Prostitution is, they say, ‘the oldest profession in the world’ and, as far as the historical record goes, it’s at least close to being so. The first mention of prostitution that we know of was 5,500 years ago, in the city of Uruk, in Sumer in Mesopotamia, where priestesses in the Temple of Inanna performed this service.
The religious connection with prostitution, of course, is one that has long since been lost — though we might discuss it in another piece; yet of course, the practice continues. Until recently, in fact, the major push to suppress prostitution was itself religious, coming from, in particular the Protestant Christian traditions and notably the Anglican one, which has always been a pillar of sex-negativity and repression.
Of recent decades, however, the attempt to prevent women from engaging in prostitution has come from other women. Indeed, it has become a bastion of modern feminism. But this throws up a thorny moral question: do we or do we not have the right to do as we will with our own bodies?
There are three parameters that I think define the level of freedom we actually enjoy. I call them the ‘3 Ps’.
They are Pot, Porn and Prostitution. Why have I chosen these three? Well, it’s not a recent thing, and I have thought about it for years.
I could use transgender rights, since, as readers will be aware, this is an area that concerns me deeply; but while we will certainly discuss these, the issue is too specific. I could use women’s rights but that’s the opposite: too vague — and in any case the 3Ps allow us to consider this question. I could use taxation but goodness me, everyone has a different view.
Separation of Church and State? Yeah, but again, too vague. Children’s rights? The same. Treatment of ethnic minorities — which ones? And how?
I wanted a small number, not more than three, of very specific measures that had certain things in common.