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Many assume prostitution is sex rather than sexual violence and a personal choice rather than a human rights abuse.  This is wrong.  No woman in her right mind chooses to prostitute herself. In many cases, she is lured in by a “boyfriend” who turns out to be a pimp or trafficker. Once she finds out, escaping from this suddenly becomes both difficult and dangerous. Many victims are controlled through psychological means, such as threats of violence, manipulation, and lies. Others experience beatings, rape, and other forms of physical violence. Drug addiction can often be a factor. Nearly 90% of prostituted women say they want out immediately. But the decision is in the hands of their pimps, their boyfriends or husbands, their addictions, or their children’s financial support.


“Prostitute” is not an appropriate term for a person providing sexual services. It implies choice or a willingness to participate. The descriptions “prostituted,” “sexually exploited,” and “sex trafficking” are more accurate.


  • Average age of entry: 12-14 years
  • Average mean age of prostituted women: 31
  • Average years in prostitution: 11 years
  • Percent younger than age 18 at entry: 42 %
  • Threatened with a weapon: 78%
  • Physically assaulted: 82%
  • Raped: 82%
  • Raped more than five times: 73%
  • Current or past homelessness: 84%
  • Hit or beaten by a caregiver as a child until injured or bruised: 49%
  • Sexually abused as a child: 65%-95%
  • Drugs: 75%
  • Alcohol: 26%
  • Would leave prostitution: 87%
  • Need home or safe place: 78%
  • Need job training: 73%
  • Need health care: 58%
  • Need peer support: 50%
  • Need legal assistance: 42%
  • Need alcohol and drug treatment: 67%
  • Self-defense training: 49%
  • Need child care: 28%