These women make outcalls, where they visit the home of the client; or in-calls, where the clients visit their homes. At the second tier are women who work at established locations such as strip clubs, sex juice bars, brothels and massage parlors, where erotic services are also included following or during, what is an often a therapeutic massage. The third and lowest tier of prostitutes are the streetwalkers who roam certain areas, are picked up by customers and the sex acts are performed in motels that cater to this service, or cars or in back alleys. For each encounter, the prostitutes who belong to this third tier often charge only a few tens of dollars for their services. These lower tiers also include drug addicts who perform these acts in drug dens or at truck stops catering to long haul truck drivers.
Legalization of Prostitution
The term legalization can be defined in different ways. (PENet, 2008) That depends upon what each person's criteria for legalization involves. One important consideration is what a prostitute feels legalization should entail. The simplest way to look at this would be to make prostitution legal without any restrictions from law enforcement. But does that mean that a brothel could be opened up in a mall. Certainly societal perceptions about prostitution have to be taken into account. It would be unseemly to make prostitution so unrestricted as to have prostitute parading themselves in immodest attire on a busy street in the office district in a city downtown in the middle of the day. Even without such regulations, most cities, even where prostitution was criminalized had red light districts, which was understood by all to house prostitutes. Historically, the term red light arose because prostitutes would put a red lantern outside their houses to inform customers of the availability of sexual favors.
Legalization and regulation for prostitution go hand in hand. While prostitution is decriminalized, that is one cannot be arrested or charged for offering services or pandering to them, these are heavily regulated. This means that the location of brothels or streetwalking is permitted in only special restricted zones, often on the outskirts of cities. Prostitutes have to pay taxes just like any other businesses. Law enforcement is used not to make arrest but to enforce these regulations. The prostitutes have to submit to health checks on a regular basis for sexually transmitted disease and for general health. If a disease is found, then that prostitute would have to be quarantined until the disease has been cured; or if the disease is incurable then the sex worker would be taken out of commission. As a safety measure, prostitutes would have the sex acts also regulated. For example, condoms would have to be worn even if both parties associated with the transaction would not want them. Ensuring that all the regulatory conditions have been met, poses another danger. And this does not involve non-compliance by individual workers or their customers to skirt the regulations. The issue is that even the regulatory elements mentioned earlier in this paragraph will involve the creation of a whole bureaucracy of health professionals, social workers, counselors, law enforcements. How does one pay for this? By taxation, of course. And how is the income to be procured for this social engineering experiment? If taxing the sex workers would result in insufficient funds, then burden of this would have to be borne citizenry who do not contribute to or gain from these regulations. While this essay will argue for legalization, the notion of replacing the state's power through criminalization would be replaced by a state's power to regulate, both of which would be equally harmful and not solve the problem that legalization seeks to bring.
With regulation comes a whole list of issues that in large part represent more of a problem than consider it criminal. Prostitutes and organizations for prostitutes, when asked about the issue took the libertarian approach. They believed that as long as the criminalization of prostitution was removed, they would have a way of self-regulating their profession without any undue influence. Thus the best argument can be made for legalization as it strictly relates to decriminalization and without any further interferences. This is a libertarian-conservative approach, which espouses the power given in the hands of the individual, who its proponents believe will through a combination of the interest of self-preservation and economic, market forces will do a much better job or regulating and even policing itself. As the conservative commentator and humorist P.J. O'Rourke said that, paraphrased here, that democracy was the freedom to do as one damn well pleased except that one had to be aware of (and be ready to face) the consequences. (O'Rourke, 2008)
In terms of the freedom of prostitution from fear of criminalization and regulation, one has to be aware that prostitutes come from all walks of life and carry the burdens of all manner of lifestyles. For them prostitution might be a last recourse as a way to get finances to earn a living, feed a drug habit. They might be prostitutes because of a lack of self-worth, coming from a history of sexual abuse even as a child and they see themselves merely as sexual objects. Alternatively, they might believe that prostitution might be a way to earn a living in as quickly a manner as is possible. They do it as a matter of choice and carry no emotional baggage. They are dispassionate about all aspects of prostitution in only that it allows them to garner a form of employment. Customers of prostitutes should also realize that they take the risk of venereal disease. They risk, if they are caught or found out by spouses, of suffering the dissolution of a marriage and the consequent financial costs and the freedom to visit and interact with their children.
Prostitution in the United States -- as a legal profession
This scope of this essay is not comprehensive enough to detail the history of prostitution in the United States. Since we have already discussed the prostitution as an instinctual issue, there is little doubt that prostitution was part of America, from the early settlers, and despite their puritanical leanings, to modern times. This discussion is about landmark rulings that involved prostitution. The first related to migrant Chinese workers who were brought to the American west to build railroads. Since most of these were men; the ratios were unacceptable for proper living and so brothels flourished. To fight this, Chinese men were allowed to bring only their wives. And the ruling of 1875 ensured that imposed strong penalties on men who engaged in prostitution. This included fines of up to $5,000 or five years imprisonment for harboring prostitutes.
The next ruling that included prostitution came about as part of the law that sought to provide a comprehensive census of immigrants. This included categorization of immigrants in terms of physical appearance, land of origin, educational levels, etc., just as one would a census. Children were accounted for in this law.
The third ruling that involved prostitutes came about in Hawaii. Men who fought on the Pacific front would often stationed in Hawaii as a way-station or used for furloughs. Having not had female companionship for several years, the flesh trade flourished in Hawaii where brothels were so busy that soldiers stood in long lines outside these "hotels" and prostitutes easily charged one dollar for a minute for service. To put a curb on this, the government sought to regulate prostitution and imposed taxes on those who ran the brothel. The prostitutes could not open bank accounts, could not send money to their families and could not be seen in the company of soldiers and officers outside the brothels. But in a classic case of supply meets demand, brothel madams paid the sometimes more than a hundred thousand dollars fines without much problem. To oppose these punitive measures brothels went on strike for more than two weeks and the repercussions were uproarious. Eventually, the then governor of Hawaii closed down these motels.
The last land mark ruling of 1971 proposed that brothels could only operate in townships that housed more than 400,000 residents. This followed the usual upheavals following the Korean and Vietnam wars and the internal wrangling associated with the communist infiltration into the U.S. government. Today, prostitution is only legal in the state of Nevada and only in establishments and brothel. Streetwalking is still illegal. Prostitution of any kind is illegal in other states. This illegality both for the prostitute and the customer when caught, either in the sexual act or negotiating the financial terms of the service never rise above the level of a misdemeanor to a felony, other than if felonious crimes are committed. (Powell, 2005)
This is a significant departure from prostitution in other country. In India, cities have red light districts, and the law enforcement is complicit. There is another form of institutionalized prostitution. These are called devdasis. (DecriminalizePN, 2000)