Myths about Prostitution

Throughout our research, some very disturbing myths regarding prostitution and violence against prostitutes have emerged. There is evidence that these myths have also resulted in judicial decisions against victims of violence (2).

I have listed a few myths about prostitution, especially those that are more relevant to the topic of violence against sex trade workers. This list includes myths that are clearly contradictory to other beliefs held by the general public. This list will be updated as new myths are uncovered.

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Myth: Sex trade workers can not be raped. They do not have the right to refuse propositions of sexual acts (1).
When a sexual act is the result of physical force or intimidation/coercion, it is rape, regardless of the profession of the victim. One study showed that “on average, women are raped 16 times a year by pimps and 33 times a year by john s” (1).

Myth: Sex trade workers deserve to be raped and when assault occurs, there is “no harm…done to prostituted women” (2).
No one deserves to be hurt, dehumanized and humiliated.

Myth: Sex trade workers have forfeited their human rights. They should expect violence and are responsible for it (1).
Absolutely not! A profession should not define whether or not a human being ceases to remain a human being. This belief is dangerous to the well-being of prostitutes because it gives aggressors “permission” to attack someone who they perceive as less than human (1).

Myth: Women are prostitutes by choice (2).
Reasons for entry into sex work can include desperation, lack of economic choices, addiction, homeless, et cetera (3).

Myth: Sex trade workers are “lazy” and don’t want to have a “real” job (3).
There may be barriers to obtaining a “real” job. Women who work in the sex trade may not have a fixed address, have a criminal record, “lack marketable skills”, may be a single mom who can’t afford day care at “regular hours”…the list goes on… (3).

Myth: You can make a lot of money as a sex trade worker (3).
It’s not an easy way to make a living and there are many risks involved in becoming a sex trade worker. According to the Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver, “The monetary rewards are usually exaggerated: if prostitutes made half as much money as some people think, there would be no homeless or impoverished hookers on the street” (3).

Strong Woman

Resources:
(1) Sexual Violence and Women in the Sex Trade, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre
(2) Attitudes towards Prostitution and Acceptance or Rape Myths, by Ann Cotton, Melissa Farley, and Robert Baron (Journal of Applied Social Psychology – 2000) – Synopsis by Rus Ervin Funk
(3) Myths About Prostitutes: Separating Fact from Fiction, by J. Marlowe, Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver

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