Free Term Paper: The Trade of Prostitution
Prostitution means exchange of sex services for money. It is a trade that generates $100billion yearly across the globe (Kovari & Pruyt, 2012, p.1). The factors that shape the trade of prostitution, practices and behaviors towards the trade vary a great deal from one society to the other depending on cultural, social and political structure of the society.
There are countries that legalize the The Trade of Prostitution while other criminalizes it based on assessment of the adverse effects and benefits of legalizing or criminalizing the act. Those who are for criminalization of the practice hold on to the fact that prostitution is immoral and it leads to the spread of venereal diseases. Additionally, the practice is known to increase the rate of related crimes including drug trafficking, rape, violence and human trafficking.
On the other hand those who are for the legalization of prostitution argue that the move will help to ensure that women get proper healthcare to reduce spread of diseases. Decriminalization also offers opportunities for effective protection of commercial sex workers against poor working conditions, violence and rape. The extent to which cultural, economic, political and social factors affect attitudes towards the practice as well as its legal status are discussed with relevance to Nigeria (where prostitution is illegal) and Netherlands (where prostitution is legal).
The main reason for choosing the two countries for prostitution study is based on the difference in legal status of the practice in the Netherlands and Nigeria, which motivates researchers to examine the reasons behind the differences. In Netherlands, prostitution is legitimate and not in Nigeria. By evaluating cultural, economic, political and social settings in relevance to prostitution in the two countries, the different attitudes towards the practice can be explained.
Additionally, the two countries vary a great deal in terms of political, social, cultural and economic factors thus, offering a chance to visualize on the differences on prostitution perceptions. In Netherlands, The Trade of Prostitution is as old as the country itself but it was legalized in 2000 when the ban on 1911 brothels was lifted. New regulations also sought to cub coercion onto the practice, protect kids from child prostitution and encourage sex workers to seek legal assistance, reduce human trafficking rate for the trade and to decriminalize prostitution (Pakes, 2003, p. 2233).
In Netherlands, the trade also occurs in different forms the most common form being window prostitution. This is characterized by women posing in street building windows exposing their goodies to passersby. The other rampant form of prostitution is escorting. The long history of the practice in the country despite many attempts to restrict it suggests that different factors including political, cultural, social and economic conditions could offer an explanation to the endurance of the practice as well as its recent decriminalization.
In Amsterdam’s red-light district, the practice takes place like any other business thanks to the cultural tolerance in the country. In the year 2000, prostitution was legalized in Netherlands but the history of the trade can be traced back to the country’s origin. The Dutch’s are known to have a tolerant attitude towards prostitution and it originates from their belief that criminalization of the act wouldn’t put an end to the business.
For instance, one by law of 1413 stated that sex workers are essential in commercial cities including Amsterdam and therefore, authorities in the cities would not ban brothels (Abrams, 2009, p. 6). Additionally, it seems that the church in the country condoned sex workers. Changes in regulation also took place in the 16th century because of Calvinism influence and later on the Napoleonic era that condemned and banned keeping of brothels.
Even so, the practice survived despite ban of brothel keeping because individual sex workers walked free. Tolerance to the practice in Amsterdam also has its roots traced to the country’s commercial and maritime culture of the 17th century. By mid-17th century, Amsterdam had grown from a small town of 14,000 inhabitants to an economic center of more than 200, 000 people.
Prostitution in the country also thrived naturally as part of the country’s commercial culture because wealthy seamen and merchants were more than willing and capable of paying for the services. Additionally, specific social conditions in the country might have played a very crucial role in encouraging the practice. Amsterdam for example has a history of tolerating immigrants and offering security to minority groups. Many communities in the state including Chinese, Italians, Jews, Huguenots and Germans sought refuge in Amsterdam following the harassment and harsh conditions back home (Abrams, 2009, p. 6).
Today, many of the 170 migrant groups live in Netherlands and the presence of the groups have made it hard for any to stand out and impact others. Compromise and cooperation was therefore the only way to ensure harmony exists and this further enhanced culture of permissiveness and tolerance in Netherlands.
The country condones commercial sex work for economic reasons. In a year, the trade generates $60 million in Amsterdam alone (Abrams, 2009, p. 6). The red light city in the district has also been a major tourist attraction since 17th century. Tourism guide written during the 17th century included a clear definition of what men expected from the city’s whores. Therefore, economic factors at a personal level drive women into the practice.
Many prostitutes in Netherlands are also immigrants from third world countries as they tried escaped poverty. Local Dutch women however complained that immigrant sex workers are destroying their markets because their services are cheaper (Di Nicola, 2009, p. 116). Pragmatism history and tolerance also dominates the political scene in Netherlands.
