The following essay is going to deal with the sex industry, and especially with the differences between indoor and street prostitution. Moreover, the essay will examine the nature differences between the two sex industries, like the place of the sexual act, the percentages of violence, the reasons for entering the sex industry and the drug use. Furthermore, the essay will deal with the legislation about prostitution. Also, the essay is going to examine the strategies that sex workers take to protect themselves. Finally, the essay will address the different organizational characteristics between street base industry and indoor industry.
In many countries, prostitution is illegal (HC, 2016:4). Sweden has criminalized the purchase of sex in 1999 and since then there are also other countries who has follow the same approaches such as Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland and France (HC, 2016:4). The European Parliament claim that prostitution is a violation against human dignity and a barrier to gender equality. But, other countries like Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand have decriminalized prostitution. International organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Amnesty International support the decriminalization, as in this way help to prevent the spread of HIV and the sex works, which are a disadvantage group, more vulnerable to violence (HC, 2016:4).
However, In England and Wales, sell and buy consenting sex is legal, but other activities related to prostitution are illegal such as soliciting, brothel-keeping, kerb crawling and other forms of exploitation (HC, 2016:4). In the countries were prostitution is legal, there are legislative provisions to protect the children and the vulnerable people from criminal activities which associated with the sex industry (HC, 2016:4). In the UK there are between 60,000 to 80,000 sex workers, working either on the streets or in indoor environments. Statistic show that around 11% of British men have paid for sex, at least once in their life (HC, 2016:4). The average paying of a visit is 78 pounds and sex workers have average 25 clients a week. According to Sex Work Research Hub, 1/4 of sex workers based on the streets, and the remaining work in indoor prostitution (HC, 2016:4).
Firstly, it is important to define the terms ‘street sex work’ and ‘indoor sex work’. Street sex work can take place in streets, in drug houses, truck stops, in cars and hotels, but the negotiations take place on the street. Also, in can have the form of survival sex (trading sex). Indoor sex work includes escort activities, exotic/stripping and private dancing, brothels, saunas, peep shows and massage parlors (Raphael & Shapiro, 2004:131).
Street sex work has a lot of differences from the indoor sex work (Sanders et. al., 2009:18). Street sex work is cheaper that indoor sex work and is for a brief time, like ten minutes. The services are from a hand-relief, to fellatio and the sexual act but with a little offer. The sexual act take place outside or in a car and is cheaper than the indoor services (Sanders et. al., 2009:18). Indoor services can last several hours and can take the form of domination and bondage. Indoor sex work does not always include penetration, for example, stripping, telephone sex and massage does not include actual sex act (Sanders et. al.,2009:19). Furthermore, the sex market can be divided in two categories, in direct and indirect sex market. In direct market is the street sex work, the brothels (also known as sauna or massage parlour in some places) and the private houses. Indirect market includes the lap dancing, the stripers and the telephone sex lines. The indirect market does not include contact with clients and usually there are expensive practices. Each of these categories have different characteristic. The street sex includes visible soliciting, take place in cars and public places, is cheap and include only the basics. Also, is legal in most of the places, including UK. Opposite, the brothels are specific premises for sex, are safer from the street sex work and are regulated and licenced in some countries. In Germany, Holland and in parts of Australia are legal and decriminalized in New Zealand (Sanders et., al., 2009:20). However, in the UK is illegal to hold a brothel. The Sexual Offences act in 2003 introduced the penalty of imprisonment up to seven years for keeping a brothel (Campbell & O’Neill, 2006:96). The1956 Sexual Offences Act bans running a brothel and it is against the law to loiter or solicit sex on the street. ‘It is an offence for a person to keep a brothel, or to manage, or act or assist in the management of a brothel’ (Sexual Offences Act, 1956:68). Brothel defined as any premises, who used by more than one man or woman for prostitution, whether on the same day or on different days. However, a house occupied by one woman and used by her alone for prostitution, is not defined as brothel (Campbell & O’Neill, 2006:96).
The organization of indoor sex work also differs. Massage parlours work as a business and have some rules. Some of them are, only adult employees, no anal sex, use of condom and only adult costumers (Sanders et. al., 2009:26). Also, massage parlours and saunas have a manager (Sanders et. al., 2009:29). Furthermore, Kolar et al., (2014) in their research highlight that parlour-based sex workers were single, had lower education, tend to be younger that street sex workers and in the majority, were immigrants (Kolar et al., 2014:1101). A massage parlour defined as ‘premises ostensibly dedicated to providing massage, but a range of sexual services may be provided’ (Harcourt & Donovan, 2005).
