The Other Side paper was an assignment that helped me to explore an important social issue in a unique way that I had never had the privilege of experiencing before.  The students in my class and myself were to pick one of the eight social problems given by the instructor and then state our position in regards to that social problem.  Little did we know, we would then be assigned the position opposite of our own to write the essay on.  It was difficult for many of us, including myself.  However, many times in life it is the difficult situations that we benefit the most from; this essay was no different.   Not only did I finish with a more in-depth understanding of the topic, but I also had a new appreciation for opinions and ideas on the topic that I had once all but dismissed.  With this assignment I was reminded that to fully understand and defend your position on a subject, it is vital to understand all sides of an argument.  After all, how can I say that I'm write and you're wrong, if I don't even know what you believe?

Heather Murray

The Other Side

11/1/15

A Victimless Crime?

Prostitution, as defined by dictionary.com, “is the act or practice of engaging in sexual intercourse for money.” In this paper I will cover the historical beginnings of prostitution, citing some of the very first written accounts of situations involving prostitutes. I will identify prostitutes as the true perpetrators in modern society, and will examine why the notion of prostitution being a victimless crime is nonsense, delving into the effects of prostitution on United States society as a whole.

            For as long as man has had the wherewithal to record history, man has had prostitution as a part of life in one form or another. It has been dubbed “the world’s oldest profession” for this very reason. Over the centuries, the definition of what prostitution meant to the people of any given era morphed and continues to do so to this very day. The face of prostitution also varies not only from one century to the next, but also from one culture to another depending on the values and laws of that society in any given age throughout its history. What is dirty and criminal to one might be a form of holy worship to another, making prostitution one of the most elusive and timeless topics to date.

One of the earliest examples of the presence of prostitution is found in Hammurabi’s Code. “Hammurabi’s Code was proclaimed at the end of his reign,” which ended in 1750 B.C., (history.com). The code is a set of 282 edicts addressing a variety of legal and moral matters commonly encountered in the lives of ancient Babylonians. Such matters included, among many other issues, the rights of women and prostitutes. One example is found in, “law 179: If a "sister of a god," or a prostitute, receive a gift from her father, and a deed in which it has been explicitly stated that she may dispose of it as she pleases, and give her complete disposition thereof: if then her father die, then she may leave her property to whomsoever she pleases. Her brothers can raise no claim thereto” (history.com). This account not only gives us a solid reference in determining the age of prostitution, dating the act of prostitution at a stunning 3765 years old, but it also gives us valuable insight into the attitudes of that society regarding prostitutes and prostitution. If we examine law 179 we see that prostitutes are referred to as sisters of god. This titles doesn’t present a negative connotation. It was common in ancient Babylonian times for prostitutes to work in temples of various gods. They were culturally tolerated and the act of prostitution as legal.

Another book centered on a set of laws, otherwise known as commandments is also guilty of housing prostitutes between its pages. the Bible has several instances in which prostitutes are presented, some in ways that may surprise many of us. One occurrence illustrates a scene in which a Jewish group of people from the Old Testament, known as the Israelites, are entering the city of Jericho to spy so that they might take it over. When the King of Jericho and his men are alerted to the presence of spies within their city walls, the Israelites are forced to hide. Rahab, a local prostitute, risks her life for the Israelites and hides them on the roof of the Inn. Knowing their people are coming to attack her city, she begs for the lives of her family members and herself be spared due to her kindness in hiding them. God then declares that, “the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live,” (bible.com). Out of an entire city, only a prostitute and her kin are given the gift of life!

            In the Ancient Near East during in the 15th Century B.C., the day and age of Rehab, prostitution was obviously legal. It was openly practiced and culturally accepted at least to the extent of its practice being tolerated. However, there is subtle evidence we are able to glean from the undertones of this passage that demonstrate a stigma surrounding the profession of prostitution. The fact that the author of the book of Joshua details Rehab’s profession, as opposed to omitting it, implies importance. The author wants us to see that despite having a less than reputable profession, mercy is granted. Regardless of the author’s motive for its emphasis, for our use, its purpose is merely to depict the attitudes and beliefs surrounding prostitution by the people of this era who live in the Ancient Near East; attitudes and beliefs that are in stark contrast to today’s people of the Near East.

