Prostitution is Against Women’s Human Rights


Prostitution is Against Women’s Human Rights
by Azadeh Azad

So much could be written about the institution of prostitution, but here I only write down a few ideas that might open the eyes of those who see nothing wrong with making light of prostitution (calling it humour) and giving playful and fun advice to men for when they go “whoring,” as “Shazde Asdola Mirza” puts it in his "fiction."


Prostitution is against women’s human rights!

In most cases around the world, prostitution is not a conscious and calculated choice. Most women who become prostitutes do so because of extreme poverty and lack of opportunity, or of serious underlying problems such as drug addiction, past trauma (especially child sexual abuse) and other unfortunate circumstances. Or they were forced or coerced by a pimp or by human trafficking.  If prostitution is a free choice, why are the women with the fewest choices the ones most often found doing it?

In prostitution, women have sex with men they would never otherwise have sex with. The money thus acts as a form of force, not as a measure of consent. It acts like physical force does in rape.

Some prostitution scholars hold that true consent in prostitution is impossible: "In the academic literature on prostitution there are very few authors who argue that valid consent to prostitution is possible. Most suggest that consent to prostitution is impossible or at least unlikely."( Barbara Sullivan, Rethinking Prostitution and “Consent”, 1995, in Caine, B. & Pringler, R. (eds.) Transitions . Allen & Unwin: Sydney.)

No person can be said to truly consent to their own oppression and no people should have the right to consent to the oppression of others. In the words of Kathleen Barry, consent is not a “good divining rod as to the existence of oppression, and consent to violation is a fact of oppression. Oppression cannot effectively be gauged according to the degree of “consent,” since even in slavery there was some consent, if consent is defined as inability to see, or feel any alternative.”( Barry, K "The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women". 1995.  New York: NYU Press.)

Sexual liberation for women is extremely important in the fight for gender equality, but it is crucial that society does not replace one patriarchal view on female sexuality—e.g., that women should not have sex outside marriage/a relationship, that casual sex is shameful for a woman etc.—with another similarly oppressive and patriarchal view—prostitution, a sexual practice which is based on a highly patriarchal construct of sexuality: that the sexual pleasure of a woman is irrelevant, that her only role during sex is to submit to the man’s sexual demands, and to do what he tells her, that sex should be controlled by the man and that the woman’s response and satisfaction are irrelevant.  Sexual liberation for women cannot be achieved as long as we normalize unequal sexual practices where a man dominates a woman.

Prostitution is a form of male dominance over women. In the act of prostitution,  the client has sex with a woman who does not enjoy it and who is making a tremendous psychological effort to mentally dissociate herself from the client. It is not a mutual and equal sex act,  as it puts the woman in a subordinate position, reducing her to a mere instrument of sexual pleasure for the client. Many clients use the services of the prostitutes because they enjoy the "power trip" they derive from the act and the control they have over the woman during the sexual activity. Prostitution isn't sex only, it’s you do what I say, sex.

Prostitution is a practice which leads to serious negative long term effects for the prostitutes, such as severe trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, self-medication through alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders and a greater risk for self-harm and suicide, as prostitution is an exploitative practice, which involves a woman who has sex with customers to whom she is not attracted, and which also routinely exposes the women to psychological, physical and sexual violence.

Prostitution reinforces the idea that women are sex objects which exist for men's enjoyment, which can be "bought" and which can be "used" solely for men's sexual gratification. When a society accepts prostitution, it sends the message that it is irrelevant how the woman feels during sex or what the consequences of sex will be for her, and that it is acceptable for a man to engage in sexual activity with a woman who does not enjoy it and who is mentally and emotionally forcing herself in order to be able to cope. It is very much like the husband and wife relationship within a practicing Muslim family that follows the Sharia Law.

Although the normalization of such one sided sexual encounters might negatively affect the way men relate to women in general and might increase sexual violence against women, I do believe in decriminalization of prostitution - not its legalization. Legalization is a messy way to go about protecting prostitutes. Legalization has led to more black market prostitution and child prostitution. It does not work.  Research has proven to be much more effective if we simply decriminalize it. That way, women can work for themselves and are not under the tyranny of pimps (or "entrepreneurs" as they are called when legalized).  