Even though legalization of the practice became a reality in 2000, the past political regimes implemented laws that forbid the practice but did not strictly enforce the laws. Brothels for instance were banned during the Napoleonic era (1810-1814) and in 1911 but the ban did not prevent the trade from thriving because individual prostitutes did not face any disciplinary measures (Pakes, 2003, p. 225). The permissive stand of Dutch authorities on prostitution is therefore a product of compromise resulting from lack of single party majority.
The government of Netherlands consists of different parties with views that need to be respected in the process of making laws. Absence of dominant political parties also means that the state is never free from influence of parties that were in power in the past regimes and therefore, it cannot significantly deviate from its past policy systems. Therefore, recent prostitution legalization was nothing out of the ordinary because it was just a step to gain control over a practice that was already established.
Nigeria on the other hand is an African country with a population of 140 million people. The Trade of Prostitution is illegal in the country but it is widely practiced in different forms. First of all, brothels are common in major capitals and more especially in slums because of availability of cheap sex (Dalla, 2011, p. 21). Brothel keepers surprisingly are licensed to run their businesses.
Street prostitution is also common and it is characterized with girls taking positions in different street corners in major cities. Interested clients pick the girls, rent a room and carry on with their business in the car. Thirdly, escort prostitution is common and is a more organized way of running the business. The client in escort prostitution calls an escort agency for different specialized services.
In escort prostitution, the sex worker visits the client at his hotel room or home. The other form of prostitution in the country includes male prostitution, campus prostitution and pimping. Cultural, economic, social and political factors just as in Netherlands influence the practice in Nigeria.
Different social factors predispose women in Nigeria to prostitution. Nigerian men for example are valued for having wealth, many wives and children. Barren women face divorce and when divorce occurs, they find it difficult to earn a decent living due to unemployment and as a result, they settle for prostitution (Dalla, 2011, p. 21).
Additionally, female infertility is high in the country due to high infection rate of sexually transmitted diseases from commercial sex work. Inadequate parental support in the country is also a contributing factor to prostitution in the country. female students who are in need of emotional and material support to meet their daily needs for instance proper sanitation to prevent them from settling for prostitution.
University students who already engage in commercial sex work live attractive and expensive lifestyles. Many of them get their friends into the trade because they have to make more cash to take care of their daily and basic needs in campus. In Nigeria, prostitution is known to have started in the colonial period as a result of social transformation that leads to erosion of moral fabric that prevented people from engaging in antisocial behaviors for example commercial sex.
Nigerian culture also allowed elders to reprimand those who practiced premarital sex. Even so, British arrival in early 19th century marked the beginning of cultural degradation leading to aggravated prostitution (Uzorka & Oulu, 2012, p. 184). The lands of locals were also taken over by colonial government thus introducing taxes and slave trade. Western education as a result became the only way in which Africans could get a bright future as employees in the colonial government.
During the 1st and 2nd world wards, men of African origin enrolled in the military to fight for the British. Their families were left with no one to care of them. These activities left many landless women with the task of taking care of their children as well as paying taxes. Women resorted to prostitution to gain money to cater for their expenses. Even so, prostitution existed in different forms before the arrival of colonial powers in Nigeria.
Men kept mistresses for sex outside their formal marriages (Clarke, & Thomas, 2006, p. 218). Children that were born out of improper affairs did not have a place in the family and no inheritance to claim. Many women who became mistresses were however young divorcees or widows with no alternate way of earning a living. Many divorced women failed to give their husbands male children, and ended up in such circumstances as male kids were highly valued in the country.
The scenario depicts patriarchal culture in Nigeria that places men above women in different aspects. Despite the social changes that were highly associated with transformation, Nigerian ladies have remained powerless compared to the men even after gaining independence (Dalla, 2011, p. 21). Forced marriage cases have also been highly witnessed in Nigeria.
A blooming culture of consumerism has also eroded traditional morals creation a generation that would settle for anything to get money including armed robberies, prostitution and drug trafficking. Today in the country, marriages are not held together by traditional norms. Men leave their families and wives in search of wealth in cities.
The abandoned wives, more specifically, many Nigerian women settle for prostitution due to lack of means of earning a decent living. Poverty rate in the country has also increased significantly over the past decade as a result of high unemployment rate amongst the youths including university graduates (Ajayi, 2003, p. 65). Unlike in Netherlands where many immigrants are driven into prostitution by poverty, many Nigerian ladies are poor in their homeland and engage in the practice to feed their children.
However, prostitutes in the country fall into two categories based on lifestyle and the prices. First, the sophisticated prostitutes are college students or graduates who are in need of a good amount of money to meet their expensive lifestyles. The group therefore targets rich business officials as well as government leaders.
