AskDefine | Define streetwalking

Extensive Definition

right|thumb|A stereotypical street-walker in Germany.Street prostitution is a specific form of prostitution in which the sex worker operates from the street. Although this form of sex work can be more dangerous than other forms of sex work, 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 (1) the amount of money charged is not shared with the brothel management or others and (2) they can make their own decisions about which customers to accept.
Street prostitution or actions closely associated with street prostitution are illegal in many jurisdictions, including many of those which allow other forms of prostitution. In jurisdictions where prostitution is in itself legal, it is often an offence 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 include provisions specifically designed for (or only enforced against) street prostitution. In parts of Australia street based sex work is not illegal.


The street prostitute solicits customers while waiting at street corners or walking alongside a street, sometimes dressed in suggestive clothing. The sex act may be performed in the customer's car or in a nearby alley, or at the prostitute's apartment or in a 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 .


In affluent countries (USA, Western Europe) the correlation between street prostitution and illegal drug use is high. In the developing world, prostitutes are primarily motivated by the need for subsistence earnings for themselves or dependents. Street prostitutes risk being subjected to violence by their customers, including 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 may 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, and Robert Pickton.

Differences from other forms of prostitution

Most street prostitutes work outside, controlling how they meet and where they service their clients, and will negotiate their own prices. They have the freedom to reject their clients (although their own financial needs may constrain these choices). The notion of all street workers having pimps is very outdated. In smaller cities, transsexual and transgendered women often work as street prostitutes because they can choose not to offer complete service, thereby hiding their physical gender more effectively. Brothel workers and call girls may make extra money as street sex workers.

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 street prostitutes become sex workers as a result of being too uneducated to get or keep traditional employment. The current trend when sentencing prostitutes in the United States is to try to educate them while they are in prison.
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 the idea 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; possibly to maintain independence and higher income by avoiding tax and pension contributions.
Street prostitution is seen as a viable alternative by many young poor people who otherwise wouldn't be able to make a decent living, because of the lack of opportunities. However, 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.


External links

  • Street prostitution by Michael S. Scott, US DOJ Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series, No. 2 (PDF file)
  • Website documenting lives of women involved in street prostitution.
streetwalking in German: Straßenprostitution
streetwalking in Dutch: Tippelprostitutie
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