Etymology and terminology Prostitute c. Some sources cite the verb as a composition of "pro" meaning "up front" or "forward" and "stituere", defined as "to offer up for sale". A literal translation therefore is: 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. Most sex worker activists groups reject the word prostitute and since the late s 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.
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However, under the influence of the church, sexual acts outside of marriage were criminalized for both sexes, which also affected prostitutes. The normal punishment for illegal sexual relations was fines or, if the accused was unable to pay them, pillorying, whipping, or other disciplinarian physical punishments within the Kyrkoplikt. When the activity of Sara Simonsdotter was exposed in the capital in , revealing her brothel with clients in high circles, she, her staff, and the clients were sentenced to various forms of fines, pillorying, and physical punishments for fornication. This class of prostitutes were protected from the police - either by a certificate of sponsorship given by a client, or by having another official legal profession, usually as an actress or singer.