Awareness: The Social Misjustice of Prostitution


“We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true.
Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.”

Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

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Drug abuse, violence, coercion, and disease.

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These are not exactly working conditions that summons one to aspire to a career in prostitution; yet, there is never a shortage of new candidates entering the “world’s oldest profession”.  This beckons the question:

  • Why does someone use their bodies to trade sex for money,

  • When all the evidence of this lifestyle proves it as being dangerous and life-threatening?

The pimp’s only aim is to make money off the sex trade of women.


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In her book “The Prostitution of Sexuality, Kathleen Barry describes how the pimp targets women who are vulnerable enough to create an emotional dependency.  Once contact is made, the pimp must:

  • first ensure the woman is influenced by the enticement of substantial financial gain; and then,

  • she must learn to shed any moral objections to prostitution work.

Bill Shackleton in his book Protecting Prostitutes wrote,

“A pimp would use an effective and orderly method of gaining the services of women.  He would first display affection and generosity, and then carefully move to establish a sexual relationship”.

During this stage of recruitment, the woman has never been a prostitute prior to the relationship; and therefore, she needs to learn previous unknown behaviors.

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In progressive steps, the pimp:

  1. rewards her by telling her she is special and beautiful,

  2. she has worth, and

  3. he can help her overcome her difficulties.

Until she becomes skilled and exhibits the changed behaviour he requires, he would increasingly reward her until he gains her trust and cooperation.

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Annette and Graham Scambler discovered that for the prostitute, the most pervasive form of enticement is financial gain.  When she is living the “lifestyle:

  • the payoff is immediate,

  • payday is every day she is willing to work, and Immediacy becomes a way of life.

When the pimp has the prostitute under this control, he ensures Positive Reinforcement is employed through the constant and immediate rewards of getting paid for services rendered.  Free from their poverty lifestyle, he understands she will like having money in her pocket at all times – and for so little effort.

As the relationship develops,
the pimp becomes the prostitute’s father, lover, and friend.

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In her book Of Vice and Women: Shades of Prostitution” Margaretha Järvinen describes how she must work very hard to earn his respect, his love, and to keep him achieving the best in material possessions.

At this point, the pimp understands that he has her under his control. The pimp no longer needs to provide continuous immediate rewards using positive reinforcement because the prostitute is already performing; rather, he changes his tactics:

  • the pimp would reward her intermittently so she can then work even harder to achieve his financial goals, and

  • he rewards her just often enough continue the improving performance of developing into a productive object for him and to keep her satisfied.

The pimp reaches a point where he will use Punishment to maintain control over the prostitute.

He wants her to learn that he is the boss, and she is subservient to him.

He realizes that just punishing her will eventually not bring the desired result he wants (which is obedience) because she will just rebel and move on or become aggressive with him and cause him problems.  Instead, he will use punishment infrequently, and use it in conjunction with other types of rewarding reinforcement.

Prostitutes have to earn the respect of the pimp.

The pimp knows his success is dependent on fuelling two emotions in a woman:

  • love and

  • fear.

To many women,
the lifestyle can be socially fulfilling and psychologically addicting.

By the time women are ready to leave prostitution, they realize that what they have accumulated as a result of their financial dream amounted to little but:

  • a collection of arrest records,

  • a blur of experiences, and

  • a path of abandonment by those they cared about.

The woman has come to the realization there is no rewards left in the trade.

When this time comes, the woman has come to this realization: there are no rewards to be won; therefore, no reason to continue the behavior.

From the beginning to the end of a prostitute’s career,
it is clear the relationship of dependence between the woman and the pimp.

He is always in control, and for the most part is always the one with the power.  He uses every conditioning principle to manipulate the woman into changing her behavior so he can gain maximum benefit for himself alone.

Although the main goal for both parties is to make as much money as possible, his investment in the woman pales in comparison to the cost to her mind and body.

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Victor Hugo called prostitution slavery.
His words are no less valid today as they were two centuries ago.

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