Prostitution Vs. Pornography

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Prostitution vs. Pornography


Despite the fact that most prostitutes become mothers at some point in their lives, very few studies have focused on the connection of motherhood with prostitution, and even less so on non-Western prostitution and its settings (Herdt, 25). There are studies supporting the claim that prostitutes are unfit to be mothers, with others arguing that motherhood is one of the reason some low-income women have entered the sex industry as a last resort to support their children.

Focusing on prostitution as it relates to motherhood magnifies some of the myths, misunderstandings, and ambiguities that surround society's theorizing about the sex industry in general, and about women prostitutes in particular. This is because prostitutes are more often than not perceived by society as women who do not deserve, or are emotionally unfit, to be mothers (Herdt, 25).

Societal Concepts of Prostitution

Influenced by the dominance of existing scholarly literature that typifies prostitutes as diseased physical and moral bodies, suffering victims, or sexual deviants or criminals, most of the images of women prostitutes leaves space only for the image of the prostitute as an impure body. The ideal of purity, with its depiction of prostitute women as unfit mothers, represents the main thematic device that society has adopted, and still adopts, for the representation of women characterized by a good versus bad dichotomy. This dichotomy has its own mythology: on the one hand, that the capacity for motherhood exists within every woman, as sex for a woman is couched in terms of her reproductive role; and on the other hand, that prostitution encompasses the notion that women are sexual beings, therefore challenging discourses concerned with the sexuality of women (Hickey, 35).

Legal Aspects of Prostitution

Although legislation dealing with prostitution differs globally, women working as prostitutes are often prosecuted for the work they do. There exist some subtle variations as countries legalize, criminalize or decriminalize, or require registration or licensing in the sex industry. For example, prostitution is criminally prosecuted in the majority of jurisdictions in the United States, and it is illegal in all states but Nevada (Hickey, 35). Prostitution is legal in Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, and in all but one state in Austria. It is legal in Finland, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Canada. Similarly, some form of registration, licensing, or health checks is required in Austria, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, and parts of Australia. It is decriminalized in Sweden, New Zealand, and parts of Australia. Many of these legislations also include some form of criminal offense for exploiting, trafficking, promoting, or encouraging prostitution, or benefiting from the prostitution of another (Jessor, 50).

For those adults who are prosecuted, prostitution (street prostitution in particular) associated with motherhood means that women who are mothers and are also working in the sex industry are not only punished for the job they do, but they are also penalized further, as any legal case against a prostitute mother very often brings the additional punishment of the loss of custody of a child. Abuse and ...
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