Friday Lore Post: Prostitution

Despite how much sex everyone on Nova seems to be having constantly, there are many people who may find it hard to find a partner of their own. For this or many other reasons, it is very easy to find prostitutes anywhere one goes in the world. By and large, prostitution is fairly similar in most places, with a few notable differences.

The vast majority of prostitution the world over takes place in organized brothels that exist solely to facilitate clients looking for sex workers and to protect sex workers from clients who may get carried away or come into the encounter with nefarious purposes. These can vary in size from just a few prostitutes to dozens, but generally speaking they are managed and overseen by someone who is not themselves a current sex worker (though is often a retired one), who sets rates and organizes the prostitutes’ schedules with their various clients. It is this person’s job to be aware of the limits and skills of the various sex workers, and of course of the preferences of the various clients of the establishment. The sex workers themselves are paid by the brothel, not their client, though it is typically considered to be good manners to tip a sex worker.

Brothels exist the world over and though many are general in scope, there also exist those that cater to specific tastes. Some brothels only hire women, or men, or only cater to men, or foreigners, or young people. Dolovai and Kyaine do not have legal ages of sexual consent, but the marrying age of fourteen is the common rule of thumb, and therefore that is also the age at which someone can legally be employed as a prostitute. Many brothels will employ at least one if not more sex workers who are underage on the supposition that it is safer for people to see sex with them in a controlled environment rather than in the streets. In almost all cases, the authorities look the other way when this happens, unless there are substantiated allegations of abuse.

In slave-owning cultures, it is very common for prostitutes to be slaves and therefore the property of the brothel. This is fairly common in northern Dolovai, where about half of all prostitutes are enslaved people, and very common in the empire, where over three quarters of prostitutes are enslaved. In both cases, it is nearly always brothels in middle-class areas that own enslaved prostitutes. Very wealthy brothels will often employ several free sex workers and charge more for their services as a result, and brothels in very poor areas often can only afford to own one or two slaves, and the rest of the prostitutes will be employees.

In some places, prostitution is a profession attached to certain forms of religious veneration. Certain Enjoni and Yavhorel deities have sacred prostitutes employed in their temples, and the pay for their work goes mostly to the temple. The sex in these cases is largely considered an important ritual act and paying for it is a form of religious veneration. This practice is steadily dying out in Yavhore, but despite Imperial pressure shows no sign of waning in Enjon. In Nova’s ancient past, temple prostitutes were much more common than they are now, and were attached to future-sight, much as they are now in Yavhore’s temples to the god Casta and Enjon’s to the goddess Mart. Sex and foresight have historically been connected, so oracular power is often tied to sex generally. In the Empire, most oracles are also sex workers for this same reason. Across Djyekkan, people who can see the future will make house calls that involve sexual services in addition to prophecies.

Many brothels end up being found or chosen families for the people who work there, who also live there and tend to share all their possessions. It is not uncommon for brothels to take in orphaned children and raise them, giving them a choice to work there when they’re old enough, though of course critics would suggest there is not as much choice inherent in this process as the brothels pretend. As a rule, prostitutes of all sexes and genders use contraception at all times, but on the occasion when contraceptive precautions fail and a prostitute becomes pregnant, generally it is the policy of most brothels not to tell the sex worker’s clients that they may have a baby, and to raise the baby as a member of their own family. If a client of a brothel becomes pregnant and believes firmly their sex worker is the other parent, they are always given the option of leaving the baby at the brothel if they so desire.

Not all prostitutes work in brothels, of course. Anyone is free to sell their body, though those who do so independently often have a harder time making a living doing so. Those who are able to do so generally do it by word of mouth and mostly working with their neighbours and people who already know them and know them to be cheaper than brothel prostitutes. Prostitutes who don’t work in brothels don’t experience the protection offered to other sex workers by the brothel infrastructure, and are more likely to be subject to violence or exploitation, and it is not uncommon in any major city to find pimps using the bodies of sex workers to make money, and even to find parents pimping out their children illegally. The authorities do tend to crack down harder on this than on brothels employing underage sex workers, though that of course depends on the pimps in question not having friends in the city guard.

Sex work is a part of many other jobs on Nova as well. Most ships will employ a morale officer whose duties will include sex work. Performers in many circuses and carnivals will also do sex work after shows. Serving people at many inns often unofficially make themselves available to patrons who are interested. Bards, prior to their current labour stoppage, would often include sex work as part of their services, especially to travelling parties. In the past year, many nobility in the Yavhorel nation of Neshez have begun engaging in part-time sex work for reasons that seem to have to do with emulating their new monarch King Niall hee-Minda, who uses his rumoured part-time status as a sex worker to effect his diplomatic agenda. The demand for sex work is always high, and the number of people willing and able to fill that demand always manages to match it, whatever form that work may take.

From “The Definitive Atlas of the World, Vol. 4: Desires and Behaviours,” by Pascal Tiberius Naoton Quimbell Haeverine anNatalie, published in White Cape in DN 1997.

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