The second group is the lower class prostitutes who need just good money to take care of the daily expenses including food, clothing and shelter. Therefore, the group has a lower bargaining power. They include the divorced, homeless women and girls from rural areas who lack means of survival and education.
The two groups of prostitutes are similar to those in Netherlands based on the fact that they are classified as per economic status. Even so, they differ because many local Dutch women do not engage in the practice as a means of survival in Netherlands. The political system in Nigeria also plays a crucial in prostitution by neglecting the plight of women and ignores other social conditions forcing women into prostitution.
Women also have little or no influence in Nigeria’s political arena which reflects the Nigerian patriarchal culture typically, placing men at the center of authority (Ogundiya, Olutayo, & Amzat, 2011, p. 240). Lack of women participation in party-political leadership also means that when it comes to the place of women in the society, nothing much has changed. Women are still considered vulnerable to social issues including unemployment and divorce as they were in the past century.
Politics indeed is seen as a dirty game that women cannot engage in unless there are commercial workers. The negative perception of prostitution that has been quite prevalent in Nigeria since pre-colonial era continues to legal position of the practice in the country. Nigeria is nowhere near making the practice legitimate based on the fact that by doing so, women would be protected from abuse and they will access better healthcare. Such benefits are not aligned with women discrimination culture.
Just like Dutch authorities, Nigerian authorities have their own reasons or making prostitution illegal, one of the reasons being reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The rate at which sexually transmitted diseases spread in African countries is still high especially amongst sex workers (Okwara, 2011, para 3).
Anti-prostitution laws have failed to manage the practice and even so, African governments still face a lot of resistance whenever they try to make prostitution legal because of the vibrant campaign by non-governmental and governmental organizations involved in anti-HIV/AIDS crusades. What’s more, an African country that aims at legalizing the practice needs to overcome the belief that the practice is an unacceptable and immoral behavior especially in Nigeria where Islam, Christianity and tradition customs are tied on the aspect.
Such factors are not common in Netherlands where prostitution is seen as part of the country’s culture where people engage in voluntarily. Criminalizing prostitution in Nigeria however has nothing to prevent the practice. Maybe the government should consider more influence on cultural, economic and social factors that enhance the practice including gender inequality, influence of media and unemployment to help reduce the practice.
Many theorists have tried to explain the practice from different perspectives including economic, sociological, psychological and biological point of views. The more convincing theories that will be briefly discussed are economic and sociological theories. Modern sociologists also believe that the practice is highly associated with the cultural and social structure of the society.
Functionalism protagonists including Kingsley Davis also believe that the practice serves as a significant and a unique part in the community by serving the unattended needs of women and men (Flowers, 2011, p. 30). Such needs crop up from social factors that render many men and women unable to satisfy their sexual desires in traditional marriage affiliations.
For instance, men who work far from their families and need temporary sex source engage in the practice. Others are those who are in broken relationships that do not satisfy their sexual needs making prostitution a way of controlling sexual desire. Economic theorists including Winick and Kinsie believer that monetary values associated with the practice is mainly the greatest motivation behind the trade (Flowers, 2011, p. 30).
Sex trade in this sense can be seen as an alternate income source. The economic model derives from economic and social difficulties that influence women to consider prostitution as a way of survival. Lemert on the other hand believes that women try to gain control and power using men because men need it. Economic theorists also believe that women sell sex for different reasons. First women in unskilled jobs never have an opportunity to earn decent salaries compared to those in skilled employment but prostitution can be quite rewarding to them.
Secondly, the practice is a preferred job for low skilled ladies because it offers adventure and independence. Thirdly, the role of women in sex is well defined across the globe thus, making prostitution easy to sell. Lastly, the trade offers women an opportunity to make money and lead the lifestyle that they couldn’t afford in normal working conditions (Flowers, 2011, p. 31).
Both sociological and economic concepts can help describe prostitution on an international level. The high prevalence of the trade in developed nations such as Netherlands and developing countries such as Nigeria despite its illegal status. The economic model that views prostitution as a way of earning a living can be more clear and practical in impoverished nations such as Nigeria.
Even so, social role is additionally relevant in explaining the trade in Nigeria because it is partly as a result of social factors including broken marriages, poverty and unemployment. Economic and Sociological theories can also be used to explain the practice in Netherlands. Many locals and immigrants also engage in prostitution to make a living and to succeed economically.
What’s more, Amsterdam is a major attraction in the country and many men touring in absence of their wives would be more than willing to pay prostitutes to satisfy their sexual desires. Social needs including unmet sexual desires are common across the globe and it explains why the practice is a global issue.
Based on such observations, I strongly believe that neither criminalization nor legalization of The Trade of Prostitution could help manage it. Governments should instead manage economic, cultural and social factors that enhance prostitution as well as crimes associated with it to reduce its negative impact.
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