Sex worker

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A sex worker is anyone who earns their living by providing sexual services. Some use this term to mean only prostitution, although the term is also used by others to refer to other workers in the sex industry such as erotic actors and nude models for pornography, striptease dancers and performers in peep shows, waiting staff in sexually-oriented businesses, live sex show workers, professional dominants, providers of erotic massage and phone sex workers.

In the US and other countries, there have been several efforts in recent years to gain legal recognition for sex workers, and prostitution is legal in brothels in the 13 rural counties of Nevada. In the Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand, sex workers already enjoy recognition by the state. The term "sex worker" is primarily used among people who support these protections. It is also used by public health workers who are trying to prevent or reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among these workers and their clients.

In practice the growth in sex tourism has led to a corresponding growth in the sex industry. Illegal sex tourism with under-age boys and girls has become a notorious problem in Costa Rica and Thailand, for example. Meanwhile a legal and consensual sex industry often makes a significant contribution to local economies. The Hamburg Reeperbahn is a licensed and taxed prostitution zone serving tourists from all over the world, whilst the sex industry has also tended to thrive around military bases. The British naval port of Portsmouth had a flourishing local sex industry in the nineteenth century for example, whilst in the present day young Korean women in the Itaewon district of Seoul receive money for satisfying the sexual needs of both American and South Korean soldiers.

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