it is not a matter of whether they were or were not prostitutes, they were 'unfortunates'. that is women who through poverty, drink, breakup of marriage or other circumstances were destitute. Among the options for survival was occasional prostitution. There were more occasional prostitutes in London than full time ones. Unless you were a high class prostitute, working the streets led to early death, often from tb, and sexual diseases. A full time sex worker in the 1860s had a survival rate of seven years.
So with the exception of Mary Kelly who claimed she had been involved in the sex industry since she was 16, and had been living off Joe Barnett till he lost his job and Liz Stride who had been a convicted prostitute in Sweden.It seems that only extreme poverty led the women,to walk the streets as they all with the exception of Kelly, had had better lives, families and work. They did various things to keep body and soul alive, cleaning, hopping, selling cloth flowers , shacking up with a partner to pool costs, but sometimes it was'nt enough. Chapman lost her allowance from her husband when he died and had a drink problem, the streets were the only option, Eddowes had spend the boot money on drink and was desperate to get it back.
l prefer the term 'unfortunate' to prostitute. They were not described as prostitutes in the press.