Decriminalization of prostitution needs a separate blog and discussion.



more from Azadeh Azad
Soosan Khanoom


by Soosan Khanoom on

When poverty and lack of education force a woman to do this out of desperation, when young girls are dragged into this against their wills then I do not find these women guilty or even let myself to question their morality.   That is nothing but slavery...   

I, however , as you mentioned question the morality of the young girls who marry older men for money ........... no body force these women to get married ...... this is a choice that they make and a deliberate decision ....... Marriage is a long term commitment and should be based on love not money ... how can it not be questionable?  

Anahid Hojjati

I agree with David

by Anahid Hojjati on

Yes, many prostitutes were abused and are into drugs, etc, so let' s prevent abuse and address drug. However, who is to say that a prostitute is worse than many women who marry rich guys just for their money? Those women are also offering their youth, beauty, etc. In return for a monetary measure. So why be super negative on Prostitution but not write about millions of women who make mating decisions based on wealth? Any way, I believe just like David said, if a woman wants to sleep and get paid for it, it is between her and the guy. I don't see a huge moral gap between such a woman and the one who marries for money. Difference is in number of partners but principle is the same, a woman offering sex and companionship in return for monetary benefits.

Azadeh Azad

David aziz

by Azadeh Azad on

Thanks. I'm thinking about what you are saying. We'll discuss this important issue later, if you don't mind. I need to do more readings to clarify things in my mind first.



Azadeh Azad

Monda jan

by Azadeh Azad on

Thank you.

Yes, there are male prostitutes and there are much more invisible than females sex workers. I think male prostitutes are present more in homosexual communities than heterosexual ones – which again demonstrate male domination and the way the majority of men around the world view sex and sexuality: commodity.

I think the reason why men detach their sexuality from their emotions is precisely because they belong to a gender that must dominate in order to define itself: the only way for any human being to dominate another human being and hurt her/him (emotionally, physically, sexually) is to detach himself from his deep human emotions and become psychologically divided.

I do not agree that “there always is need for the prostitution.” Prostitution as a social institution is not needed at all. When you speak of “desperate human conditions reaching for it,” you are addressing exceptional situations. These types of situations do not lead, and have never led, to the establishment of a social institution. Occasional sexual service would not create a whole world vision such as the one that people around the world are having regarding male-female relationship.

“Not a Love Story” has happened in our present world and with our present mind-set. Why is it that I – a woman with high libido -have never propositioned money for sex with a man? The character in Not a Love Story did not have a sexual urge that *hat do* be satisfied. Sex is in our brain, not in our genitalia. It is related to hormones, but culture plays a major role in shaping it. Just think of East-Indians who die of hunger on the streets where cows are taking a walk :-)

 I do not look at prostitution from a moralistic point of view. So, I have no judgment against the sex workers (male or female.) But I do oppose Johns, pimps and traffickers, and judge them harshly.

Yes, doing research on prostitution alone would take a life time. It’s a huge subject.




by yolanda on

Hi! ComraidsConcubine,

   I clicked on the link you provided and read the story at work.....OMG! I was shocked......I had to read the story when nobody was watching me.....:O) an eye opening story!

  I did not know all the secret stories!


David ET

No to Governments minding people´s lives

by David ET on

I am a strong opponent of Government intervention in people´s choices.

Government is to protect people and create opportunities, prevent human trafficking etc... but should not be given any right to decide on adult decisions.

If two people chose to have sex in exchange for love, money, diamond, car, beer or pleasure, that is their decision and governments must stay out of it.


Azadeh Azad

Some other responses

by Azadeh Azad on

comments: you're right (in both comments.) 

Esfand jan: thanks for the link and the comment.

ComraidsConcubine: that was a great story. Thanks.

vildemose: thanks.

