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Risks of Prostitution: When the Person Is the Product


In the traditional model of consumer risk, the product that is consumed is understood to be the agent that is imbued with risks. In prostitution, it is the woman who is being consumed as a commodity who is at great risk,in spite of the fact that prostitution is sometimes (erroneously) described as “sex between consenting adults.” Prostitution occurs because the person being consumed as product would not consent to sex with the buyer unless he paid for it. Thus, the notion that it is the consumer who is at risk for harm via consumption of a product is sometimes inappropriate and the model itself needs to be re-framed. This is the case with prostitution, where the prostituted person is at far greater risk than the sex buyer or the pimp.A sex buyer in a research interview explained that

Being with a prostitute is like having a cup of coffee, when you’re done, you throw it out. —Farley et al. (2015, 13)


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