Essay 2: What Do We Know? Two Studies

Abolitionist “end demand” advocates offer several pictures of prostitution. Here is one. Most prostitutes begin selling sex as minors.[1] They come under the control of pimps, who take all their money, subject them to physical or psychological coercion, and prevent them from leaving prostitution.[2]

Here is a second. Most prostitutes sell sex because they have no viable economic alternatives. Ninety percent would like to leave the trade if they could.[3]

Here is a third. Violence is a constant in the prostitute’s life. She is continually abused and assaulted by pimps and customers. And she was abused and assaulted as a child before she ever turned her first trick.[4]

If these pictures ring true, then the “end demand” abolitionists could present themselves as true liberators, despite the fact that actual working prostitutes remain hostile to “end demand” policies such as criminalizing the purchase of sex. Moreover, the ubiquity of these characterizations of prostitution may seem to lend them weight. Everywhere you turn on the World Wide Web, these claims confront you. Behind the ubiquity, however, lies little of substance. A thin veneer of articles and studies whose quality is very mixed buttresses very strong and unqualified claims that are simply amplified from one writer to another, one web site to another, one report to another.

The question remains pressing: what do we really know about prostitution? A searcher might begin with two recent studies that stand out for their ambition and thoroughness. They are among the best investigations we have. They are worth taking some time to explore.


The first is “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City” (“CSEC-NY”), authored by Ric Curtis and associates.[5] One of the associates – and a principal investigator – was Meredith Dank, whose own book traversing the same ground was published in 2011.[6] For the most part I will treat the two reports as one.

Almost all studies of prostitution involve unrepresentative samples. Because prostitution is an illegal and underground activity, finding participants to take part in a research project is very difficult. Researchers typically resort to samples of convenience, for example, by interviewing prostitutes who are in jail, or who can be identified and approached on the streets. The “CSEC-NY” study sought to gather and understand a truly representative sample of “child” prostitutes in New York City, that is, sellers of sex under the age of eighteen. Using a technique called Respondent-Driven Sampling (and described at length in their report), the “CSEC-NY” researchers developed a sample of 249 youth.

The basic mechanics of RDS recruitment are fairly straightforward: a small number of initial research subjects (called “seeds”) are referred, interviewed by the researchers, and paid for their time and effort ($20 in this case). Following their interviews, the seeds are given 3 sequentially numbered coupons and instructed to pass them along to friends or associates who are like themselves . . . . If referral chains do not develop as expected, additional seeds may be referred as replacements.[7]

Over time, the referrals mounted up. Sample “trees” emerged of youth from a diversity of locations and a range of backgrounds. The interviewers weeded out subjects who weren’t actually selling sex or weren’t under the age of 18, arriving at a final sample number of 249.

However, instead of letting the sample trees grow spontaneously, the researchers tampered with the process in two significant ways. First, the initial trees delivered a surprisingly large number of boys. As the sampling neared completion, the “CSEC-NY” researchers began excluding boys altogether, accepting only girls.[8] Second, the prevailing assumption that prostitutes, especially juvenile ones, are controlled by pimps, was confounded by the growing sample trees, which uncovered very few pimped youth. Unwilling completely to abandon the assumption, the researchers made special efforts to recruit more pimped girls.[9]

Using two different approaches, “CSEC-NY” arrived at two roughly similar estimations of the total juvenile prostitution population in New York City: 3,769 and 3,946, more or less evenly divided between boys and girls. The final cohort collected by the project consisted of 119 girls, 111 boys, and 19 transgender youth. Twenty-nine percent were black, 23% were white, 23% were Hispanic, 22% were multiracial. Although 44% of the boys described themselves as “homeless” only 24% of the girls did.[10]

The subjects in the final sample were interviewed extensively to develop a picture of their circumstances, motivations, aspirations, practices, and well-being.