            The Near East, or what is known as modern day Israel has entirely different views about prostitution, both legally and dogmatically. Prostitution is no longer legal in almost every corner of the world, Israel included. The predominant religion, Judaism, clearly opposes it and strictly forbids it in every branch and sect from the Orthodox Jew to the more modern, secularistic Jews. Although, when put in juxtaposition to the surrounding nations, Israel’s beliefs regarding prostitution are mild. Nearby nations, such as Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and the several others that make up what we know as the Middle East have laws regarding prostitution that would make your jaw drop. Woman have been known to be sentenced to death by way of public executions which involved stoning, hanging, and being barbarically tied to a vehicle and dragged until death occurred.

To remain out of the tendentious shadow of biasedness, it must be stated that these harsh legal consequences are limited to a handful of nations and are not the global norm. Possible punishments being handed down from judges for the conviction of prostitution vary from the mildest, slap-on-the-wrist tickets and minimal jail sentences of less than a year, all the way up to the previously discussed death sentence. This leads us to the widely debated topic of victimization regarding prostitution and prostitutes themselves.

Who is the victim and who the offender? Some would say that the true victims of prostitution are the prostitutes themselves, many of which were sold into prostitution at a young age and have remained there by force or free will due to the fact that it’s the only life they know. With pimps and sex traffickers pocketing most of the profits, it’s hard to deny the validity to this side of the argument. However, there is another side to the story: prostitutes are the true perpetrators, criminals who have perfected their trade.

Sex workers, prostitutes, call-girls, escorts, dates, call it what you will, it’s all the same. It is a man or woman in the business of preforming sexual acts for the purpose of spreading moral corruption and disease throughout communities worldwide. Although it is easy to mistake prostitution for what have been called a “victimless crime,” the truth of the matter is that there are many victims. Prostitution has morally corrupted cities and the people within since the beginning of time. It has snaked its way into the homes and lives of couples and families in every nation across the world; breaking apart families and stealing parents and stable homes from children. Prostitution leaves those who make use of their services riddled with disease, decay, and sometimes addiction. It has taken much needed money from the families of those in the market to buy sex, and robbed the funds from struggling economies, which would otherwise remain in place if the services offered by prostitutes didn’t exist. “Law enforcement agencies in America's biggest cities spend an average of about $2,000 for each arrest of a prostitute, which amounts to more than $120 million a year in enforcement costs nationwide” (Becklund).  Our wasted tax dollars used by law enforcement in an attempt to control the situation could be going to much better causes. This causes the genuinely needy people of our nation to suffer even more than they already are by depriving them of funds that could otherwise be used to provide meals for the underprivileged. The possibilities of the good that could be accomplished with the $120 million dollars a year that is stolen from tax payers are endless.

Prostitution has been going on for as long as time itself, but can no longer be considered a victimless crime. The true victims are all of us.   We need to see it for what it is and begin to rally together to help everyone left victimized by the sex industry. It is obvious with the above information that prostitution leaves nothing but destruction in its wake, and it’s no one’s fault but the prostitutes. Life today wasn’t the same as it was in the days of the Bible or ancient Babylon. We no longer have people dying of starvation in our streets. We have programs to feed families and assistance with housing and bills. There is no longer a need to go to the great lengths of prostitution that those from the past had to go to. Prostitutes are who are to blame for this sad situation, but it is everyday citizens who suffer.

 

Works Cited

  • Dictionary.com Dictionary.com. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.
  • “Hammurabi.” History.com A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.
  • “Joshua 6:17, English Standard Version (ESV).” Bible.com. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.
  • “Prostitution Arrests Cost $2,000 Each, Study Finds.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

 

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