General Article What is prostitution?

Topic Selected: The Sex Trade
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Prostitution describes the offering and provision of sexual services for financial gain.

In the UK, prostitution itself is not illegal but there are a number of offences linked to it. For example, it is an offence to control a prostitute for gain, or to keep a brothel.

Prostitution has a close affinity with a host of other important social issues, in particular crime, drugs, sexual equality, poverty and health.

Although there are exceptions, most prostitutes are women selling their services to men.



Prostitution is sometimes referred to as ‘the oldest profession’, as it meets the natural urges of humans in return for money, and is often claimed to be as old as civilisation itself.

The legal regulation of prostitution in the UK was set out in the Sexual Offences Act 1956, which reflected the findings of the Wolfenden Committee investigation into prostitution and homosexuality that took place around

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