The red light district De Wallen in Amsterdam Attitudes around the world to prostitution and how it should be regulated if at all vary considerably, and have varied over time. Part of the discussion impacts on whether the operation of brothels should be legal, and if so, to what sort of regulations they should be subjected. Some countries not parties to the Convention also ban prostitution or the operation of brothels. Various United Nations commissions, however, have differing positions on the issue.
Netherlands and Germany have the most liberal policies; in Sweden and in Norway and Iceland outside the EU the buying, but not selling, of sex, is illegal; in most former Communist countries the laws target the prostitutes; while in countries such as the UK, Ireland and France the act of prostitution is not itself illegal, but soliciting, pimping and brothels are, making it difficult to engage in prostitution without breaking any law.
The European Women's Lobby condemns prostitution as "an intolerable form of male violence" and supports the "Swedish model".
Such situations exist in many parts of the world, but the region most often associated with these policies is Asia. When brothels are illegal they may nevertheless operate in the guise of a legitimate business, such as massage parlors, saunas or spas. In other places, prostitution itself may be legal, but many activities which surround it such as operating a brothel, pimping, and soliciting in a public place are illegal, often making it very difficult for people to engage in prostitution without breaking any law.
This is the situation, for example, in the United Kingdom , Italy and France. In a few countries, prostitution and operating a brothel is legal and regulated.
The degree of regulation varies widely by country. Most of these countries allow brothels, at least in theory, as they are considered to be less problematic than street prostitution. In parts of Australia , for example, brothels are legal and regulated. Regulation includes planning controls and licensing and registration requirements, and there may be other restrictions. However, the existence of licensed brothels does not stop illegal brothels from operating.
Germany also has very liberal prostitution laws. Although the Dumas Hotel in Butte, Montana operated legally from until , brothels are currently illegal throughout the United States , except in rural Nevada ; prostitution outside these licensed brothels is illegal throughout the state. All forms of prostitution are illegal in Clark County , which contains the Las Vegas—Paradise metropolitan area.
History of prostitution Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec , Salon at the Rue des Moulins, The earliest recorded mention of prostitution as an occupation appears in Sumerian records from ca. The 'kakum' or temple was dedicated to the goddess Ishtar and housed three grades of women. The first group performed only in the temple sex-rites; the second group had the run of the grounds and catered to its visitors as well; and the third and lowest class lived on the temple grounds but were free to seek out customers in the streets.
In later years, sacred prostitution and similar classifications of females were known to have existed in Greece, Rome, India, China, and Japan. These brothels catered for a predominantly male clientele, with women of all ages and young men providing sexual services see Prostitution in ancient Greece.
In ancient Rome female slaves provided sexual services for soldiers, with brothels being located close to barracks and city walls. The custom was to display lit candles to signal that they were open. Before the appearance of effective contraception , infanticide was common in brothels. Unlike usual infanticide—where historically girls were more likely to be killed at birth—prostitutes in ancient times were more likely to kill male offspring. Governments would set aside certain streets where a keeper could open a brothel.
Not only did the towns restrict where a keeper could open a brothel, they also put constraints on when the brothel could be open. For example, most brothels were forbidden to be open for business on Sunday and religious holidays. The reason for this is not completely clear. Some scholars believe these restrictions were enforced to make the prostitutes go to church but others argue that it was to keep parishioners in church and out of the brothels.
Either way, it was a day of no revenue for the keeper. Although brothels were set up as a sexual outlet for men, not all men were allowed to enter them. Clerics, married men, and Jews were prohibited. Local men who frequented the brothels mainly consisted of single men; laws restricting the patrons were not always enforced. Government officials or police would periodically do searches of the brothels to cut down on the number of unpermitted customers.
However, since the government was so closely related to the church, common punishments were minor. These restrictions were put in place to protect the wives of married men from any sort of infection.
One limitation prohibited prostitutes from borrowing money from her brothel keeper. Prostitutes paid high prices to the brothel keeper for the basic necessities of life: Room and board was often a price set by the local government but the price for everything else could add up to a common woman's entire earnings. Prostitutes were sometimes prohibited from having a special lover.
Some regulations put on prostitutes were made to protect their clients. A woman was kicked out if she was found to have a sexually transmitted disease. Also, the prostitutes were not allowed to pull men into the brothel by their clothing, harass them in the street, or detain them over unpaid debts.
In some places a prostitute had to have a yellow stripe on her clothing while in others red was the differentiating color. Other towns required harlots to don special headdresses or restricted the wardrobe of proper women. All restrictions placed on prostitutes were put in place not only to protect them but nearby citizens as well. Even with all the regulations placed on legalized brothels and those people associated with the establishments, they were fated to be done away with. Because of a syphilis epidemic throughout Europe many brothels were shut down during the end of the Middle Ages.
