That Right Education: University of California, Berkeley (1975), that say it all
On Wednesday, California Democrat Barbara Lee
proposed a resolution in the House of Representatives that claims women will eventually be forced into prostitution in order to obtain life-sustaining food and water for their families.
In early Islamic cultures, the harem was a form of slave prostitution, and men of wealth purchased hundreds of slaves for their harems. Men could sell their slaves and concubines at will, but were not supposed to sell them into prostitution, which was illegal under Islamic law. Some did anyway, and prostitution was tolerated, though kept behind the scenes by the muhtasib--the morals police who had the power to punish prostitutes on sight. The lowest class of prostitutes in India were the khumbhadasi. They came from the lower castes of society and had nominal legal protection from the State. Since marriage and prostitution were the only options available to women in Indian society, widows who failed to commit suttee had few, if any, alternatives. In China, all prostitution was confined to brothels. The lowest class, called wa-shê, first appeared during the Han dynasty (206 B.C.--24 C.E.), and was filled with women criminals or the female relatives of male criminals, prisoners of war, and slaves. They had few legal rights and numerous social disabilities. They were used to service soldiers and the poorest elements of male society.
Prostitution in medieval Europe was influenced by the views of the early Christian church. It was seen as a necessary evil, and therefore tolerated, although Church officials condemned the practice and encouraged women to give up the trade. The lowest class prostitutes of the Byzantine Empire were in brothels peopled with girls from the countryside who had been sold by their parents in time of economic need. In early Germanic societies, voluntary prostitution was a crime against the male relatives of the prostitute and was severely punished, but the sexual exploitation of female slaves was practiced. Prostitution increased with urbanization, and the lowest class of prostitutes were serfs who fled to the cities. They made up the ranks of camp followers who plied their trade at military garrisons and followed the armies in the field. Prostitutes were required to wear distinguishing dress, and there was concern about public soliciting. As urbanization increased, prostitutes began to cluster in certain areas of the cities, especially near universities and around the public baths or "stews." As in modern times, "public women"  were identified with venereal disease. Pimping was illegal in most places, probably in an attempt to control the street crime which was associated with it, although stories of mothers selling their daughters into prostitution abound. By the Renaissance, regulation of prostitution existed throughout Europe. Wages, rents, hours, and health examinations were all controlled by the various governments. Fear of syphilis, at that time as deadly a disease as AIDS is today, led to the closing of the stews and the removal of most prostitutes to brothels. Unfortunately, those women who were evicted from the brothels due to disease were left with no choice but to ply their trade in the streets. In some areas, prostitution was outlawed entirely, but strict regulation and some efforts at reforming prostitutes were the norm. None of these measures succeeded in reducing prostitution, and in 1490 the official register recorded 7000 prostitutes in Rome and over 11,000 in Venice. Since street prostitutes were not registered, these numbers represent a minimum.
Street prostitution has always been the most visible form of the profession. Composed of women from the lowest classes of society, it is unarguably the lowest status that a woman could have. It was not, however, the most prevalent form of prostitution. That distinction goes to the middle-class of the profession, the women in brothels.
Women in Brothels
In the Islamic world, an interesting custom arose called mut'a. This was a form of temporary marriage, which could be for as short as one hour, in exchange for money. This was not considered prostitution, though it meets most modern definitions. Many of the women who practiced this were married and did so with their husbands permission and sanction of law. Married women in India also sometimes practiced prostitution to make extra money, especially those from the sudra, servant caste. These artisan's wives were known as silpakarika. The women who worked in the brothels were called paricharikaand usually had one or two special customers who looked after them. Musicians and dancing girls were also frequently prostitutes. Prostitutes in China were classified according to their accomplishments, and the middle-class were entertainers. They worked in wine-houses, establishments that also served as hotels. Red silk lamps were hung on their doors for identification, which may be where we get our expression "red light district." Middle-class prostitutes in the Byzantine Empire were usually entertainers and theater women. Tradition has it that Empress Theodora was once a prostitute of this type who rose through the ranks and eventually seduced the Emperor into marriage. In Europe, women plied the trade in taverns and inns, and as cities grew, actual brothels were established. Some prostitutes established guilds in the same way as the other professions. Female troubadours also sometimes practiced prostitution. Many of the prostitutes of this class had other employment which was inadequate to meet their needs.
By the Renaissance, brothels were a well-established part of the cities, and were restricted to designated areas. Prominent men frequently owned brothels, and taxes on them were paid to the state, which regulated them. Regulation attempted to get all prostitutes into the brothels where they could be counted, taxed, and controlled. Fear of syphilis led to regular medical inspections. Special hospitals were founded for diseased prostitutes, and there was an active movement in the 16th century to abolish prostitution, which built convents and shelters for reformed prostitutes. Despite these efforts, prostitution continued to flourish, especially in the larger cities where wages for women were low, and there were large numbers of men in the professional merchant class.
The best known courtesan of the early middle-ages was Empress Theodora (c. 497-548). Emperor Justinian changed the laws forbidding marriage to prostitutes by the upper-class shortly before he married her. Once Empress, Theodora helped change laws that denied property rights to women and built refuges for prostitutes who wanted to leave the profession. Courtesans do not appear in the literature or histories of the later middle-ages until the beginning of the Renaissance. Wealthy men had mistresses and concubines, but the courtesan did not come to prominence again until around 1450. During the rediscovery of the Classics, stories about the hetairai surfaced, and there was a market for courtesans once again, particularly in Italy. A courtesan of Venice, Veronica Franco, built a refuge for prostitutes in 1577. It was unique in its time, as it allowed the women to live there with their children and go outside to work at legitimate jobs. Courtesans were the privileged class of prostitutes. Their lives were comfortable and their work well paid. Yet, even the hetairai of ancient Greece strove to achieve respectability through marriage. As prostitutes, they were still stigmatized, and recognized as women of lower status. Like all prostitutes, they catered to men's sexual needs, and were considered inferior as a result.