[T]he accounts provided by youth about their entry into [sex] markets were quite varied and they did not always implicate adults (aside from customers) as the responsible persons. Still, 33% of the youth provided narratives that the researchers had expected to hear: those that described adults taking advantage of vulnerable youth, including accounts of youth that had been initiated by a relative, recruited by a pimp, or simply approached and propositioned by customers on the street.[11]

In other words, two-thirds of the sample didn’t tell stories the researchers had been primed to expect:

[We] expected that pimps and so-called “boyfriends” would be a primary route into [sex] markets for youth, especially girls . . . [but] pimps were . . . a route into the market” for only 19 of the girls. Overall, only 31 of the 119 girls had pimps at the time they were interviewed.[12]

The primary route into prostitution was via friends and acquaintances. Half the sample traveled that path; further, more than 20% said they began after being randomly propositioned by an adult (a higher figure than the number induced by pimps).[13]

All the subjects were in prostitution for the money. As minors — and unskilled and uneducated, at that – finding a mainstream job was difficult.[14] Many of the youth had sources of income other than prostitution, but the money in prostitution proved a considerable lure.[15] So did the freedom and flexibility. A lot of the youth used drugs (primarily marijuana and powder cocaine). As prostitutes, they didn’t have to give periodic urine tests at work; they didn’t have to punch a time-clock. The flexibility built into prostitution, along with its remuneration, make it attractive to drug users who don’t want to give up drugs – and many don’t.

Money was also an impediment to leaving prostitution.

For many youth who wanted to get out of “the life”, there were deep concerns about finding a job and making money, especially a job that paid as much as they were making and that could support their lifestyle.[16]

The money was a primary desideratum:

First and foremost, sex work was fast and easy money according to many youth. One 17-year old White female from Queens summed it up: “You know, the money is 1, 2, 3. I get paid when I want. And when I wanna do it, I do it. . . .” A 19-year old female from Brooklyn expressed misgivings about having sex for money, but suggested that enough money could overcome those feelings: “The money is fast. Like, regular square people, y’all work for two weeks for a check for $500, $600. And I can get that in one night. Even though the things I have to do for it isn’t, you know, rightful, but it’s money at the end of the day.”[17]

A second and important positive feature of prostitution is captured in this passage:

Finally, it came as no surprise that the teenagers who comprised the sample pointed out that “freedom” from adult supervision was a positive attribute of the lifestyle. In this regard, however, they did not sound much different than how other teens might have reacted . . . An 18-year old female from the Bronx echoed that feeling when she noted that, “I’m a free spirit and I like to do what I wanna do. I don’t want anyone tellin’ me what to do. I don’t like rules at all.”[18]

Fifty-three percent of the female youth reported making more than $200 a night; 34% were making more than $300, some considerably more. Moreover, this income did not require many customers. Twenty-four percent of the female prostitutes saw no more than one customer a day; fully 78% saw no more than four. Forty-two percent of the females had 4 or more “regulars;” 11% had 10 or more. Finally, 55% of the female prostitutes shared their earnings with no one. Only 18% shared money with pimps.[19]

There was a lot about their prostitute lives the youth didn’t like. Violence was a constant menace, mostly from customers but also from pimps and from fellow sex workers. The girls who had pimps weren’t always happy with their relationships. “CSEC-NY” tells two different stories here. On the one hand, it says that “[m]ost of the youth who said that they had a pimp did not have good things to say about their experiences with him/her. . . . Almost every youth that had been involved with a pimp at some point in their lives (16% of the girls), provided accounts of mental and/or physical abuse at their hands.” These pimps lived up to the abolitionist stereotype: manipulative, controlling, dangerous, self-aggrandizing. They took all the money and plied their girls with drugs.[20]

On the other hand, the report notes,

The youth were not uniform in their describing pimps as violent exploiters of children. Indeed, several of them spoke somewhat fondly about their pimps or market facilitators, and portrayed them as protectors or father figures. While it is tempting to offer explanations for why this might be the case, as others have, in this report, we have simply reported what the youth told the researchers when asked about their pimps. Though we remain acutely aware of the spin provided to some of the narratives that praise pimps or seem to exonerate them for what they did/do, these accounts provide further insight into the evolving attitudes and orientations toward pimps that exist among sexually exploited youth.[21]

In sum, the youth studied by “CSEC-NY” were by and large not under the control of pimps. By and large they did not have to give away their earnings. By and large they were not coerced into prostitution but prompted by the experiences of friends and acquaintances.

