Street prostitution

Street prostitution is a common scenario for prostitution. Many consider that this form of sex work is more dangerous than other forms of sex work; however, some street based sex workers claim that street prostitution allows greater control over when the person works and what services they offer. Unlike brothel sex work, street based sex workers are often independent workers - meaning the amount of money charged is not shared with the brothel management or others.

Street prostitution (or actions closely associated with street prostitution) is illegal in most jurisdiction, including many of those which allow other forms of prostitution. In jurisdictions where prostitution is in itself legal, it is often an offence attempt to attempt to procure the services of a prostitute (or in the case of the prostitute, to attempt to gain a customer) in a public place. This offence is usually known as solicitation. Laws against solicitation often contain provisions specifically enacted against (or only enforced against) street prostitution. In parts of Australia however street based sex work is not illegal.


In street prostitution, the prostitute solicits customers while waiting at street corners or walking alongside a street, sometimes dressed in suggestive clothing. The act is performed in the customer's car or in a nearby alley or at the prostitute's apartment or rented room (motels that service prostitutes commonly rent rooms by the half or full hour, or in some countries safe houses, regulated by the local Government.

Street prostitutes are sometimes subjected to violence by their customers. It is notable that in affluent countries (USA, Western Europe) the correlation between street prostitution and illegal drug use is high. In contrast, prostitutes in the developing world are primarily motivated by the need for subsistence earnings for themselves or dependents. There are many instances of street prostitutes being targeted by serial killers because they routinely enter an unknown man's car, try to not bring attention to themselves or their clients, and often go missing for days and weeks before anyone notices. The most famous examples of this type of serial killings include Jack the Ripper, Gary Ridgway, The Hillside Stranglers, Arthur Shawcross, or Robert Pickton.

Differences from other forms of prostitution

Most "street hookers" work outside due to the fact that they control how they meet and where they service their clients, and because they are able to negotiate their own prices. They have the freedom to choose their dates, as opposed to receiving clients they have no prior knowledge of in a hotel room. The notion of all street workers having pimps is very outdated. Many sex workers work outside because they do not have to give a cut of their money to anyone, and they have the freedom to choose their own corners and hours. Brothel workers and call girls commonly also work as street sex workers if they want to make extra money that is 100% theirs, or have a drug addiction that makes working in brothels difficult. In smaller cities, transsexual and transgendered women often work as street prostitutes because they can choose not to offer complete service, thereby hiding their true sex more effectively. Street prostitution is easy and sometimes more profitable than other types of sex work in a society which is generally hostile to transsexuals and young sex workers.

Prison education

Some street prostitutes may be too uneducated to get or keep traditional employment, while others might be university graduates or students. The current trend in sentencing prostitutes in the United States is to try to educate them while they are in prison.

Street prostitution worldwide

Street prostitution is common all over the world. The majority of street prostitutes are native-born. One New York study indicated 87% are homeless or unstably housed. Drug use is prevalent. Some countries have decriminalized street prostitution; usually in restricted areas known as tolerance zones. Examples include the Netherlands, Germany,and Brazil.The UK is contemplating tolerance zones around Liverpool with a view to extending it nationwide in the future. In countries where street prostitution is regulated, the workers can access periodic medical check ups, and safe sex education and supplies. Brazil and Germany have legislated pension benefits for sex workers, including street prostitutes. However, a large percentage of prostitutes do not enlist in these state-sponsored services; presumably to maintain independence and higher income by avoiding tax and pension contributions. Street prostitution is a viable alternative for many young poor people who otherwise wouldn't be able to make a decent living, because of the lack of opportunities. High-earning potential at the beginning of a sex-work career often does not translate into financial security in middle--or old--age. Mexico City's municipal government and Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador, recognizing the dire situation faced by street prostitutes after a lifetime spent serving the sexual needs of their customers, announced in June 2005 the establishment of the Xochiquetzal Home for elderly prostitutes.

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