Prostitution And How It Is Systematically Disadvantaged Criminology Essay

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The following essay investigates how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice through its attempts to control deviance. Several areas shall be examined in the formulation of this essay, with the areas being covered including how criminal law and justice disadvantage some groups or members of society, how prostitution is defined including how and why individuals become involved, what the current laws and policies are pertaining to prostitution which see them become disadvantaged and how different theories help to explain how and why this disadvantage is occurring. Throughout the essay the individual must remain aware that although criminal law and justice sets out to protect society as a whole it inevitably disadvantages some groups within society.

Any individual hoping to investigate how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice through its attempts to control deviance, must be aware of the way in which prostitution is defined and how a person become involved or associated with it. The individual will also need to further investigate the current laws and policies in relation to prostitution. Four areas are particularly important when examining how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice. How criminal law and justice disadvantage some groups or members of society, how prostitution is defined including how and why a person may become involved, what the current laws and policies are pertaining to prostitution which see them become disadvantaged and how different theories help to explain how and why this disadvantage is occurring. Each of these areas all need to be understood, with the awareness that criminal law and justice sets out to protect society as a whole but inevitably disadvantages some groups within society.

Of critical importance when examining how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice through its attempts to control deviance, is to have some understanding of how criminal law and justice disadvantage some groups or members of society. As deviance is often defined as any behaviour that defies or goes against social norms, criminal law and justice often seek to control this deviance (Kendall 2008: 174). Although criminal law and justice has been formulated to protect society as a whole, it unfortunately and systematically disadvantages some groups or members of society (White & Habibis 2005: 5). In order to understand how some groups or members of society are disadvantaged, the three main purposes which criminal law and justice seek to fulfil must be examined as well as the objectives which the punishments enforced by criminal law and justice seek to fulfil (White & Habibis 2005: 5).

The first purpose which criminal law and justice seek to fulfil is that of moral wrongness as acts which are seen as being 'immoral' are often criminalized or made illegal such as prostitution (Humphrey 2007: 14). The next purpose which criminal law and justice seek to fulfil is the protection of individual freedom, as criminal laws are implemented to protect against acts which harm an individuals rights and interests (Humphrey 2007: 15). The third and possibly most important purpose which criminal law and justice seek to fulfil is the protection of community welfare as criminal law and justice set out to above all protect the social cohesion and well being of society (White & Habibis 2005: 7). Accompanying the purposes of criminal law and justice are the objectives which the punishments they enforce seek to fulfil as it is hoped that these punishments will set an example, both to discourage others from offending as well as stopping offenders from re-offending (Fletcher 1998: 31).

These objectives include that of retribution, which involves the offender being put at some discomfort as a result of their actions and is most commonly implemented through imprisonment (Fletcher 1998: 31). The next objective is that of deterrence, which it is hoped that by imposing a punishment upon those who commit crimes, others will be discouraged from committing similar crimes (Fletcher 1998: 30). The final objective of these punishments is that of rehabilitation, as it is hoped that the punishment received will be enough to force offenders into seeing the errors of their ways, refraining from committing further crimes (Fletcher 1998: 30). Having examined the purposes and objectives which criminal law and justice seek to fulfil it can now be understood how through its attempts to protect society as a whole, some groups or members of society can be unintentionally disadvantaged (White & Habibis 2005: 16).

Further contributing to the disadvantage of some groups within society, is the way in which criminal law and justice often respond to moral panics. The concept of a moral panic can be defined as the actions expressed by a specific group of individuals who are represented in negative or anti social ways most often by the media, which in turn leads to public outcry and the call for action from criminal law and justice (Simpson 1997: 9). This outcry is then often used to justify the suppressive and harsh treatment of these groups, most particularly that of prostitution which is severely frowned upon by society (Simpson 1997: 9). As public outcry calls for immediate action, criminal law and justice often react through hasty and rushed responses to these moral panics which further systematically disadvantage some groups or members of society (Wykes 2001: 27).

As a result of this hasty response, broad and sensational laws are implemented which often do not target the actual problem, such as the action taken in response to a rise in youth offenders (Simpson 1997: 14). Further contributing to these hasty responses to moral panics, is the knowledge that these moral panics also tend to arise around pre existing broader social issues or what is seen as being immoral particularly that of prostitution (Wykes 2001: 23). With an understanding of how criminal law and justice often respond to moral panics, it can also be understood how some groups can be further systematically disadvantaged as a result of this hasty response (Simpson 1997: 15). Having gained an understanding of how criminal law and justice disadvantage some groups or members of society, how prostitution is defined including how and why a person may become involved can now be examined.

It is also of crucial importance when examining how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice through its attempts to control deviance, is to have some understanding of how prostitution is defined including how and why a person may become involved. The term prostitution itself can be defined as being the exchange of sexual services for either money or other material products such as jewellery, clothing or food (McElroy 2001: 121). Whenever debates about prostitution arise they often revolve and centre around female prostitution rather than male prostitution as females make up the majority of all sex workers (Sullivan & Jeffreys 2002: 1144). Although prostitution is often seen as being immoral within most societies, it is often difficult to gain an understanding of the reasons as to why an individual chooses to enter into prostitution (McElroy 2001: 121). A number of factors need to be examined in order to explain how and why an individual becomes involved with prostitution.