Now, these findings were not the result of a bias in favor of prostitution or against the standard abolitionist tale. Indeed, the researchers expected to be told by most of the girls that they were controlled by pimps. They expected to be told tales of horror and misery. They were sufficiently in the grip of the stereotypical view that they manipulated their sampling technique to make the outcome more closely fit it. Indeed, as the italicized sections in the following passage shows, they were tempted by the common abolitionist tactic of refusing to take at face value the words of prostitutes that do not fit the abolitionist stereotype.

[S]ome young people did not talk about their need for money; instead, they described social contexts where sex work seemed integral to their peer networks, and these networks seemed to draw in others over time. CSEC peer groups were not only vital to youths’ entry into the market, but also to their ability to engage the market and their decision to remain in “the life.”[22]

For many youth, it seemed, the language of prostitution had become normalized, and even though several said that they felt “peer pressure” to join in, in general, their narratives were not so much about being “pressured” to participate in CSEC markets as they were about fascination and curiosity with what appeared to be an emerging “lifestyle.” Some youth stated that the fast money their friends were making by prostituting was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so they decided to follow suit. It is difficult for the researchers to know what to make of these narratives: perhaps they were recited as a defense mechanism to avoid talking about painful memories, perhaps they truly believed these things, or perhaps they were trying to impress the researchers with shocking accounts: but whatever it was – and maybe it was all of them – there was a remarkable consistency to many of the accounts that prevented it from being simply the ravings of a quirky individual or two. There was a shared and dangerous narrative here: one that denied their victimization. The proliferation of this narrative poses a real challenge to policy makers and practitioners who are concerned about the spread of CSEC markets: to the degree that this narrative enters the mainstream – and it is a complex narrative fed from multiple sources – the stigma that surrounds CSEC activities is likely to decrease and more youth may be lured into the market.[23]

Tempted to disbelieve their subjects, the “CSEC-NY” researchers nevertheless let the numbers and subject reports speak for themselves, as well they should, although the report was received with hostility in some quarters.[24]


The second study worth examining is “Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities” (“8 Cities”) authored by Meredith Dank and associates. It promised more than the New York study but delivered less. In a way, it shows how difficult real research into prostitution can be. The project’s goals were ambitious but not unified. One goal – providing a dollar estimate of the size of the underground sexual economy in eight cities – required complex statistical modeling to identify black market activity, using a large set of proxies to plug into equations. The interested reader can follow out the chain of logic at pp. 16-56 of the report. The results for seven of the cities are given on pages 50ff. For example, in Washington, DC in 2007, according to the estimates, $103 million was spent in the illicit sex market, $103 million was spent in the illicit drug market, $160 million was spent in the illicit gun market, and $2 trillion was spent on everything else.[25]

Apart from this complex estimation process, most of the rest of the report relies on extensive interviews with (i) 119 police officers, federal agents, prosecutors, and other authorities from each of the eight cities; (ii) 73 incarcerated pimps and traffickers; and (iii) 36 arrested sex workers.[26] Unlike “CSEC-NY,” which used a very time- and labor-intensive process to generate a representative sample of underage sex workers in New York City, “8 Cities,” like so many other studies, used samples of convenience. The pimps interviewed were from a set of 300 candidates in prison (the candidates may not be representative of pimps as a whole because not all, or even many, pimps get imprisoned) who agreed to be interviewed (the interviewees may not even represent the incarcerated pimp population). The sex workers interviewed all had been arrested and put on probation or in a diversion program; they hardly represent the population of prostitutes as a whole, which includes many if not most workers who never get arrested.

Nevertheless, the interviews are numerous and add significantly to the existing literature. They present a mixed picture and, inadvertently perhaps, show how hard it is to gain knowledge about prostitution.

The “8 Cities” project began by interviewing law enforcement officials.

