• Stephanie Vonwiller

Sex work is not work



Overview and history

The midwife works in the oldest profession in the world - not the prostitute (Terre des Femmes)

"It is not easy to find data on the extent of the prostitution market, but Havocscope estimates that the income from prostitution worldwide is around USD 186 billion per year (see price list below). In Germany, the trade union Ver.di estimates that the national figure is EUR 14.5 billion per year, while the figures in the Netherlands range from USD 450 million to USD 675 million and in Spain around USD 20 billion per year. According to a report published in 2012, around 40-42 million people are working in prostitution worldwide, 90% are dependent on a pimp. 75% of them are between 13 and 25 years old. The prostitution market is a highly globalized and 'industrialized' phenomenon. Millions of women and children from poor backgrounds worldwide are bought by criminal rings and sold to large brothels, which can exploit hundreds of victims simultaneously. Trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation is considered one of the most lucrative illegal businesses in Europe, with criminal groups earning some USD 3 billion a year. Trafficking for sexual exploitation includes exploitation in prostitution and pornography (European Parliament)."


Sex work is a term that trivializes the misery of women. I prefer to talk about sex slavery. There are many reasons for sex slavery, but the effects are always inhumane or disrespectful of women. Therefore, it is completely irrelevant whether it has been legalized in some countries or remains illegal, as in most states. Nevertheless, there are advantages of legalization, but in my opinion, they do not outweigh the disadvantages, they only mitigate them. That is what this article is about.


But above all, I want to deal with the question of why sex slavery still exists in the 21st century. Apart from the usual arguments such as poverty, violence, or deception that put women in this situation, I would like to look specifically at the view of the religions, especially the five world religions, since they make up a total of about 84% of the world's population.

Hinduism is the oldest of the religions (about 3,500 years). Then comes Judaism (3,000 years old), Buddhism arose about 500 years before Christ, Christianity with Jesus, who was born a Jew, arose about 2,000 years ago, then Islam - about 1,440 years ago. In all religion's, women are not seen as equal. She has to subordinate herself to the man.


Examples from the religions

  1. Hinduism 15.2%: "According to Manu, women are weak, it is their nature to corrupt men. Women should not act independently, not even in their own four walls" (Bayerischer Rundfunk).

  2. Judaism approx. 0.2%: "The basis of the traditional Jewish view on the position of women is based on a patriarchal culture of biblical and talmudic times. At that time, women were considered the property of men. Her duty was to have children, to educate them, and to support her husband." (grin.com)

  3. Buddhism 5.6%: A bhikkuni (Buddhist nun) must always pay homage to a bhikku, even if she has been ordained for a long time or is older. If a bhikuni breaks a rule, she must confess before both the bhikhunis and the bhikhus. A bhikkhuni may neither criticize nor rebuke a bhikku. A bhikkhuni may not give teachings before any bhikkhus community. (Uni Frankfurt)

  4. Christianity 31.1%: "The rule of men over women (patriarchy) is supported ideologically by Christianity. The image of woman, as it has been taught in the church for more than 2000 years, is often still the image of the 'other' sex. There is still no ordination of women to the priesthood in the Catholic and Orthodox Church. Both churches still strongly adhere to the traditional image of women." (dija.de)

  5. Islam 24.5%: "The man has read and developed the Koran for about 1400 years through patriarchal glasses. Thus, the image of women as well as the relationship between man and woman is patriarchally shaped. According to El Omari, this is particularly evident in the excessive sexualization of the sexes. Women are quickly labeled as the object of man's desire, which should be veiled as much as possible. (Dr. Dina El Omari, Islamische Theologie Universität Münster)

These five world religions still exist today, and even their image of women today is far from an equal view. In addition, there are about 0.8% other religions and about 5.8% ethnic religions. All these religions have an immense influence on believers in general and men (50%) in particular. They could, therefore, be seen as stingers that for centuries and millennia have maintained the history of man as the 'supreme being' and thus continue to open the door to the sex trade. Without the female believers and their services, however, the religions would not be able to survive. This leads to the consideration whether women dig their 'own grave', so to speak if they belong to one of the religions. Only about 15.6% of the world's population is non-denominational. (Data comes from Pew Research Center)


Already in the 5th and 7th centuries before Christ, there was obviously a flourishing sex industry. If we believe Pierre Dufour, then prostitution already existed over three millennia before Christ, that is, in the times of Hinduism and Judaism. According to Thomas Junker religious systems centered on belief in a higher being emerged no more than 10,000 years ago*. Whether this is true or what precisely of it, nobody today will be able to clarify perfectly. The fact is that today we have a structure worldwide that likes to live off the sex industry, so we can say that it is misogynistic. Facts and figures suffice, such as the fact that the sex industry is second only to the drug business, that in Germany about 1.2 million men use the services of prostitutes every day, or that 2-4 million women fall victim to human trafficking every year. (United Nation).


