Prostitution is the act of providing sexual conduct in exchange for money or other form of compensation. Typically, it includes street solicitation, running a brothel and pimping.
In many countries, sex workers are forced to work in dangerous conditions, are more likely to be subjected to physical and sexual violence, and are less likely to report abuse to the police. This creates a cycle of violence that is driven underground.
Procuring for Prostitution
Procuring for prostitution is the act of attempting to induce or encourage a person to sell sexual services. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment in NSW.
A procurer, colloquially called a pimp (if male) or a madam (if female), collects part of a prostitute’s earnings, usually in return for advertising services, physical protection or for monopolizing a location where the prostitute may solicit clients. The legality of certain actions taken by a pimp or a madam vary from region to region.
Procuring can take many forms, ranging from the purely legal to the abusive. For instance, madams/pimps often punish clients for physical abuse or failure to pay, and enforce exclusive rights to a place where their prostitutes can advertise and operate with less competition. This has led to a decrease in sex workers’ incentive to report abuse for fear of self-incrimination and an increase in their motivation to seek any physical protection from clients or law enforcement that a pimp or madam might provide.
Third-Party Involvement in Prostitution
In many countries, prostitution laws criminalize the involvement of third parties (such as venues owners or managers, security, receptionists, bookkeepers, advertisers, webhosts, drivers, and others) in the purchase or offering of sex. Such criminalisation primarily targets the demand side of prostitution, but some policies wholly or partially criminalize the procurement for or selling of sex (Sanders 2008; Skilbrei & Holmstrom 2013; Weitzer 2012).
These criminalizations are often accompanied by legal strategies that focus on polarising representations of exploitative third parties and victimised sex workers, limiting sex workers’ agency to seek out supportive labour conditions or their participation in seeking such supports. This results in a situation where the sale of sex remains legal but clients and third parties are criminalised, which may restrict protective supports and exacerbate health inequities among im/migrant sex workers and those in in-call venues. This end-demand legislation may also be unnecessarily repressive, particularly for those attempting to sell sex in a new country.
For decades, debate has raged over whether sex should ever be traded. Some believe it is an exploitative practice, while others think it is a healthy, empowering choice that women should have the right to pursue.
For some people, selling sex can feel like a way to escape the reality of their lives and to make a better living. However, for others it can be a terrifying experience that they cannot overcome on their own.
The law can also make it hard for a person who has sold sex to get a job or rent a place to live. This can make it difficult to support themselves and could leave them vulnerable to violent crime such as rape.
Those who sell sex often find it hard to trust the police, so it is important that the police treat them with respect and compassion. They should be given non-criminal justice interventions, such as mental health support, benefits advice and employment support.
Advertising the Sale of Sex
Advertising the sale of sexual products, such as sex, can be a problem in Prostitution law. It is an issue that many countries have tackled through legalization, regulation or decriminalization.
In the United States, for example, the Federal Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) aims to criminalize online platform providers that facilitate sex trafficking. The law has caused a number of problems for sex workers, as websites such as Backpage have been removed or censored.
In the UK, there are also laws relating to advertising the sale of sexual services. For example, it is illegal to solicit people for the purpose of offering their sexual services as a prostitute in a street or public place. It is also an offence to make or promise payment for a person’s sexual services if the service has been forced upon them by exploitation. This is a strict liability offence and clients can be prosecuted even if they did not know the service was forced.