World’s Oldest Profession: The Global War Against Prostitution

It has been said that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. There has been an on-going concern with efforts to eliminate prostitution, exploitation, and human trafficking, while working to fight for human rights and minimize overstepping the boundaries of “freedom of choice”.

In 2001, the number of prostitutes in the world was estimated at 40 million. As of 2014, there are about 13 million prostitutes (that are accounted for) in the world, based on a 7.1 billion population count approximately. While this is a drastic “improvement”, prostitution is still an ongoing and reoccurring concern. In 2007, experts estimated 1 to 2 million prostitutes worked in the United States, with the FBI’s 2007 Uniform Crime Report listing about 78,000 arrests for prostitution and commercialized vice, but with experts saying those numbers were extremely conservative because many sex workers and clients aren’t caught. According to a 2013 report from anti-trafficking group, Shared Hope International, at least 100,000 children are prostituted each year as part of the $9.8 billion United States sex trafficking industry. As of 2014, there are still about 1 million prostitutes in the U.S., based on a 317 million population count approximately.

In countries such as France, while the accounted for number of sex workers is about 20,000-40,000, it is problematic that the only data available was presented in 2011, when 654 cases were registered, and that there is no available data on the abuse of children, when many of them are forced to beg on the streets. As of January 2014, unemployment reached an all time high for France at 3.3 million. These statistics have contributed to an increase in human trafficking, as it has in other parts of the world. In a January 2013 report, Traite des êtres humaines en France, the Council of Europe expressed concern about France’s data records on human trafficking and warned the French authorities that more resources should be allocated to tackling the prostitution phenomenon.

Or Spain, where Prostitución was decriminalised in 1995. Prostitution itself is not directly addressed in the Criminal Code of Spain, but exploitation, such as pimping, is illegal. Owning an establishment where prostitution takes place is in itself legal, but the owner cannot derive financial gain from the prostitute or hire a person to sell sex because prostitution is not considered a job and thus has no legal recognition. Some areas have implemented fines for street prostitution. Spain has been referred to as The World Capital of Prostitution, with Brothels being common, hidden-away establishments, and with a small group of workers offering Intro to Prostitution Courses. With the population in Spain being a little more than 47 million in 2014 (about 46.67 million in 2011), and with the country having an estimated 300,000 sex workers in 2011, prostitution and illegal activities accounts for 9 billion Euros of Spain’s GDP.

These types of issues are occurring in many countries. Prostitution generates $40 billion a year, mainly benefitting those who are trafficking people and drugs. Unfortunately, it is feared that the government’s efforts to eliminate prostitution in some countries may be counterproductive and it will only make those involved more careful at hiding and covering their trails to prevent getting caught.

As for the legality of prostitution, in 2013, about 50% of our globe’s countries reported prostitution being legal, with 11% being partially legally, and then 39% being illegal. As of 2014, while statistics have somewhat improved, it is still a fight that we appear to be losing.

I have been inspired to include prostitution in my blog based on personal experiences and individuals I have had the honor of meeting. I recently came across Stefanie Zillner’s article, Let’s Dare to Speak About Prostitution, a week ago on the 2013 Euroviews Educating Europe forum, which discussed how not only is involuntary prostitution an issue, but more surprisingly, “is the number of people who prostitute themselves out of desperation…they cannot afford their study”. How crazy is this? People prostituting themselves because they can’t afford the ridiculously expensive education that our government continues to increase!! It kind of pisses me off…

I know you may see me take breaks in my blogs as I have a lot going on. I hope to travel the world and fight against prostitution and human trafficking. I will discuss some disturbing issues. I will introduce you to some people who might make you feel uncomfortable, or completely touched. Prostitution is a major issue occurring in our society and it is unfortunate that it is an issue that we may not ever be able to rid. But we can do our best to shed light on this major global issue and never give up on our unified fight against the tragedy. Here is a list of a few (modern) news/movies/books/organizations that you might be interested in about prostitution and human trafficking:

Trade – film (2007)
Gardens of the Night – film (2008)
Taken – film (2008)
Abolishion – organization
Boogie Nights – film (1997)
Memoirs of a Geisha – film (2005)
Eden – film (2012)
Good Reads – books
UNICEF – organization
Sonny – film (2002)
Mississippi 168 Child Trafficking Bust – news article (June 2014)

Do you have any thoughts about prostitution or human trafficking? Any personal experiences or encounters? Do Tell Nicola…