The church and citizens alike feared that men who frequented brothels would bring the disease home and infect morally upright people. From the 12th century, brothels in London were located in a district known as the Liberty of the Clink.
This area was traditionally under the authority of the Bishop of Winchester , not the civil authorities. From , the bishop was granted the power to license prostitutes and brothels in the district. This gave rise to the slang term Winchester Goose for a prostitute. Women who worked in these brothels were denied Christian burial and buried in the unconsecrated graveyard known as Cross Bones.
By the 16th century, the area was also home to many theatres, including the Globe Theatre , associated with William Shakespeare , but brothels continued to thrive. A famous London brothel of the time was Holland's Leaguer.
It was located in a street that still bears its name  and also inspired the play, Holland's Leaguer. Charles I of England licensed a number of brothels including the Silver Cross Tavern in London, which retains its licence to modern day because it was never revoked.
The authorities of Medieval Paris followed the same path as those in London and attempted to confine prostitution to a particular district. Louis IX — designated nine streets in the Beaubourg Quartier where it would be permitted. By law, they had to be run by a woman typically a former prostitute and their external appearance had to be discreet.
The maisons were required to light a red lantern when they were open from which is derived the term red-light district and the prostitutes were only permitted to leave the maisons on certain days and only if accompanied by its head. By , Paris alone had officially approved brothels. During the first half of the 20th century, some Paris brothels, such as le Chabanais and le Sphinx , were internationally known for the luxury they provided.
The French government sometimes included a visit to the Chabanais as part of the program for foreign guests of state, disguising it as a visit with the President of the Senate in the official program.
France outlawed brothels in , after a campaign by Marthe Richard. The backlash against them was in part due to their wartime collaboration with the Germans during the occupation of France. Twenty-two Paris brothels had been commandeered by the Germans for their exclusive use; some had made a great deal of money by catering for German officers and soldiers.
For much of China's ancient and imperial history, brothels were owned by wealthy merchants , typically stereotyped as "madams", and engaged in business in urban areas such as the Capital city. A Chinese prostitute may have been artistic and skilled at practices such as dancing , playing musical instruments , singing and conversing in verse.
Prostitution was not outlawed in ancient and imperial China although prostitutes were not considered fit for marriage to men of respectable social ranking and instead prostitutes hosted in street brothels were popularly placed in the same social class as female artisans and regarded as elegant, albeit tainted, beings, most notably courtesans who used similar means to entertain members of nobility. The practice of hosting prostitutes in these elaborate brothels spread to surrounding regions of Chinese cultural influence , notably in Japan after the sixth century AD , where prostitutes and courtesans evolved to develop the Oiran and Geisha entertainment professions.
Again, the geisha of Japan emphasized good table manners, artistic skills, elegant styling and sophisticated, tactical conversational skills. The practice also spread to Korea , where prostitutes evolved into the Korean kisaeng.
India[ edit ] The governments of many Indian princely states had regulated prostitution in India prior to the s. British Raj enacted Cantonment Act of to regulate Prostitution in colonial India as a matter of accepting a necessary evil. They were licensed by military officials and were allowed to consort with soldiers only. Enormous amounts of money earned made the show's organizers move the show to different parts of India such as Lucknow , Jaipur and Kolkata , giving birth to the modern brothel industry in India.
United States[ edit ] From to the United States Department of Justice undertook the task of collecting information on the numbers of prostitutes in brothels in order to use this information against the much feared " White Slave Traffic ". It estimated about , women to be working in brothels at the time, yet some estimated the total number of prostitutes to be as high as , George Kneeland articulated his growing concern about the organized sex business in America well, saying that prostitution had grown into a "highly commercialized and profitable business that penetrated the deepest recesses of the political, cultural and economic life of the city.
As a result of these changes, the way prostitution was practiced changed. These manuals did not attract by using euphemistic language, and though bold by standards of the time, were not crude. In some areas, brothels simply could not be ignored. A nineteenth-century authority describes the city of New Orleans as such: The indulgence and practice is so general and common that men seldom seek to cover up their acts or go in disguise.
The typical brothel contained several bedrooms, all furnished. Some upscale brothels were much larger; such is the case with that owned by Mary Ann Hall of Arlington, Virginia.
The interior was elegantly furnished. This included many champagne bottles and corks, wire cages from such bottles, perfume bottles, high quality porcelain with gilt edging, along with remnants of exotic foods — coconut shells and berry seeds, bones from beef, fish, and pork indicating that elegant meals were being eaten at this high class brothel.
Brothels were not only for the wealthy. A Kansas vice report compares the two: The average prostitute was approximately age 21,  but many were as young as thirteen or as old as Typically thought of as an escape for young, poor, troubled women, brothels sometimes attracted those less expected.
Trained musicians and singers sometimes were lured into it by their interest in easy money and fun times.