Except of the organization between street sex work and indoor sex work there are differences in the nature of those two sex industries. It seems that on-street sex workers enter the sex industry for economic reasons (UCL Institute of Health Equity, 2014). Prostitution is not viewed as negative but as a means of survival. For example, some women were too young to work in a legal job (Williamson & Folaron, 2003:275). Also, Phoenix (2000) highlights, most women enter the sex industry for economic reasons and for their survival. In her research found that most of the women were working-class women, they were depending on a man for their survival, depending on the state for the welfare benefits, or they were low paid employment (Phoenix, 2000:39). Prostitution was a means where they could earn their own money and be independent (Phoenix, 2000:40). However, the economic reasons are not the only motivation. It seems that the stressful home life, the abuse and the neglect are some of the reasons why women entered sex industry (Williamson & Folaron, 2003:275). Opposite, indoor sex workers are more likely to entered in the sex industry because they had household expenses, debts, or children to take care (Bernard, 2005). Also, 18% of indoor sex workers entered prostitution for savings and only 4% of street sex workers entered for that reason (Davies & Evans, 2007:526). For the indoor sex workers, the main reason for entering the sex industry include the need to pay for living expenses, flexible hours, accommodate childcare and support dependents as a single parent (Jeal & Salisbury, 2004).
Moving on, statistics show that on-street sex workers have drug addiction, are homeless and have mental-health problems. Jeal and Salisbury (2004) in their research found that 2/3 of participants were homeless, or staying in temporary accommodation. Furthermore, they found that all the participants had drug or alcohol addiction and 85 to 90 percent of street sex workers were hard drug users. Moreover, it seems that all participants had a chronic illness and only 59% were receiving a treatment (Jeal & Salisbury, 2004:148-150). Drug use and street sex work co-exist. One explanation for the drug use from street sex workers is that drugs help with the phycological damage caused by work (Harding & Hamilton, 2009:1120). There are two types of women, those who enter the sex industry to find money for their drug addiction and to those who want to ‘clean’ from the drug addiction (Harding & Hamilton, 2009:1121). According to Davies and Evans (2007) 63% of on-street sex workers work as prostitutes to earn money for drugs and only 1% of indoor workers.
On-street sex workers are vulnerable group mainly because of the elevated levels of violence and robbery, either by clients or pimps or by local people who do not want the street sex workers in their neighborhood (Pitcher et. al.,2006:2) and by other working women or by their boyfriends (Sanders, 2004:1706). Church et al., (2001) found that 81% of street sex workers had experience with violence from clients in comparison to 48% of indoor sex workers (Church et. al., 2001). Also, Benson (1998) found that 98% of on-street prostitutes have experienced a form of violence in the work (Benson, 1998 cited in Sanders, 2004:1705). Moreover, the ESRC Research found that the violence in streets is very high with 63%. The violence was higher in street sex work than the indoor prostitution (Bernard, 2005). Women who work in indoor prostitution are more able to protect themselves and that’s why there are fewer attacks. They usually work by appointment and the negotiations happened before the meeting, so they have more control over the clients (Davies & Evans, 2007:526).
Also, it seems that street sex workers have report of being ‘slapped, kicked or punched’ in a presentence of 47%. 37% report robbery by a client and 28% report attempted rape by a client in comparison to 17% of indoor sex workers (Bernard, 2005). Furthermore, it seems that on-street sex workers are more likely to report a client violence to the police with a percentage of 44.1%. The indoor sex workers it seems that they want to keep their anonymity, mainly because of the stigma and they end up not reporting the violence. Only 18.6% seems to report an incident to the police (Bernard, 2005). Moreover, another difference between street sex workers and indoor sex workers is that street sex workers are younger than indoor sex workers. The average age of street sex workers is 25.9 and for the indoor sex workers is 28.7. Also, for street sex workers, their first experience of paid sex was at a younger age, 19.5 compared to 22.8 (Bernard, 2005:4).
Moreover, on-street sex workers are vulnerable because of the drug dealers. As we said, many women sell sex to find money for drugs (Pitcher et. al., 2006:2). This does not mean that all women who work on the street are drug users or have problems associated with drugs (Sanders et. al., 2009:35). Furthermore, on-street sex workers are targets of Government policies and the criminal justice system in the effort of limit the sex work activities. These practices have increase the isolation and the vulnerability of the on-street sex workers (UCL Institute of Health Equity, 2014:11).
