Is Prostitution a Choice?

What comes to mind when you hear the word prostitution?

For many, this word may conjure images of women who have no regard for respected social ethics and don’t mind selling their body for some quick cash—that they’ve simply chosen to live this way.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Prostitution is primarily the result of a lack of choice among the most marginalized, vulnerable, and defenseless people in the world.

Most women in prostitution are suffering from poverty and are pulled into the industry by their desperate need for money just to survive. But the sad fact is that almost no one gets out of poverty through prostitution. In fact, as legal scholar Catherine Mackinnon put it, “they are lucky to get out with their lives given the mortality figures.” No one chooses to be poor when given other options. 

In addition to poverty, a prior history of childhood physical and/or sexual abuse is commonplace amongst prostituted women. It is extremely rare to find a person in prostitution who has not suffered from abuse before their time in the sex industry. No one chooses to be abused.1

  • MacKinnon, C. A. (2011). Trafficking, prostitution, and inequality. HARv. cR-cLL REv., 46, 271.

The real money-makers of prostitution are pimps, traffickers, and other predatory stakeholders.

As such, these individuals have devised a clever cover narrative that conceals the deeper truth of what is actually happening to those being sold for sex, preventing the outside world from seeing the injustice.

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