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).
Another commonly used word for a prostitute is hooker.
Those offering services to female customers are commonly known as gigolos; those offering services to male customers are hustlers or rent boys.
Clients of prostitutes are sometimes known as johns or tricks in North America and punters in the British Isles.
In the Ancient Near East along the Tigris–Euphrates river system there were many shrines and temples or "houses of heaven" dedicated to various deities documented by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus in The Histories As early as the 18th century BC, ancient Mesopotamia recognized the need to protect women's property rights.
In the Code of Hammurabi, provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes.
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.
A literal translation therefore is: "to put up front for sale" or "to place forward".
The Online Etymology Dictionary states, "The notion of 'sex for hire' is not inherent in the etymology, which rather suggests one 'exposed to lust' or sex 'indiscriminately offered.'" The word prostitute was then carried down through various languages to the present-day Western society.
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.
Depending on the jurisdiction, prostitution law may deem commercial sex to be legal or illegal.