On-street sex workers must learn some strategies to protect themselves. On-street sex workers have to deal with the police, the violence from the customers, and with the stigma from prostitution (Williamson & Folaron, 2003:277). With these strategies, they trying to reduce the danger and to protect themselves from being attacked, raped or robbed (Sanders, 2004:1710). For example, these strategies may include carrying a small weapon while working (Williamson & Folaron, 2003:277) like knives, blades, cs spray (Sanders, 2004:1710). On street sex workers trying to control their work environment to prevent attacks. Sex workers said that they feel more vulnerable during the negotiation with the client and during the sexual act (Sanders, 2004:1710). Moreover, sex workers have a specific geographical location for the sexual activity in order to keep safe. Also, apply their rules to the costumers, they do not let the costumers to take them wherever they want, they decide the location where they feel safe (Sanders, 2004:1710). If they kwon the location is easier for them to escape or call for help if something happens. Also, women try to avoid dead-end roads and prefer to be close to residential houses that may help them if they needed (Sanders, 2004:1710). Furthermore, on-street sex workers use the technology like CCTV as a ‘weapon’ for any client who want to hart them. Sex workers take their clients in places which they know that there are cameras (Sanders, 2004:1710). Also, another strategy that sex worker take is to note the registration number of the car because they want the client to know that his vehicle is been recorded. Moreover, the street sex workers inform friends where they take the costumers in case if something happens (Sanders, 2004:1711).
In addition, about the indoor sex work, Whittaker and Hart (1996) made a research about women who work in flats. They found that these flats had only the basic washing facilities, and some of them do not even had a toilet. In the flats were two women, the one was selling sex and the other, the ‘maid’ was usually an older woman who used to work as a prostitute. Some of the flats were ‘day flats’ and were open from 10 or 11 a.m. until 8 to 11p.m. The women in these flats work 10 to 12 hours a day. The night flats were open even more hours and the women there can work up to 16 hours a day. Many women even sleep in these flats because of the late finishing times (Whittaker & Hart, 1996:404). These women have a lot of expenses, expenses that street sex workers do not have. For example, they have to pay the rent for the flat which can vary from 120 to 250 pounds a day. Also, they have to pay for the utilities, which can be 30 to 60 pound a day. Moreover, the prices start from 15 pounds and then depending on the services and the time spent with the client. Women want a certain number of customers, usually 20 per day. Sometimes they work just to pay the rent (Whittaker & Hart, 1996:404-405). Some women said that they prefer working on these flats rather than the streets for two main reasons. First, is safer to work indoors, in their own place, because they have the control of the situation. Second, they felt safer because they work with the maid, whom protect and company to them. This is the main difference between on-street sex workers and indoor sex workers. In the research, women said that those who work alone are reckless and exceptional (Whittaker & Hart, 1996:406-407).
Finally, escorts are another group of legal indoor prostitution. Escorts are independent workers and work in their homes, in rented rooms or in hotels. Also, they can work for an agency. Escorts used to market their services in newspapers or by telephone booking systems, but today the internet is the main source of advertisement (Davies & Evans, 2007:527). Also, escorts use the internet as a means of communication. There are forums online which use to talk about their experiences and either the use of violence from a client of verbal abuse (Davies & Evans, 2007:533-534).
As we saw, there are different techniques between streets sex workers and indoor sex workers in order to protect themselves. Street sex workers depend on technology, like CCTV cameras, and carry a weapon. The practices in indoor prostitution include telephones to screen clients and working with a third person for protection. Escorts, identify their customers from telephones. A costumer with a landline is a perfect costumer because he does not hide any information and himself (Davies & Evans, 2007: 534).
In conclusion, the essay explored the basic differences between on-street sex work and indoor sex work. As the essay has shown, indoor and street sex work differ not only in nature but in organization too. Street sex workers are more vulnerable and entered in sex work in younger age and for distinct reasons than indoor sex workers. The main reason is the drug addiction and the homelessness while indoor sex workers entered to earn money. Also, the essay examined the legislation and shown that street sex work is legal, while some forms of indoor prostitution are not, i.e. brothels. Finally, the essay examined the strategies that sex workers took in order to protect themselves and found that depending on the place of work, the strategies differ dramatically. Indeed, the differences between indoor and street sex work are several. The indoor sex work is better as far the violence and the sexual or verbal abuse, but not completely safe as many thinks. Violence and abuse exist and in the indoor settings.