Prostitution in global context

by Youngim Kim

Gender issues have been diversified because of a conflict of idea between prohibitions on gender discrimination and traditional gender role in many countries. As women’s right grow up, most of women in advanced countries can be educated and play an important role in society. However, an amount of poor and vulnerable women in developing countries are still forced into prostitution by human trafficking or desperate economic situation.

Although we all know prostitution is against ethics, morality and freedom of choice, prostitution has existed as the oldest profession. Legalization of prostitution is a controversial agenda throughout the world. Some people say that trafficking in women can only be stopped and social rights of prostitutes are guaranteed, if the existence of prostitution is recognized or legalized. (Armstrong, 2005). In other words, criminalization forces prostitution into the underworld. However, according to Hughes (2004), “In the Netherlands, since legalization, there has been an increase in the use of children in prostitution.” Also, Somswasdi (2004) contradicts Armstrong’s opinion, arguing that “prostitution is not about women enjoying rights over their own bodies but an expression of men’s control over women’s sexuality. I think legalization of prostitution may generate more human trafficking across the country.

International issues about prostitution can be sex tourism and sex slaves during war. In the past, sex slaves are existed during war across countries. In fact, sexual violence crime by U.S army garrison is happening in South Korea and Japan. In many countries, sex tourism is a fast growing industry similar to the tourism industry itself. However, while it obviously brings in huge revenues to a destination, sex tourism also degrades country reputation and impacts on its culture at the same time. (Tepanon, 2006).

Thus, sex industry is apparently thrived so that some poor and uneducated women in developing country reluctantly become prostitution. According to Brown (2010), the study on the sex trade in Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia estimates that between 0.25% and 1.5% of the total female population of the four countries is engaged in prostitution, accounting for between 2% and 14% of the countries’ gross domestic product (GDP).

However, we have to think all the poor women do not become prostitutes. Although eliminating human trafficking is indeed the most important, at least, we have to persuade women exposed to temptation of money from prostitution. I wish the demand of prostitution would be fundamentally decreased rather than seeking the way of decreasing supply.


Brown, Shane. (2010). Sex Tourism Around the World. Retrieved from

Armstrong, Ari. (2005). Legalize Prostitution to Reduce Harm. Colorado Freedom Report. Retrieved from

Hughes, Donna M. (2004). Prostitution: Causes and Solutions. Galicia: University of Rhode Island.

Somswasdi, V. (2004). Legalization of Prostitution in Thailand: A Challenge to Feminism and Societal Conscience. Cornell Law School.

Tepanon, Yodmanee. (2006). Exploring the Minds of Sex Tourists:

The Psychological Motivation of Liminal People. BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA.

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