Prostitution in Nevada and the Basque Country
Across the globe, the “world’s oldest profession” continues to ignite controversy and intrigue. Prostitution is a $186 billion dollar global industry that is characterized, practiced, and governed in highly disparate ways depending on the cultural and ideological context in which it is practiced. The scholars contributing to this volume span multiple countries and take up vastly different perspectives about sex work. The cultural framings of prostitution in the Basque country are quite different from how prostitution is framed in Nevada—the only state in the United States where prostitution is not illegal in a few areas. In some ways, prostitution is similar in both contexts: there are advocates for sex work as work in both locations, and there are anti-prostitution advocates in both contexts as well. Further, sex workers around the world face a higher risk of violence, stigma, and moral judgments about their character that can impede their everyday life experiences regardless of geographical location. Prostitution in Nevada includes illegal prostitution, occurring often on streets and in hotels. It also includes legal prostitution inside permitted brothels. The analysis of prostitution in the Basque Country must be placed within the European sociocultural and legal paradigm, where it is increasingly understood that prostitution is synonymous with human trafficking and exploitation. In the Basque case, not all prostitution is trafficking, but the vast majority is. The social cause that underlies it is fundamentally the feminization of poverty.