Sex Work on the Streets: Prostitutes and Their Clients

Sex Work on the Streets: Prostitutes and Their Clients

Sex Work on the Streets: Prostitutes and Their Clients

Sex Work on the Streets: Prostitutes and Their Clients


• How and why do people sell and buy sex?

• What are the risks associated with prostitution?

• Should prostitution be legalized?

This book is the most detailed study ever provided on street prostitution. It is based on three years' research in which the authors interviewed prostitutes and their clients and spent many months working in a red light area. The book makes extensive use of direct quotes from the women and the men, as well as fieldnotes from the authors based upon their observations in the red light area.

Topics covered in the book include the women's negotiations with clients, HIV, drug use and violence. The book also describes the impact of working as a prostitute on women's home life. No attempt is made to moralise about prostitution in the book, instead the authors concentrate on the experiences of the women and men involved in selling and buying sex, and describe prostitution from their standpoint.

Sex Work on the Streets will be of interest to a wide range of students and researchers in sociology, social policy, criminology and women's studies.


Prostitution is a world-wide phenomenon that has existed for as long as writing itself. One of the earliest codes of law, inscribed on clay tablets in Sumer some 3500 years ago, made the distinction between prostitutes who could not veil themselves, and chaste women, who had to do so. Societies' tolerance or acceptance of prostitution has varied at different times and places, although in no place and at no time has it been entirely without stigma or repression. Today, some or all aspects of prostitution are illegal in all countries, although the approach varies from complete prohibition of every aspect, as in the United States, to the system in place in much of Europe, where, although prostitution itself is not illegal, most aspects related to it are illegal and prostitutes are regularly arrested for 'soliciting', or loitering. In some countries, including Austria, Senegal, Singapore, and Peru, the licensing of prostitution is allied to mandatory health checks backed up by the threat of arrest. A few countries have explored other approaches, including the Netherlands, where both soliciting and engaging in prostitution are legal within specified zones without mandatory licensing and testing, and where prostitution is tolerated outside those zones, so long as the women are discreet. In Australia, the Australian Capital Territory has decriminalized prostitution and a number of other state governments have been looking at a variety of alternatives to criminal law.

From my vantage point in the United States, it was enlightening to read this book because it underscores the fact that even with the less comprehensive prohibition that exists in Glasgow, the workers on the street are subjected to the same harassment as in my country. Indeed, I bring up this legal context because it is the context within which sex workers work, a context that increases their vulnerability to both sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV infection) as discussed in Chapter 5, for which they are so often scapegoated, and violence, described so well in Chapter 6. It is also the context within which many street workers suffer from depression, as documented by a . . .

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