Prostitution in the US
Prostitution in the US is as old as the very country itself. After all, it is known as “The Worlds Oldest Profession.” In 1990, The National Task Force on Prostitution estimated there to be 23 full-time prostitutes for every 100,000 people in the US. A Taylor Nelson Sofres (market research company) poll showed that 15-20% of all men report to have paid for sex; that number doubles to 30% among single men over 30. The Prostitutes’ Education Network report that 1%, or about 1 million women, have worked as prostitutes in the US. The huge prostitution trade is estimated to garner about $14 billion a year (Havocscope Prostitution Market Breakdown). This industry is booming, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Prostitution is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous professions in the world: the death rate for prostitutes is 204 out of every 100,000. (Greenspan) Additionally, the average prostitute gets physically attacked about once a month. The police are arresting about 70-80,000 prostitutes a year (costing tax payers $200 million), however there is still a widespread problem. Interestingly enough, prostitutes get caught far more often that their “johns” (those who pay for their services). The rate of arrests between the two is about 9 to 1: that is nine prostitutes are being arrested for every one “john.” The dangers of prostitution are only amplified by its prevalence in American culture. In order to combat the dangers involved in this industry, regulation, not criminalization, is the answer. The laws put in place have failed us in a big way, and if we want to mitigate the violence associated with prostitution, the government must intervene in a different way than it has thorough history. In the 18th century, some woman followed the Continental Army, offering sexual services in order to keep troop morale high. In the 19th century, brothels and parlor houses were established, as well as saloons. At the time, prostitution was illegal, but this prohibition was not often enforced. During Civil War times, Pennsylvania Ave. housed so many prostitutes, in order to serve General Joseph Hooker’s Army of the Potomac, that the area became known as “Hooker’s Division.” (Lowry) In the late 19th century, newspapers reported as many as 65,000 white slaves, and around 1890, the term “red-light-district” was coined. Prostitution took hold most strongly in New Orleans where one area of the city, dubbed “The District,” was home to some 1500 prostitutes and 200 brothels. (ProCon)
The United States’ rampant prostitution was finally addressed in 1908, with the founding of the BOI (Bureau of Investigation) to investigate “white slavery”. Of the 1106 prostitutes they interviewed, 6 reported that they had been kidnapped. Thus, the White-Slave Traffic Act was created, which prohibits any interstate transportation of females for so-called “immoral purposes.” Today, this term covers adultery, prostitution, and polygamy. Prostitutes soon found another venue, however. In this same time period, many brothels were being shut down in states such as California and Louisiana. However, prostitutes later found new venues. In 1967 NYC eliminated license requirements for Massage parlors, and thus many parlors became brothels. In 1970, Nevada began regulating many prostitution houses, with its first licensed brothel being created in 1971. Nevada remains today the only state with legalized prostitution.
Today, there are three types of prostitution: Street Prostitution, Escort Prostitution, and Brothel Prostitution. Street prostitution is illegal throughout the United States, and is considered highly concentrated. Sources such as the Chicago Police Department suggest that about one half of all prostitution arrests are made within .3% of all blocks in the city. Escort Prostitution is, despite its illegal status, widespread throughout the US. Escorts work both as independents and...
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