15 Little Known Facts About Prostitution in America

Research published in the last few years regarding prostitution and human trafficking statistics reveals that what we thought we knew about both sex workers and their pimps needs to be adjusted. For example, most pimps have at least a high school education – and many people involved in sex work were brought into it via family members. It’s also hard to overstate how much the Internet has changed the nature of prostitution.

Here some facts about prostitution in America that most people haven’t heard – and that will change they way you view the world’s oldest profession.

The Men Have Secretaries

While it’s illegal, harmful to women, and destructive, there’s also no doubt that the trade benefits people who have nothing to do with the actual services provided. Bosses often employ secretaries, child-care workers, household staff, marketers, security, and drivers who have little contact with the workers other than as support. The Urban Institute study revealed that a quarter of pimps employed staff members to take care of daily life tasks.

Pimps Have A Lot Of Expenses

All that travel on the circuit gets expensive. According to the Urban Institute’s survey, while the men who “manage” these women can make well over $30,000 per week, they often have huge amounts of money going out the door. Top-level men have considerable expenses for transportation, housing, clothing, hotel rooms, security, and advertising. These can often eat up profits, leaving them cash poor.

It Generates More Money Than Drugs And Illegal Guns Combined

In many American cities, more cash is transacted through the sex industry than is moved through drug and gun industries combined, according to a study by the Urban Institute. Atlanta “leads” the way in with a trade net worth of $290 million annually. Miami’s is worth $235 million and Washington, D.C.’s is worth $103 million. This includes everything from actual street work to massage parlors and escorts.

Many Women Find Work Through Their Family And Start Young

Almost a third of respondents to the Urban Institute study reported that a family member, male or female, exposed them to the trade at a young age, normalizing their own participation. Many sex workers report that they have been working since they were 12, 13, or 14 years old.

They Travel On A Dedicated Circuit

Most men don’t stay in one city, but move on a circuit of cities, whether in a state, region, or nationally. They tend to move in regular intervals, on regular paths, going to the same cities at regular times.This ensures their regular customers always know when they’ll be in town, and what workers will be available. The most profitable circuit seems to be in the South, involving Miami and Atlanta.

Most Pimps Don’t Fear Arrest

Despite the risk of arrest and assault by other men, many “bosses” find the job to be fairly safe. Traffickers and child pornography offenders alike often believe their crimes are low-risk, even with the threat of prison time. Multiple men, some of whom had actually served time, expressed that “no one actually gets locked up” managing the workers, and found their time in jail to be short.

70 Percent of “Bosses” Have Graduated From High School

The Urban Institute study found that among pimps, nearly 70% either had a high school diploma or had attended college for some time. Many are violent men but most aren’t stupid. Likewise, many women stayed in that line of work work, or went back after they left, because of a lack of opportunity – not a lack of education.

Nevada’s Reputation For Legal Workers is Overstated

One of the most famous legal brothels in the world, The Moonlite Bunny Ranch, is in Nevada. It’s a legitimate business, housing workers in fairly nice conditions and paying well – but the business is not legal in all of Nevada. Regulated brothels are allowed in eight counties, but streetwalking isn’t. This means all of those cards shoved into your hand on the Vegas Strip advertising ladies at all hours are in service of an illegal enterprise.

80,000 American Citizens Are Arrested A Year For Soliciting Sex

According to FindingJustice.org, roughly 80,000 US citizens are arrested annually for soliciting sex. This costs American tax payers $200 million a year in court and jail fees.

Craigslist Isn’t The Trove Of Lurid Women You Think It Is

While Craigslist makes up about 13.9% of “adult services” listings, the classified site is easily trumped by Backpage.com, a paid service with an extensive adult services section for posting classifieds. While Craigslist removed explicit adult ads in 2010 (they’re still there, just more hidden), Backpage continues to run them in the open. In July 2015, both Visa and MasterCard cut ties with the site because of its continued offering of adult ads.

Women Have A More Dangerous Job Than The ‘Deadliest Catch’ Guys

Despite having no reality shows dedicated to their dangerous exploits, the death rate numbers for working women are higher than those of people who work in the logging, on Alaskan fishing boats, or on an oil rig. The death rate for these women is estimated to be 204 for every 100,000 women – nearly twice that of the 127 deaths per 100,000 men of crew members on fishing boats like those featured on Deadliest CatchOne study puts the number even higher: 391 per 100,000 women. They also have no unions, little legal recourse, and no ability to go to the authorities.

Independent Sex Workers Don’t Have Much Time

A sex worker with no “boss” spends much of her time advertising and booking and screening clients – all for free. They also have to pay for their own medical costs and security. This eats up both their income and time.

Undercover Vice Cops Don’t Have to Identify Themselves

Contrary to urban legend, a cop doesn’t have to out themselves if you ask them if they’re a cop. Understandably, this would make undercover operations nearly worthless. Officers in uniform usually have to identify themselves as police, but every police jurisdiction has different rules and requirements.

For example, the Seattle Police Department stipulates that officers have to identify themselves as police, except when an investigation is jeopardized, a police function is hindered, or there is a safety consideration. Posing as a client would qualify for all these cases.

Everyone Goes To Workers – Even Cops

Workers (and their “bosses”) will accept anyone who can pay. Both high-level executives and blue-collar workers pay for sex, as does everyone from judges to teachers to lawyers. Some  even claim their biggest customers are police officers, who exchange sex for being left alone. In terms of the racial breakdown of customers, about 40% are white, 20% are Latino, 17% are black, and about 20% couldn’t be determined.

Roughly 6,000 Girls And Women In The US Are Forced Into Sex Work Via Trafficking

In 2017, 8,524 cases of human trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Of thouse 8,524 cases, 6,081 were sex trafficking victims. What’s more unsettling about this statistic is the fact that there is no way these numbers are an accurate portrayal of the issue; not all sex trafficking cases get reported.

They Recruit On Social Media More Than Anywhere Else

Men now conduct the majority of their recruiting through social media, as opposed to finding women in clubs or on the streets. Liaisons are arranged through any number of websites, customers find women through dating and networking sites, hotels are booked online, and cash is transacted digitally.

Men Aren’t Happy with How They’re Portrayed in Media

According to the Urban Institute study, most men believe the media’s portrayals of their profession exaggerate the violence they use to keep women in line. Some even see the term “pimp” itself as derogatory, preferring to see themselves as “part of the urban lifestyle” or businessmen providing a service. Despite these grievances, most admit to the occasional use of physical abuse for punishment – along with psychological coercion.

The Top Reason Men Go To Prostitutes Is For The Immediacy Of The Act

According to FindingJustice.org, the number one reason men pay for sex is to “satisfy an immediate urge for sex.” The other top two reasons men solicit sex workers is to “experience a specific physical, racial, or sexual fetish,” and because they are not satisfied in their current relationship.