History of prostitution

History of prostitution

The earliest forms of prostitution were the following: 

Greece

In ancient Greece, both women and men engaged in prostitution. The Greek word for prostitute is porne (Gr: πόρνη), derived from the verb pernemi (to sell). The English word pornography, and its corollaries in other languages, are directly derivative of the Greek word pornē (Gr: πόρνη). Female prostitutes could be independent and sometimes influential women. They were required to wear distinctive dresses and had to pay taxes. 

Rome

Prostitution in ancient Rome was legal, public and widespread. Even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval, as long as they demonstrated self-control and moderation in the frequency and enjoyment of sex.

India

A tawaif was a courtesan who catered to the nobility of South Asia, particularly during the era of the Mughal Empire. These courtesans would dance, sing, recite poetry and entertain their suitors at mehfils. Like the geisha tradition in Japan, their main purpose was to professionally entertain their guests. While sex was often incidental, it was not assured contractually. The most popular or highest-class tawaifs could often pick and choose between the best of their suitors. They contributed to music, dance, theatre, film and the Urdu literary tradition.

Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, prostitution was mostly prevalent in Singapore, due to its active ports. Certain districts of Singapore were dedicated brothel districts sanctioned by the colonial governments. As colonial powers entered the Asian countries, there was an increase in number of sailors at ports. Merchant ships carried large crews of men, who lacked the company of women for days on end.

Japan

The oiran were considered a type of yūjo (遊女) also known as a “woman of pleasure” or prostitute. Among the oiran, the tayū (太夫) was considered the highest rank of courtesan available only to the wealthiest and highest ranking men. To entertain their clients, oiran practiced the arts of dance, music, poetry and calligraphy as well as sexual services, and education was considered essential for sophisticated conversation. Many became celebrities of their times outside the pleasure districts. Their art and fashions often set trends among wealthy women. The last recorded oiran was in 1761

Middle ages

During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape, sodomy and masturbation. Augustine of Hippo is quoted saying, “if you expel prostitution from society, you will unsettle everything on account of lusts.” The general tolerance of prostitution was for the most part reluctant, and many people from the church urged prostitutes to reform.

Source: Wikipedia

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