Prostitution is one of the "oldest professions" there is. Criminal Justice textbooks list it as a victimless crime. Theories of this type of behavior state that if the act is between two consenting adults then no victim exists. What if either party is married though, is it still without a victim? What about the spouse of one of the participants? Responses to this question will no doubt be based on moral convictions. Personally, I think that if the prostitute or the john is married, then there is absolutely a victim that is unwittingly being exposed to the potential of contracting any of a number of sexually transmitted diseases.
Many people who go into prostitution enter the profession due to past abuse. Many were sexually and physically abused as children. The people who enter prostitution because of abuse or as a means to escape a negative condition are not really doing it of their own free will. I believe that these people are victims.
On the other hand, there are people who enter the profession because they find it exciting. They make the choice, not out of hardship, but because they want to. I do not consider these people to be victims.
To a large extent, I think that the prostitute might be a victim of crime herself. I am aware of the argument that suggests that if one makes the conscious choice to enter prostitution and make money through it, they are not entirely a victim because they are in control. I agree with this logic to a degree. Yet, if we begin to analyze the plight of women all over the world, forced into prostitution by those who take a cut of their earnings and abuse them when they do not earn what is deemed as "their share," then the prostitute is the victim. They are the victims because they are being extorted by another, controlled by another and placed in a world that is not of their choosing. I think that examining the rise of human trafficking and how women are subjugated throughout the different parts of the world, one is left to find that the victim of prostitution is the women, herself.
As the other posts have pointed out, prostitution can provide its victims: Both the prostitute and client can be injured or robbed, and the possibility of a sexually transmitted disease is always a threat. However, under normal circumstances--and assuming that both members are satisified with the transaction--I definitely view prostitution as a victimless crime. Many countries which have legalized prostitution (Holland, for example) regulate the trade and provide protection and supervision (though usually hidden from the public eye). Aside from the moral issue, prostitution is really not much different from other private transactions between two people, which can also turn physical is some circumstances.
I do think that prostitutes can be victims. Many times prostitutes are forced to do what they do and have no other choice. This topic can be linked to the human trafficking business. I recently watched a program on television about two women in their early twenties. They wanted to come to America to go to college and found some people who said they could help them get here. When they arrived they discovered they they had to prostitute their bodies and "pay" their way out of enslavement. Unfortunately, there are women who are forced into the sex trade. In extreme cases, it has been discovered that some women are given drugs (with the intent of addiction) and used as sex slaves. They do not want to leave because they need the drugs.
There is really much more to prostitution that women standing on street corners selling their bodies.
If women freely chose to be prostitutes and were not subjected to the actions of pimps, then I would say yes, it could be considered a victimless crime. Where it is legal--Nevada, for instance--it is regulated and concerns are taken for the safety of both the prostitutes and their customers. But from what I can find out, this is far from always the case. Women are kept subjugated by pimps, controlled by way of money and drugs...far from victimless, if you ask me. In other areas of the world it can be even worse, and involve trafficking in human beings.
If you are talking about the prostitute as a criminal, then I would agree that the crime has no victim. After all, it would be very odd to say that the "John" is a victim when he seeks out the "crime." I suppose you could argue that the "John's" wife (if any) is a victim. Or you could say society is a victim, but I don't see it.
However, I do think that the prostitutes themselves are often victims. So in that sense, it's not a victimless crime. But it's weird to have the victim being charged with a crime...
First of all I must say that I don't consider prostitution a crime. In fact, in many countries, prostitution has been legalised. I would prefer to call prostitution a service offered by an adult and received by another adult. It is a consensual act in which there is no question of any criminality.
However, if you still consider it to be a crime, it is 'victimless' in the sense that neither the sex-worker nor the customer suffers or get harmed. The service-provider serves the customer against a fee, while the customer is free to buy the service. That it is 'victimless' is the reason why it should not be labelled as a criminal act.
As it has been suggested in the previous post, it is the prostitute who may be called a victim of circumstances under which she/he has chosen the profession. But often a woman or a man may choose prostitution just as a living, and for no social/economic hardship as such. It may be just a way of living, a livelihood with no question of victimisation of any kind.