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Abolitionism seeks to eradicate the sex industry. The primary mechanism for this is controlling specific activities associated with the sale of sex such as organising, operating or managing sex industry businesses or receiving direct financial benefit from sex workers’ labour – laws such as “living off the earnings of prostitution” which are still common in many jurisdictions around the world including Australia. This approach criminalises the majority of activities associated with the sex industry. The sale of sex by an individual sex workers may not be criminalised but they are unable to freely work as the law limits where and how sex may be sold. Taken from Scarlet Alliance, "Principles or Model Sex Industry Legislation"

Abolitionism arose as a specific response to the Contagious Diseases (CD) Acts enacted in England in 1864, 1866, and 1869, which epitomised the regulationist approach to the control of prostitution through medical supervision. Under the acts, any woman who was suspected of prostitution could be detained by the police and forced to undergo an internal examination. Josephine Butler famously led a 16-year feminist campaign to abolish the acts, which were repealed in 1886. Butlerite feminists opposed the then-current views of the prostitute as "fallen woman" or "sexual deviant"; placing the blame for prostitution squarely on the shoulders of unbridled male lust. Prostitutes were seen as victims, who should be rescued or rehabilitated, rather than policed and punished. Feminists in Butler's repeal movement objected to the Contagious Diseases Acts for what they saw as official state recognition of the "double standard" of sexual behavior for men and women. They also objected to the way the Contagious Diseases Acts gave the state additional powers to police and control the lives of women, especially working class women. Taken from Jo Doezema "Loose Women or Lost Women”

Decriminalisation refers to the removal of all criminal laws relating to sex work and the operation of the sex industry. The decriminalisation model is the favoured model of law reform of the international sex workers rights movement. Occupational health and safety and other workplace issues can be supported through existing industrial laws and regulations that apply to any legal workplaces.See Scarlet Alliance, "Principles or Model Sex Industry Legislation"

Legalisation refers to the use of criminal laws to regulate or control the sex industry by determining the legal conditions under which the sex industry can operate. Legalisation can be highly regulatory or merely define the operation of the various sectors of the sex industry. It can vary between rigid controls under legalised state controlled systems to privatising the sex industry within a legally defined framework. It is often accompanied by strict criminal penalties for sex industry businesses that operate outside the legal framework.See Scarlet Alliance, "Principles or Model Sex Industry Legislation"

Red Light district
Originated in Kansas. Alleys filled with one room shacks crowded areas closes to train stations. Brakemen who worked for the railroad would give a young boy a coin to watch for any incoming trains while he visited a worker. The boy would know which room he was in because he placed his red-glowing lantern outside the door or in the window of the shack. The slum area around the train station became known as the red light district.

Sexual Health
Sexual health is the integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love. Sexual health involves the capacity to enjoy and control sexual and reproductive behaviour in accordance with a social and personal ethic. Sexual health involves freedom from fear, shame, guilt, false beliefs and other psychological factors inhibiting sexual response and impairing sexual relationships. Sexual health involves freedom from organic disorders, diseases and deficiencies that interfere with sexual wellbeing and reproductive function. In order to achieve sexual health we must take action that involves; building healthy public policy, creating supportive environments, strengthening community action, developing personal skills and reorienting health services. World Health Organisation, Health and Welfare Canada, Canadian Public Health Association. Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. WHO, Copenhagen 1986.

This term was credited to General Joseph Hooker because on a visit to Washington DC was appalled at the vice around the capitol. So appalled that he rounded up all the lower class brothel workers and street workers and made them all practice in the same area - known as Murder Bay which was 13 streets of vice including gambling, theft and murder. However, the term predates the civil war and was in use in New York City in 1845 and was used to describe sex workers who worked at the dock on Corlears Hook. It is likely that a combination of events occurred to create the term. A painting entitled Hooking a Victim from 1851 shows a night scene of streetwalkers soliciting customers. The title refers to a method of prostitution used to see if a man was interested in her services. She would point the direction in which she was going and if the man offered his arm to her, she would hook hers within. He was the hookie. She was the hooker. (Taken from “What’s a poor girl to do”.)

Harlot; Whore
Ishtar was the primary Babylonian deity, a goddess strongly associated with sex work. As the Whore of Babylon, Ishtar proudly oversaw the continuing tradition of sacred prostitution, announcing on a stone tablet, which is still in existence. "A prostitute compassionate am I”. One of her titles was the Great Goddess Har, Mother of Harlots. Her high priestess, the Harine, was spiritual ruler of her city of Ishtar.
"Har" can be read as a cognate of the Persian houri (sacred temple whores and dancing girls, they were Ladies of the Hour. Each ruled a certain hour of the night, and marked the hours of the night by whirling dances. The oldest authentic Hebrew folk dance is still called hora after the circle dances of the sacred harlots) and Greek horae, and may also be the origin of "harem," which formerly meant a temple of women or sanctuary. The term harlot also finds its basis with Har. Harlot was a term for whore priestesses who were employed in Ishtar’s temples, administering sexual sacraments to worshipers, who would leave offerings to the temple, for the upkeep of the priestesses, and in honour of Ishtar.
The Hebrew form of Har was Hor; this along with the Persian term Houri seems to be the origin of the word whore. In the Hebrew Bible, whoredom was used to refer to both sex work, and idolatry - worship given to an image, but its signification has been extended to all Divine worship given to anyone or anything but the true God (Jews, along with Christians and Moslems are monotheistic); unfaithfulness to God. Thus it is possible to infer that sex work, and Pagan spiritual practices were linked in the minds of Hebrew prophets – and that religious harlotry, or cult prostitution, associated with fertility of the land; and practiced throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean regions was considered a threat to Judaism.

This definition taken from "Call Girls" by Roberta Perkins and Francis Lovejoy, UWA Press, 2007, pg 2 - 3
The term "prostitute" derives from the Latin word prostituta. Its literal meaning is a combination of "up front" and the latin word situere i.e. "to offer for sale." Being "up front" or being "exposed" also referred to the Ancient Roman sex workers' habit of going about with their faces uncovered when seeking the attention of potential customers, in contrast to the general practice of women covering their faces with the palla (head cloth) in public. ... the term "prostitute"... refers to those women who chose independence over being controlled by men in the Roman patriachal family. Prostituta was more often applied to independent sex worekrs, or those who worked in taverns, on the streets or in their own homes, rather than to the meretrix, or slaves sold to the madams and brothel-owners of the state-regulated brothels, or lupinar (literally meaning "house of she-wolves.")
The word "prostitute" was carried down through various languages to the present-day Western society. But as Gail Pheterson has pointed out, the term gradually took on a Christian moralist tradition, as debasement of oneself or of others for the purpose of ill-gotten gains. (Pheterson, Gail The Whore Stigma: Female Dishonor and Male Unworthiness Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelenheid Centrale Directie Voorlichting, Nederland, The Hague, 1984).
NB Sex worker groups in Australia reject the word "prostitute" and since the late 1970's have used the term "sex worker."


Transgender Speak by Marti Abernathey The word ‘tranny’ is offensive to some; so should it be used for all? How the gay press defines transgender people is a topic of much contention.

Updated 14th May 2007