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Prostitution in the United States - Research Paper Example

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Prostitution in the United States: A Literature Review Introduction There is a long history and thriving culture of prostitution in America, despite its illegality in all but a few places (Anderson). In recent decades, the financial incentive for prostitutes has expanded beyond simply the monetary, and this complication has added both an extra layer of criminal activity and another dimension of risk for prostitutes…
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Prostitution in the United States
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Download file to see previous pages By identifying the most important factors surrounding the problem of prostitution, further research can be done to address each issue in more detail. This study will use the definition of prostitution provided by Murphy: “the exchange of sexual services for economic compensation” (775). To better understand the historical context and contemporary situation of prostitution in the U.S., a general review of the literature was conducted. Who becomes a prostitute? Anyone could become a prostitute, and yet the women that do tend to have some common traits. Their childhoods are often as problematic as their adulthoods, and women who choose prostitution have often suffered from specific and predictable childhood experiences. Valera et al. report that almost half of a sample of prostitutes reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact on the part of an adult during their childhood. In the same sample, 39% of women also reported having been abused by a guardian to the point of injury (Valera et al.). Edwards, Halpern, and Wechsberg describe both a history of child abuse and the presence of psychological distress as predictors of prostitution. In another study by Farley and Barkan, 57% of prostitutes reported suffering sexual assault during childhood and 49% reported having been physically assaulted. Clearly, the childhood experiences of these women have a staggering impact on them that is long-lasting. Unfortunately, childhood abuse is not the only abuse prostitutes experience, even if it is the first. Many prostitutes have suffered abuse and exploitation from men their entire lives, first through family members and later from pimps and clients (Carter and Dalla). These and the previously described factors seem to point toward a connection between childhood abuse and adult prostitution, so that some intervening response process to the earlier abuse puts these women at a greater risk for prostitution. There are several identifiable socioeconomic factors at work in the histories of women who become prostitutes (Burnette et al.). Women who become prostitutes have lower rates of education and higher rates of homelessness when compared to non-prostitutes (Burnette, Schneider, Ilgen, and Timko). Of course, without economic necessity or a drug habit, these women would not be motivated to engage in prostitution (Murphy). Given other resources for economic support, these women would not need to turn to prostitution. Socioeconomic conditions that may contribute to a woman’s continuing engagement in prostitution include a poor economy with a job shortage. Women interested in leaving prostitution and pursuing mainstream employment may be hindered by the contemporary economic climate and its shortage of new jobs. There are other attributes that can predict whether or not a woman is likely to become a prostitute. For example, women who are addicted to drugs are much more likely to become prostitutes than women without substance abuse problems (Burnette et al.). As they sink deeper into drug abuse, their ability to gain or maintain traditional employment is hindered. Through prostitution, they can continue the cycle of their addiction and make money to continue buying more drugs. They may even meet a drug dealer who is also a pimp, and get involved with prostitution through his design. Drug addicts are more ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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