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A variety of terms are used for those who engage in prostitution, some of which distinguish between different types of prostitution or imply a value judgment about them.
A person who works in this field is called a prostitute, and is a type of sex worker.Another commonly used word for a prostitute is hooker.Although a popular etymology connects "hooker" with Joseph Hooker, a Union general in the American Civil War, the word more likely comes from the concentration of prostitutes around the shipyards and ferry terminal of the Corlear's Hook area of Manhattan in the 1820s, who came to be referred to as "hookers".Those offering services to female customers are commonly known as gigolos; those offering services to male customers are hustlers or rent boys.Organizers of prostitution may be known as pimps (if male) and madams or Mama-san (if female).Prostitution is one branch of the sex industry, along with pornography, stripping, and erotic dancing.
The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country (sometimes from region to region within a given country), ranging from being permissible but unregulated, to an enforced or unenforced crime, or a regulated profession.
Most sex worker activists groups reject the word prostitute and since the late 1970s have used the term sex worker instead.
However, sex worker can also mean anyone who works within the sex industry or whose work is of a sexual nature and is not limited solely to prostitutes.
There are about 42 million prostitutes in the world, living all over the world (though most of Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa lacks data, studied countries in that large region rank as top sex tourism destinations).
Another explanation is that prostituta is a composition of pro and statuere (to cause to stand, to station, place erect).
The word "prostitution" can also be used metaphorically to mean debasing oneself or working towards an unworthy cause or "selling out". For the sake of the longed alliance with imperialist democracies [Stalin] has brought the Comintern to the last stages of political prostitution." Besides targeting political figures, the term is used in relation to organizations and even small countries, which "have no choice but to sell themselves", because their voice in world affairs is insignificant.