[We relied on] law enforcement because of their on-the-ground experience with the underground commercial sex market. They understand all the different facets of the underground commercial sex market, particularly how they operate, the individuals within them, and how they have changed over time.[27]

Yet the actual interviews themselves suggest that law enforcement “knowledge” is quite partial and limited. Police and prosecutors repeatedly pointed to difficulties in getting information about various segments of the underground sex economy. For example, in Dallas,

escort services were described as the hardest to infiltrate given the secrecy, access control, and amount of money needed to pose as a potential client. Given these challenges, as well as the belief that sex trafficking is not occurring, local law enforcement does not investigate these services.[28]

In Washington, DC, “Latino brothels” were “the most difficult” venue to penetrate “due to the largely diffuse, mobile, and ethnically-closed nature of the brothel operations;” and “massage parlor cases [were] ‘next to impossible to prosecute’ because of the difficulty obtaining information from the women inside” them.[29] In San Diego, escort services are able to evade detection and prosecution; in Seattle, police are able to pursue only “limited” investigations of such services; and in Atlanta, police couldn’t “dismantle” them.[30] Massage parlors and migrant brothels remain opaque in Denver; and all cities “reported difficulty in determining the extent to which adult sex workers were voluntarily employed in prostitution or victims of sex trafficking.”[31]

In addition, the police reports are not always consistent with one another. Here is a Dallas police officer explaining why all minors on the street are controlled by pimps:

Well just look at them; really a juvenile can’t do it . . . if you actually just look at the dynamics of it, they can’t do it without help. They can’t book hotel rooms, they can’t get cards, they can’t get the credit cards to put the Internet ads out. They have to have an adult to do all of that. For certain, there is almost always an adult behind it somewhere who is controlling it.[32]

His contention is an inference – what must be the case given that the workers are minors – rather than a report of exhaustive data collection; and it stands at odds with a conclusion drawn by a similarly experienced Seattle police official:

I would say there’s a lot more girls without pimps, because again the Internet allows that. The Internet just allows them to do it by themselves. If they have got a debit card or if they can buy a prepaid card, they can put up an ad. And then the smartphones. The smartphones allow them to access the Internet. They allow them to not only take pictures of themselves, store the pictures, and then post the pictures and do the ads right from their telephone. They don’t even need to have a computer anymore. So all the technology has allowed this to go on. And, so what you have is you have high tech prostitutes.[33]

Both officers speak from experience, but their experiences are filtered through various preconceptions that lead them to different conclusions. Likewise, officials within a single jurisdiction, looking at the same information, can arrive at conflicting views. Here is a passage on prostitution in San Diego:

There is some dissension . . . as to whether the women who work in the massage parlors are trafficked or voluntarily trading sex. The following are the views expressed by two law enforcement agencies:

Interviewer: And as far as the Asian massage parlors?

Respondent 1: Just that 99.9 percent of them are straight prostitution.

Respondent 2: The question becomes, the true human trafficking sort of case … those are not as common or as out in the open as just straight up prostitution. A lot of the prostitution cases and a lot of what we consider human trafficking are because it is an underage girl. But in a lot of those cases the girls sort of find themselves in it because they sort of willingly go into it. That is not true in all cases but it’s the culture or rather the urban culture.

Other stakeholders in San Diego believed that sex trafficking and labor trafficking occurred within the parlors.[34]

Officials in all the cities report the involvement of pimps in prostitution but they differ about crucial details. For example, “8 Cities” sums up Atlanta interviews this way: “The control [by pimps] tends to be more by physical intimidation than narcotics and alcohol.” Yet it records DC officials claiming that pimps use drugs as well as force to control their prostitutes. In San Diego, the story switches back:

Due to the common misconception that pimps feed drugs to their employees to make them compliant and dependent, stakeholders in San Diego were surprised to learn this was not the case. A pimp may party with his girls as part of the grooming process, but once the girls start working for him, he makes sure his “merchandise” is clean and sober.

In Seattle, officials concurred that “pimps rarely condone the consumption of alcohol and drugs, with the exception of ecstasy which helps lower the women and girls’ inhibitions.”[35]

The observations of the law enforcement agents in Atlanta, San Diego, and Seattle are reinforced by “8 Cities” interviews with incarcerated pimps.

