Prostitution law varies widely from country to country, and between jurisdictions within a country. At one extreme, prostitution or sex work is legal in some places and regarded as a profession, while at the other extreme, it is a crime punishable by death in some other places.

In many jurisdictions, prostitution – the commercial exchange of sex for money, goods, service, or some other benefit agreed upon by the transacting parties – is illegal, while in others it is legal, but surrounding activities, such as soliciting in a public place, operating a brothel, and pimping, may be illegal. In many jurisdictions where prostitution is legal, it is regulated; in others it is unregulated. Where exchange of sex for money is criminalized, it may be the sex worker (most commonly), the client, or both, who are subject to prosecution.

Prostitution has been condemned as a single form of human rights abuse, and an attack on the dignity and worth of human beings. Other schools of thought argue that sex work is a legitimate occupation, whereby a person trades or exchanges sexual acts for money and/or goods. Some believe that women in developing countries are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and human trafficking, while others distinguish this practice from the global sex industry, in which “sex work is done by consenting adults, where the act of selling or buying sexual services is not a violation of human rights.” The term “sex work” is used interchangeably with “prostitution” in this article, in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO 2001; WHO 2005) and the United Nations (UN 2006; UNAIDS 2002)

Massachusetts Prostitution Laws

In the state of Massachusetts, prostitution is a serious criminal offense with equally serious repercussions. As with most states, there is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to allowing individuals to exchange sexual intercourse and sexual favors for money. But selling or accepting these favors is not the only illegal activity related to prostitution in the state of Massachusetts.

Prostitution in Massachusetts

There are many different activities related to the general definition of prostitution which are equally illegal in the eyes of the law. These include:

  • Enticing people away for prostitution or sexual intercourse. This makes it illegal for someone to entice or take an individual away from the home of their guardian in order to engage them in prostitution. It is punishable by imprisonment and a fine.
  • Owning an establishment that induces the exchange of sexual intercourse for money. This makes it against the law for owners or managers of an establishment to encourage and foster an environment for the exchange of sexual favors for money. This crime is punished with five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
  • Soliciting a prostitute. This simply states that anyone soliciting a prostitute or receiving compensation for the solicitation of a prostitute is subject to a year in jail and/or up to $500 in fines.
  • Sharing the earnings of a prostitute. According to this law whoever lives or derives support, either fully or partially, from the earnings of a prostitute is subject to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. This also applies to individuals who manage or collect from a house where prostitution is practiced.
  • Engaging in any sexual conduct for a fee. Under this law, anyone who engages, agrees to engage, or offers to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for a fee is subject to a year in jail and/or a fine up to $500. This also applies to anyone who pays or offers to pay another person in exchange for sexual favors.

For all these laws, the resulting punishment is incarceration and a fine. Although legal assistance can make these punishments less severe, it does not change the seriousness of this charge.

Prostitution is defined as the act of engaging in sexual activity for pay. Many people have moral objections to prostitution, while countries around the world have outlawed prostitution.

Many view prostitution as a way to exploit or be violent toward women and children. In recent years, human trafficking and sexual slavery around the world has been put in the spotlight. Worldwide, there are an estimated 42 million prostitutes that work in the sex industry. Residents of countries where the practice is banned often go to sex tourism destinations across Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It has been estimated that worldwide revenue from prostitution is over $100 billion annually.

There is evidence that prostitution has been an industry since ancient times, earning it the nickname of “the world’s oldest profession.”