*For comparison: modern human is about 350,000 years old, his ancestors about 2.5 million years.


What is the impact of legalizing sex work?

Sex work remains socially illegal and also sex slavery even if it is legalized, because it does not change the reason why women have to prostitute themselves, especially poverty. In any case, prostitution is legal in very few countries. "The German government admits that many prostitutes find themselves in a social and psychological situation where it is questionable whether they could freely and autonomously decide to engage in this activity. (Terre des Femmes)."


Switzerland is no exception, where sex has been allowed to be offered quite legally since 1942. Until 2014, even sex with 16-year-olds was legal. This trade is subject to the same laws as any other business enterprise. Women pay taxes and social security contributions. They have health insurance, 'enjoy' the protection of the authorities, and have access to a few services. But all this does not hide the fact that we are dealing with a large system worldwide, which guarantees work and income for millions—hotels and restaurants, employment agencies, homeowners, lawyers, doctors, authorities, etc. However, since the demand cannot be met by local women alone, there are also illegal, unreported women in countries like Switzerland that have legalized sex work. These women enjoy no rights, are dependent on pimps, and cannot even rent their own apartment.

Apart from the illegality, however, there are other disadvantages. "Profiteers of the legalization are brothel operators and pimps: these can no longer be charged with promoting prostitution. The police now have little means of entering brothels and investigating initial suspicions of underage prostitution or forced prostitution. Since much of what goes on around prostitution has been decriminalized, pimping is de facto no longer a punishable offence, only if it is 'exploitative pimping', which takes more than 50% of the income of the prostitutes. Legalizing prostitution is also worthwhile for Germany. For example, among the officially estimated 1.2 million men who visit a prostitute in Germany every day, the prostitution business's annual turnover amounts to 12 to 15 billion Euros per year. The state profits in the form of taxes - and thus fulfills a pimping function because taxes are also collected from forced prostitutes. Jumping out of a window while fleeing from a pimp is now declared an accident at work. Statistics on murdered women in prostitution are no longer officially available; this is discriminatory (Huschkemau)."

According to a study by the Alfred-Weber-Instituts für Wirtschaftswissenschaften (Universität Heidelberg) there is even less human trafficking in countries with a legal ban on prostitution. It should not be forgotten that forced prostitution ALWAYS involves a high level of violence.

According to a study, 75% of men in Thailand go to a prostitute, 7% in England and 27% - 39% in Spain. In Sweden, the ban on sex buying was introduced in 1999. This Nordic model (to date Norway, Finland, Iceland, France, and Ireland have been added) means that anyone who buys sex is liable to prosecution. But 20 years later, only 60% of men refuse to buy sex (Terre des Femmes). Whether the Nordic model has been successful so far, especially in Sweden, is controversial for this very reason. Here is an Article from Charlotta Holmström and Prof. May-Len Skilbrei.


What are the main reasons for the spread of the global sex trade?

Globalization is, of course, a driving force behind all this. On the one hand, there are countries respectively men with strong demand, and on the other hand, there are countries respectively men who can meet this demand. But this goes hand in hand with the patriarchy that still prevails in large parts of the world. The second, but a no less important reason, is the infinite greed for money of the people involved.


Even while dealing with this topic, it became more than clear that gender equality could practically end sex slavery. However, since this is decades, if not centuries, away, I agree with Terre des Femmes that we urgently need to switch to the Nordic model worldwide and need sufficient exit programs for prostitutes. And new identities for former prostitutes to protect them. As this would swallow up enormous sums of money from the states, hopefully, the tax incentive of the 'sex business' would then no longer be so tempting.