The first factor which needs to be examined is that of the varying types of prostitution which exist that an individual may become involved with although only the four most predominant types will be examined. The first of these is that of street prostitution, which involves a sex worker walking or waiting on a particular street for a client (Quadara 2008: 3). The next type is that of brothel work in which a sex worker works for or operates from within a brothel, although the brothel takes a percentage from each client (Quadara 2008: 3). The third type is that of escort work, in which a sex worker will be contacted by an escort agency which will arrange for them to provide services at the clients location (Quadara 2008: 3). The last type of prostitution is that of private sex work, which involves a sex worker providing services from their own business or home location, which unlike brothel work the sex worker is independent and a percentage is not taken from every client (Quadara 2008: 3). With an understanding of the various types of prostitution, the next factor which contributes to an individual becoming involved with prostitution can be examined.

The next factor to be examined which assists in explaining how and why an individual becomes involved with prostitution, is that the individual willingly chooses to enter into prostitution (Carpenter 2000: 93). Many individuals who choose to enter into prostitution view it as being just like any other job, where in the individual is providing a service and selling their skills and expertise much like any other job whilst at the same time earns well above the minimum wage (Carpenter 2000: 93). Although society continues to look down upon prostitution, it is ultimately an individual's choice as to whether he or she wishes to sell their body for sexual services (Ekberg 2004: 1188). There are even instances in which prostitution is seen as being a viable and legitimate career option in which women are even encouraged to enter into prostitution as is the case in the Netherlands (Ekberg 2004: 1188). With an understanding of why an individual may willingly enter into prostitution, the remaining factors where the individual is not so willing can now be examined.

The third factor to be examined is that of the individual's psychological state. Many early examinations to explain why individual's became prostitutes often revolved around the idea that they had to be mentally unstable, although further studies revealed that many individual's entered into prostitution as a result of their environment and surroundings (Morris & Hawkins 1970: 21). The family background of an individual may also contribute to their involvement with prostitution as many prostitutes have often suffered some form of family breakdown, domestic violence, sexual abuse, alcohol abuse or drug abuse which may contribute to their entrance into prostitution (Carpenter 2000: 88). Arising from these forms of abuse are those individuals who may be forced into prostitution as a result of human trafficking in which they are promised an escape from their current life only to end up having to work as a prostitute (Ekberg 2004: 1190).

The last factor to be examined which assists in explaining how and why an individual becomes involved with prostitution, is that of the individual's economic state. Individuals may also enter into prostitution of out a sheer need to survive and earn money as it may be the only job option available to them (Anderson 2002: 756). Many individuals may also enter into prostitution in order to supplement their income as result of increased family responsibilities, becoming a sole income earner or divorce (Quadara 2008: 3). Prostitution is also becoming prevalent amongst university students, as many students who struggle to pay their fees turn to prostitution as a way of supporting themselves through university (Quadara 2008: 4). With a deeper understanding of how prostitution is defined including how and why individuals become involved, it can now be understood what the current laws and policies are pertaining to prostitution which see them become disadvantaged.

Equally, it is crucial when examining how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice through its attempts to control deviance, is to have some understanding of what the current laws and policies are pertaining to prostitution which see them become disadvantaged. It is often through the implementation of these laws and policies that regulate prostitution which often see them become disadvantaged within society (Sullivan & Jeffreys 2002: 1140). Laws and policies regulating prostitution are often formulated around three dominant models of control, with the first of these being that of prohibition, where all prostitution is illegal (West 2000: 106). The next model is that of legalization, where prostitution is state regulated through licensing and the registration of sex workers (West 2000: 106). The last model which these laws and policies are formulated around is that of decriminalisation, where in the criminal penalties associated with prostitution are removed and it becomes regulated under employment laws (West 2000: 106).

As a result of much debate about how prostitution should be regulated, several states within Australia initiated changes throughout the 1990's to their prostitution laws (Weitzer 2008: 90). The Prostitution Control Act was implemented within Victoria in 1994, with the main purpose being that of seeking to control prostitution within Victoria as well as affecting the way in which prostitutes and brothels are able operate and conduct their business (s.1 Prostitution Control Act 1994 (Vic)). This Act brought about several changes to the way in which prostitution is able to be carried out within Victoria, legalising licensed brothels, escort agencies and private escorts although street prostitution remains illegal (Quadara 2008: 17). Further changes were also brought about as brothels were only able to operate so long as they obtain a license and adhere to many strict control measures including regular health checks for workers and distancing themselves from residential areas and schools (Quadara 2008: 17).

