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Sex work researcher and writer Gail Pheterson writes that these metaphorical usages exist because "the term "prostitute" gradually took on a Christian moralist tradition, as being synonymous with debasement of oneself or of others for the purpose of ill-gotten gains".
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.
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.
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.
Clients of prostitutes, most often men by prevalence, are sometimes known as johns or tricks in North America and punters in the British Isles.
These slang terms are used among both prostitutes and law enforcement for persons who solicit prostitutes.
In escort prostitution, the act may take place at the client's residence or hotel room (referred to as out-call), or at the escort's residence or a hotel room rented for the occasion by the escort (in-call). Although the majority of prostitutes are female and have male clients, a prostitute can be, and have clients, of any gender or sexual orientation.
In the Code of Hammurabi, provisions were found that addressed inheritance rights of women, including female prostitutes.
According to Zohar and the Alphabet of Ben Sira, there were four angels of sacred prostitution, who mated with archangel Samael.
Depending on the jurisdiction, prostitution law may deem commercial sex to be legal or illegal.
A person who works in this field is called a prostitute, and is a type of sex worker.