Souri jan: thank you for your truthful comment. I did not see that poem, but yes, for many men sex and violence and domination have become the three aspects of the same idea. And I totally agree with the gist of what you are saying: the more aggressive and domineering the man, the weaker and fearful he is.

 Soosan: thank you for your kind comment. The article on the Hip-hop Culture is a very good one. Thanks for the link.

Iranmarzban: Phallocracy is the same as Male-domination, except that it is used for linguistic and cultural aspects of this domination. You are wrong when you say it is not relevant today. It is relevant to all today's societies,  including Iran. There is no doubt that many Iranian women are Shir-Zan, marching in front of the anti-government protests; however, this fact has not diminished Iranian men's phallocentric worldview. Just read the comments, and sometimes the stories and blogs written by men on this site. And some women, who are fascinated by male power, do like these misogynist comments or writings.

Manouchehr jan: thank you for the info. I had read them on the Internet and they are very helpful for the readers on this site.


Azadeh Azad


by Azadeh Azad on

There is a debate on Legalization versus Decriminalization. I tend to opt for the latter (for now.) I'll be writing about this debate in another blog.

Azadeh Azad

Sheila K

by Azadeh Azad on

 Yes, there are variations in prostitution, occuring in different settings.

However, I do not agree with the view that some form of prostitution is a practice of female domination. This requires more research, but your example of Ashley Dupre is in fact a mirage. We don't know if she was on drug or not - especially during sex - and we don't know if she was physically abused or not, as there are some forms of sex that do physically hurt woman (or man) beyond genitalia. A lot of money was offered to Ashly, which could be withdrawn at any moment if she did not go along with Eliot's wishes. I don't see any female dominance here.

Different types of prostitution take place in different settings:

 In street prostitution the prostitute solicits customers while waiting at street corners or walking alongside a street.  

Prostitution occurs in some massage parlors and in Asian countries in some barber shops where sexual services may be offered for an additional tip.

Where prostitution is more out in the open, solicitation is done at bars, even open-air bars. Thailand is famous world-wide for these establishments.

Brothels are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution, often confined to special red-light districts in big cities. 

Prostitution can also take place in the prostitute's apartment and in many countries this is the only legal form of prostitution. A hybrid between brothel and apartment prostitution exists in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, China and the Netherlands: female prostitutes rent tiny one-room apartments in red-light districts and solicit customers from behind windows.

 In escort or out-call prostitution, the customer calls an agency and the act takes place at the customer's place of residence or more commonly at his hotel room. This form of prostitution often shelters under the umbrella of escort agencies, who supply attractive escorts for social occasions. While some escort agencies provide non-sexual services only, many turn a blind eye to escorts who provide additional sexual services or actively encourage them. Alternately, an escort may work independently of an agency and place advertisements in newspapers and magazines for his or her own services. In the US and Canada, escort agencies advertise frequently on the Internet and example advertisements can be readily found on any major search engine.

To read more:



my take

by Monda on

First off, thank you Azadeh jan for writing this engaging blog. I have a few thoughts that I'd like to share with you:

Prostitutes, female or male, make choices based on their circumstances. In all countries, including Iran, there are male prostitutes which we don't read much about since the profession is as you write, dominated by women. I don't read that as your focus in writing this blog. So we put that aside.

Is prostitution, in its unlegalized form, against Human Rights? Yes, as much as using women or men to smuggle drugs inside their bodies. Can I compare selling sex with selling drugs? I think I can. As both are means toward sustaining life in harsh traumatic conditions. As you know, Often times prostitution and drug use are directly correlated. As In Shazde's story, where I read woman sells sex in order to afford husband's drug habit. Legal system in Iran is Pathetic indeed, no doubt. As it is its view of woman's role, no doubts.

The discussion about women or men who choose to sell sex for an easier life may not even belong on this thread. But those are also valid, with respect to sellers' (distorted) relationships with sex, money and control.

With regards to Shazde: I have enjoyed reading his stories (fiction or non, doesn't matter to me, depending on my mood and as long as I have sufficient processing time). Have I been offended by his arrogance? You bet I have, especially when he has written about topics other than his personal life (for example, his wife's depression share put me to tears because I identified with both of their positions... Again fiction or not, didn't matter to me, it was his style of expression that got to me).