Although it was hoped that the introduction of the Prostitution Control Act would control and slow the growth of prostitution, it has had the opposite outcome with an increase in the number of licensed brothels to almost 100 and 300 unlicensed brothels which only further disadvantages prostitution within society (Sullivan & Jeffreys 2002: 1142). Furthermore since its inception the main objectives of the Prostitution Control Act in regards to only the prostitute have been to protect them from health risks, violence and exploitation but to also protect society from the effects of prostitution (s.4 Prostitution Control Act 1994 (Vic)). Despite these objectives prostitutes continue to be further systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and justice within society as they now have to adhere to much tougher laws, which has led to an increase in the sexual exploitation of these workers through tabletop dancing and peep shows (Sullivan & Jeffreys 2002: 1142).

Although the Prostitution Control Act may have legalised most forms of prostitution within Victoria reducing the risks of working as a prostitute, they continue to be disadvantaged by criminal law and justice as they are now more than ever labelled by political figures as well as the media as being sleazy, dirty and detestable with no care for sexual morality (Weitzer 2008: 24). Further debates are continuing within Western Australia regarding whether or not prostitution should be legalised, as it is believed that implementing laws which legalise prostitution similar to that of the Prostitution Control Act in Victoria will only seek to further disadvantage prostitution within society (Weitzer: 2008: 89). With a deeper understanding of what the current laws and policies are pertaining to prostitution which see them become disadvantaged, it can now be understood how different theories help to explain how and why this disadvantage is occurring.

Furthermore it is of crucial importance when examining how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice through its attempts to control deviance, is to have some understanding of how different theories help to explain how and why this disadvantage is occurring. The theories provided by Habermas, Durkheim and Weber will be examined to help explain this disadvantage. Habermas' crisis theory must first be divided into four separate crises, which include fiscal, legitimation, rationality and motivation (Jones & Ward 2002: 478). This disadvantage can help to be explained using the fiscal crisis theory as the state will often concentrate on strengthening economic growth often neglecting state expenditure, such as its reluctance to address social causes of crime resulting in an increase in prostitution (Habermas 1988: 46).

Habermas' legitimation crisis can also be used to help explain this disadvantage, as this crisis often arises once the state's ability to act begins to waver, forcing them to try and win back some loyalty (Jones & Ward 2002: 478). This often results in the implementation of laws which attempt to deal with social issues which in this case is prostitution although it often results in their further disadvantage within society (Habermas 1988: 47). The third crisis which can be used to help explain this disadvantage is that of a rationality crisis, which is a direct result of the state being overloaded with multiple demands which it is unable to effective deal with (Habermas 1988: 47).

As a result of this overload, rushed decisions are often made to address the situation as is the case with criminal law and justice further systematically disadvantaging prostitution within society (Habermas 1988: 50). The final crisis theory which can be used to help explain this disadvantage is that of a motivation crisis, which is a result of a decline in internal forces which keep individuals committed to everyday lives (Jones & Ward 2002: 478). As a result there is often an increase in the adoption of anti social beliefs and values, which may also lead to an increase in the number of individuals involved with prostitution (Habermas 1988: 50).

The next theory to be examined is that of Durkheim's collective consciousness, in which he proposes that society is held together by a group of unifying social values where in the collective consciousness is based on respect for the individual (Durkheim 1893: 124). Where in respect for the individual is based upon the values of freedom, human dignity, tolerance and diversity which are embedded within social life (Garland 1990: 37). As a result of this theory of collective consciousness, shared and dominant social values are often reflected in criminal law and justice, where in society does not condemn a crime because it is a crime, rather it is a crime because society condemns it to being a crime (Durkheim 1893: 124). By employing Durkheim's theory of collective consciousness it can now be further understood how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and justice, as society chooses to view prostitution as being a crime which in turn must be punished and dealt with (Garland 1990: 39).

The final theory to be examined is that of Weber's class, status and party theory, in which class refers to individuals with the same economic opportunities of income and goods possession which in turn belong to the same economic class (Weber 1991: 181). Compared to class, status refers to the honour or social respect credited to a community who share a particular style of life (Weber 1991: 187). The last aspect of this theory is that of the party which refers to a collective political action which may arise from shared class or status interests (Weber 1991: 194). By using Weber's theory of class, status and party it can now be further understood how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and justice. As class and status based actions often compete for domination in order to have control over the existing authority, which in turn leads to the further disadvantage of prostitution within society (Weber 1991: 195). With an understanding of how different theories help to explain how and why this disadvantage is occurring, individuals must remain aware that although criminal law and justice sets out to protect society as a whole it inevitably and systematically disadvantages some groups within society.

In conclusion, there are four particular areas that an individual should examine when investigating how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice through its attempts to control deviance. They should gain an understanding of how criminal law and justice disadvantage some groups or members of society, along with how prostitution is defined including how and why a person may become involved as well as what the current laws and policies are pertaining to prostitution which see them become disadvantaged, which will allow them to understand how different theories help to explain how and why this disadvantage is occurring. It is only by gaining an understanding into these areas that an individual can hope to be successful in examining how and why prostitution is systematically disadvantaged by criminal law and criminal justice through its attempts to control deviance.

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