandal that broke out in Germany in 2011, splashing the insurance world: a very famous insurance company rewarded its best employees by offering them sex orgies.

The countries' efforts that would change this trend, encounter great difficulties. Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Argentina, in particular, fight against sexual ads published on websites or in the press. Reports have been made, bills have been considered or adopted. However, these measures face strong oppositions. In Spain, the government is reluctant to settle the dispute and in the United States, Craiglist's ads platform, closed in 2010 due to the increase in sexual offers, were moved to another website, which is now considered as the largest forum for child sex trafficking.



No matter where, it is always the youngest, whether children or young adults, that are the most affected from the developments in prostitution. Nowadays, the phenomenon affects countries in South East Asia, Europe and North America.

The United States discovered the alarming child prostitution raging in several of its states; Germany and the Netherlands fight against the significant development of child exploitation under the control of "loverboys"; in India, luxury prostitution has become a true high-tech business organized by young IT professionals who exploit adolescents and students; in Poland, an alarming number of adolescents prostitute themselves in big shopping centers in order to buy consumer goods....

Society trivializes this phenomenon by embellishing it with charming nicknames and a shimmering and glamorous image. One talks about sugarbabies, sugardaddies....The young Zahia, who made headlines because of her paid relations with one of the soccerplayers in the French national team, is now considered as the "Cinderella of modern times" and an icon! These forms of euphemism only serve as disguises for the reality of this phenomenon: the "loverboy" is a procurer that acts as a boyfriend to better exploit young girls; the sugarbaby is a very young girl kept by a mature man (or woman), who finances her tuition, housing, daily life... (in Poland, one prefers to designate this type of prostitution by the more entrepeneurial term of "sponsoring"!)

For adolescents, sex becomes another type of currency exchange : they "barter" sex for a designer item, drugs....Is it actually surprising? They were nourished by pornography, grew up in societies that are bombarded by images that portray women as a sexual object. In this context, commercial sex is trivialized and prostitution appears more and more as a possible resort, without consequences and almost "natural" in order to obtain a good or money.



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The Scelles Foundation in the press

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