Prices for sex from Havocscope:

Afghanistan – $30 to $60

Argentina – $50 at brothel, $300 at club

Australia – $150 for Asian woman, $300 for Caucasian woman

Bangladesh – $0.60

Brazil – $5.50 for 13 year old girl

Brazil – Brothel (Rio) – $60 entry fee at Centaurus

Brazil – Vila Mimosa, Rio – $20

Bulgaria – $25

Canada – Vancouver – $147 on Backpage (User Submitted)

China – Beijing – $100 to $400

China – Dongguan – $160

China – Hotel Spa – $130

China – Shanghai – $650 to $1,600

Colombia – $200 with Virgin Girl

Costa Rica – Brothel – $30 at Brothels (User Submitted)

Denmark – $150 to $200 per hour (User Submitted)

Dubai – $81 to $136 in studio flat

Egypt – $400 for Tourists

France – Apartment in Paris – $207 per client.

France – Cannes – Up to $40,000 a night

Germany – Flat Rate of $65

Greece – $12 to $19 with HIV Positive Girl

Hong Kong – $40 in a one-room brothel to $232 in hostess bar

Hong Kong – 17 y/o minor – $50 to $65

India – $1,000 for virgin, $1 for adult

India – Calcutta Prostitute Earnings – $1.85 per day

India – Delhi – $13.50 to $16.80 for foreign women

India – Online – $573 for two hours

Indonesia – Earnings for Prostitute – $784 to $1,120 per month

Indonesia – Social Media – $70 on Facebook

Iran – Tehran – $50 to $65 for Street Prostitute

Iraq – $100 per session / $200 per night

Ireland – $45 to $129 charged by male prostitutes

Ireland -Limerick – $107 to $133 online, $40 to $66 street price.

Japan – $125 for 60 minutes with a South Korean prostitute

Japan – Minor – $100 for sex with 14-year old

Japan – Tokyo – $118 at brothels

Jordan – $1,000 for Filipino Woman

Kenya – $25 for sex with 12 year old girl

Kenya Border – $11.25 Kenyan Prostitute, $2.00 Ugandan Prostitute

Kurdistan – $150

Kuwait – $700 for 3 hours with escort (User Submitted)

Madagascar – $15 for one session with 15 year-old girl

Maldives – $9.77 for children

Mali – $2

Malaysia – $100 for sex with child

Mexico – $50 per hour with street walker(User Submitted)

Mexico – Male Prostitutes – $40 for 40 minuets

Netherlands – Amsterdam – $68

Nigerian women in Italy – $13 per transaction

Nigerian women in Ivory Coast – $2 per act

Philippines – Subic Bay – $35 at bars

Poland – $30 to 50 per hour

Scotland – Edinburgh – $48

Serbia – $10 to $500, average $60. (User submitted).

Singapore – $25,000 for 3-day tour

Singapore – Minor – $47 to $55

Singapore – Online – $111 to $119 for 90 minutes

South Korea – Jongmyo Park – $19 – $29 for Elder Women

South Korea – Southern Seoul – $117

South Korea – Underage Girl – $275

Suriname – One gram of gold

Switzerland – Union minimum of $100

Syrian Women – $7 at refugee camp

Taiwan – $344 for South Korean Prostitute

Turkey – $500 for VIP service (User Submitted)

Ukraine – $124 to $248 for foreign language speaking prostitute

United Kingdom – London Male Prostitute – $229 per hour

United Kingdom – Street Prostitute – $20

United States – $50 to $100 for street prostitute

United States – High-End Escort in Indianapolis – $500 per hour

United States – High-End Escort in NYC – $10,000 a night

United States – Legal Brothel in Nevada – $200 to $600

United States – Massage Parlor – $200 to $400 for oral sex and intercourse

United States – Massage Parlor Worker Earnings – $8,000 to $10,000

United States – Minnesota – $60 for oral sex with minor found on Backpage

United States – Oregon (Ashland) – $200 to $500 per hour (User Submitted)

United States – Oregon (Portland) – $130

United States – Orlando – $300 to $400 per hour

United States – Pennsylvania Earnings – $20,00 a week

United States – Phoenix, AZ – $1,500 per day for lesbian escorts

United States – Prison Guard – $150 charged by female guards

United States – Santa Ana, CA – Under $100 per act

United States – Silicon Valley – $350 to $500 per hour

United States – Underage Girls – $40 to $100 for 15 to 30 minutes of sex

United States – Washington, DC – $200 an hour