We initiated this research in order to address some of the issues that have arisen in discussions about the nature of prostitution. In particular: is prostitution just a job or is it a violation of human rights? From the authors' perspective, prostitution is an act of violence against women; it is an act which is intrinsically traumatizing to the person being prostituted. We interviewed 475 people (including women, men and the transgendered) currently and recently prostituted in five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, Zambia). In response to questionnaires which inquired about current and lifetime history of physical and sexual violence, what was needed in order to leave prostitution and current symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) we found that violence marked the lives of these prostituted people. Across countries, 73 percent reported physical assault in prostitution, 62 percent reported having been raped since entering prostitution, 67 percent met criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD. On average, 92 percent stated that they wanted to leave prostitution. We investigated effects of race, and whether the person was prostituted on the street or in a brothel. Despite limitations of sample selection, these findings suggest that the harm of prostitution is not culture-bound. Prostitution is discussed as violence and human rights violation.
Feminism & Psychology: An International Journal – SAGE
Published: Nov 1, 1998