But I also love Shazde's stories as well as his style of writing them because of his originality and honesty of expression. As to me, he is the prominent psyche of a learned Iranian man. Not only of his/our generation, but even today. So I learn from him, often in very entertaining format. 

I dare to say that Shazde portrays the core values of men in most societies. Shazde's forte is certainly Not political correctness. In this day and age, honestly what instantly sounds politically correct requires much investigation about the intension of such portrayals. (i.e. Political agenda of the colonialist powers, UK and US, in propagating drug use and prostitution in harsh economic times, in underdeveloped countries ...)

I think that there always is need for the prostitution as there is understanding of desperate human conditions in reaching for it. As in the Love Story mentioned. A person was desperate for intimate human contact, so he reached out for it, the best way he knew how. I don't see a problem with that. Just as i don't negatively judge the women who go to male prostitutes. As an Iranian woman, the latter is hard for me to swallow but that's a different story which I should blog about one day. Basically, Me and some women of my generation have our own ideals of romance and values around physical contact. 

Again, thank you for your well-written blog. There's much that we still need to learn on the bases of collective values regarding the horrifying inferior position of women in Iran and elsewhere, and the dominant economic realities. And I do appreciate your article in that direction. Not only for those who may use Shazde's material as modeling guide for their core belief acquisitions or adaptations, but also for me and those who enjoy reading a healthy debate. So I'll be back here to read on your exchanges.

M. Saadat Noury

Some Observations

by M. Saadat Noury on

1. The term of Phallocrasy cannot be found on Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary. The same Dictionary however defines Phallocentric as “Having the male or male sexual feelings or activity, as the main subject of interest”.
2. In 1949, the UN General Assembly adopted a convention stating that "prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person", requiring all signing parties to punish pimps and brothel owners and operators and to abolish all special treatment or registration of prostitutes. As of January 2009, the convention was ratified by 95 member nations including France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and not ratified by another 97 member nations including Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
3. Prostitution may be considered a form of exploitation (e.g. Sweden, Norway, Iceland, where it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them — the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute), a legitimate occupation (e.g., Netherlands, Germany, where prostitution is regulated as a profession) or a crime (e.g., many Muslim countries, where the prostitutes face severe penalties).
4. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being legal and considered a profession to being punishable by death. Some jurisdictions outlaw the act of prostitution (the exchange of sexual services for money); other countries do not prohibit prostitution itself, but ban the activities typically associated with it (soliciting in a public place, operating a brothel, pimping etc.), making it difficult to engage in prostitution without breaking any law; while in a few countries prostitution is legal and regulated.
Read more:


Love story was beautiful.

by comments on

There are so many financially struggled women who sleep with men in a regular basis, but never ask for money.  On the other side, we see well-off prostitutes. I think the Love Story suggested by Comar.. was beautiful.  Prostitution is a very difficult subject to discuss.  I really think that should be discussed with prostitutes themselves or whore-men of their clients (or people with those experiences).  Or, at least with men or women with active sex life or background.  Sex desire or hormones’ metabolism is not the same in everybody.  When someone has a minimum sex life (Psychological or Physical) I really don't see any points to be discussed by that person because of lack of understanding.  When a criminal case is discussed the research subjects/observations are criminals and their abused opponents.  I personally think that 80 % of Iranian women/girls have been deprived of sex life because of the culture and their belief.  They usually don’t see sex as a beautiful subject at least in a period of their own life.   


the word phallocrasy

by IranMarzban on

phallocrasy : a society or system dominated by men 

this word refers to ancient greece society and is not relevant today womens are core of iran and they are in charge they are in front of anti gov protests and etc.. so phallocrasy about today iran ?! our women are SHIR ZAN  

Soosan Khanoom

Azadeh jan

by Soosan Khanoom on

I admire your take on this issue and the stand you took against that pathetic blog .... I just read his blog and replied but I am not sure all my replied are still there ........ 

