Prostitution is known worldwide as being arguably the oldest profession in history. As far back as humans can remember, there were stories of women who practiced the trade and were sometimes referred to as harlots. When the discussion of prostitution comes about, it is usually in the context of territories such as the USA. For the purpose of this article, however, we will be looking at the topic of prostitution in the UK.
The big consideration of prostitution is always the law. In the United Kingdom, exchanging sexual services for monetary reward is considered a legal process. However, there are related concepts and activities that are considered illegal. One such concept in the UK is that of force. There is a strict policy against this form of exploitation which you may review on the official website of the United Kingdom’s Crown Prostitution Service. The idea here is that any prostitute that is not engaging in the profession of his/her own volition is doing so under forceful influence. To take it a step further, if a client uses the services of a prostitute that is being forced, the client is liable to face legal repercussions. The intention is to reduce and eradicate things such as pimping and human trafficking which force prostitutes to work against their will. Consent is a huge factor in the practice in the UK and so these policies are drafted to encourage it. On the matter of consent, the age of consent to engage in sexual activities is 16 in the territory, however, labor laws dictate that if sex is being engaged in commercially, one must be at least 18 years old to legally practice prostitution.
Also, the practice of soliciting in a public place is also against the law. This discourages practices such as kerb crawling or street walking. Additionally, brothels are not accepted in the territory and the owning or running of one is an illegal act. Due to this, many brothels in the UK operate under the guise of massage parlors that provide “additional services”. Unfortunately, it is widely known that the law enforcement is not as effective as they should be as they are known to not only sometimes ignore the establishment and running of brothels, but they sometimes also use the services for their own benefit.
Like other countries where the profession exists there are lobby groups that exist for the protection of the rights of sex workers such as prostitutes. One such group is the English Collective Prostitutes which has been operating since 1975. They provide support, assistance and information to individual prostitutes. Apart from protecting the rights and advocating the safety of prostitutes, one of the biggest objectives of the lobby group is the decriminalization of prostitution. They believe that this is the only way proper regulation and protection can take place for those involved in the profession.
Unfortunately, the stigma and victimization of prostitutes is an issue in the UK as well as it is reported that as many as almost 50% of prostitutes have been the victim of crimes such as rape, robbery and murder.
Note that the information above applies to both male and female prostitutes.