I also should thank you for this informative blog that you have started here.

We need more voices like yours in this community ...

Especially today that these exploitations are way beyond just street girls. We can see them in hip hop music and it has become a new age of women bashing and enslavements....... check this out 

The Exploitation of Women in Hip-hop Culture
By Ayanna





Azadeh khanom

by Souri on

I haven't read that blog, because I don't read anything from that writer, since a long while. I know they are not worthy of my time and interest, so just skip them very proudly and happily.

But here I just read your comment about "phallocracy" on that blog. I must say, I agree with you %100 about the Phallocracy among our fellow Iranian gentlemen.

Although we must avoid generalizing (for sure) but in a very large scale, our Iranians gentlemen are unfortunately very much in love with their penis and they think mostly with their genitalia (especially when they think they must get in a battle) they always resort to their penis and what they will be able to do with it!

Example: when they are in a harsh argument, they just want to f$$k the sister and mother of their opponent! Or even they always dream of tearing the ass of their enemy. They write poems about how they will do it, which will make the ass "pareh pareh" then how the cum will come out of it and how the enemy won't be able to walk after that......etc, etc!

 This, of course is mostly from the most fearful, incapable and weakest ones. The same that in front of a powerful and strong "enemy" will play a dead mouse with their mouth shut by fear!

Because the brave men who dare to talk, never write poems about the dirty dreams. They just fight and end up in prison or get killed!


Excellent and very

by vildemose on

Excellent and very appropriate post in light of thinly-veiled mysogynisitic humor wrapped in so-called fake altruism. Thanks.


What about Jahanshah?

by ComraidsConcubine on



Esfand Aashena

Some pictures from Shahr No by the famed Kaveh Golestan

by Esfand Aashena on

“I want to show you images that will be like a slap in your face to shatter your security. You can look away, turn off, hide your identity like murderers, but you can not stop the truth. No one can.” Kaveh Golestan (1950 – 2003)

Photos: Tehran's brothel district Shahr-e-No 1975-77 by Kaveh Golestan 

Everything is sacred

Esfand Aashena

There are many human rights violations & we don't even know it.

by Esfand Aashena on

I also like to point out that I believe nearly all men will at some in their life time, be it in their teens young adulthood or middle or old ages, experience "sex" with a prostitude.  Now this can be anything from oral sex to other forms.  They can all deny it but we all know better.

In the case of Iran, be it Shah or Islamic Republic, boys and girls go to boys and girls schools and don't interact with each other and don't even know "how" to interact with each other as they go through their teens.  This becomes a problem later on in life.

I'd like to point out that when men have sex with a prostitute they have a different "dream" than the experience they end up having.  As you mention in your article they think of having "sex" and are all giddy but when they actually go through it and see the poor conditions and the mental stage the prostitute is in, it's a whole different experience.  Many feel guilty being there and many never go there again.  Basicaly it's not as "advertised", neither for men or women, but of course women are the ones "stuck" in this abuse for the long haul.

Sex trafficking these days be it trafficking young girls from Iran or other Middle Eastern or Eastern European or even right here in the USA is a horrible crime.  I think for people who engage in these kind of brutal human trafficking the punishments should be very severe but unfortunately the criminals have found loopholes to get less punishment or get away from their crimes altogether.  New laws are coming though and we should see improvements. 

Everything is sacred

David ET


by David ET on

It exists and making it illegal denies them of even legal rights.

Prostitution must be legalized.

...and also measures must be taken to protect these women and assist them seek alternative education and emplyment.


I agree that ...

by comments on

I agree that both female and male prostitutions are correlated with prostitute's mental health problem.

Sheila K

agreed but...

by Sheila K on

there are variations in prostitution though. I agree that poverty and abuse (drugs, family, sexual...) are the 2 primary reasons women resort to prostitution. But there are always women like Ashley Dupre who was Eliot Spitzer's prostitute who was never abused and was not on drugs--according to her own claims. In such cases, prostitution is not necessarily a male dominance if any it's often female dominance especially when there is a lot of money involved.