Respondents [the pimps] in this study did not corroborate extant literature suggesting that pimps tend to target women who are dependent on drugs. . . . To the contrary, [interviewees] reported avoiding employees with drug addictions. . . . While six percent . . . reported that they either encouraged or were complicit with employee use of drugs and alcohol, 27 percent of respondents prohibited or set limitations on the use and abuse of substances.[36]

The pimp interviews are instructive in other ways as well. Although some pimps conformed to the standard stereotype (for example, they used violence as a device of control[37] and kept all the earnings of the girls in their stables[38]), many did not fit the mold. They not only kept their girls off drugs, they avoided entanglements with minors,[39] they shared earnings,[40] and the women who worked for them came and went.[41]

In their interviews, pimps described a variety tactics for recruiting girls and managing their activities. “8 Cities” observes that, despite the variety, “elements of coercion were present across the spectrum of responses.”[42] Unfortunately, the study doesn’t work with a clear notion of coercion. Obviously force, imprisonment, and threats of violence count as coercive, as does deception and manipulating a girl’s vulnerabilities. Persuading a girl that she “ought not to give it away for free” counts as coercion, too, according to the study,[43] and evidently firing her if she disobeys rules does as well, since it figures prominently in several pimps’ responses.[44] Thus, given the slack notion of ‘coercion’ at work in the report, it is hard to see how a pimp could avoid employing coercion whatever his or her means of recruitment.

The “8 Cities” study featured a further set of interviews with thirty-six sex workers from five of the eight cities surveyed. Many of these had been in prostitution a decade or more. They were all on probation or in court diversion programs at the time of the interviews.

Four (11 percent) began trading sex before the age of 15, ten (28 percent) started between the ages of 15–17, eighteen (50 percent) began between the ages of 18–29, and four (11 percent) began in their 30s.

All entered prostitution for economic reasons, but sheer economic necessity was not necessarily the driving force:

Sex work was viewed as a viable alternative to traditional employment opportunities that were either not available or not sought out . . . . Six of the ten respondents who began trading sex between the mid-2000s to present day stated that they did so because they needed a job or were not interested in traditional employment opportunities. . . . Sex work served as a source of supplemental income for some sex workers who had other jobs; four (11 percent) noted that they had other forms of legitimate employment while they were trading sex.[45]

Most worked as streetwalkers and most had no pimps during their careers. They often entered the trade through the influence of friends and acquaintances, seeing in prostitution a means of earning “a lot of money fast.”[46]

Sex work served as a quick and reliable source of income. . . . [T]he sex workers in our study described a persistent ability to earn significant sums with certain—and sometimes regular—clients.[47]

A majority had been crack addicts at some point.[48] They ranked the hazards they faced in descending order:

law enforcement and the threat of detection; the unpredictability of clients; the possibility of violence, rape, and death; sexually transmitted diseases and other health hazards; and the risks involved with drug use and dependency.[49]

Most had one or more arrests for prostitution prior to the legal entanglement that led to the interviews in the “8 Cities” study.[50]

I will say more about the “CSEC-NY” and “8 Cities” in Essay 3, but it is clear enough that the results of these two extensive studies are far from confirming the “standard” picture of prostitution offered by abolitionists. I start in Essay 3 by considering a research project by two important abolitionists.



[1] “12 is the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution,”; most prostitutes “entered before they were adults,” Catherine A. MacKinnon, “Prostitution and Civil Rights,” Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 1 (1993), p. 28. [pp. 13-31]; “The average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is fourteen,” Vednita Carter and Evelina Giobbe, “Duet: Prostitution, Racism and Feminist Discourse,” Hastings Women’s Law Journal, Vol. 10 (Winter 1999), p. 44 [pp. 37-58]; “The average age in Europe for entry into prostitution is 14,” Baroness Howarth of Breckland, House of Lords Debate, “Policing and Crime Bill, November 3, 2009, p. 239,; “The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 years,”; “the estimated median age of entry into the commercial sex industry was between twelve and fourteen years old,” Rachel Lloyd, Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, An Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself (New York: Harper, 2001), p. 12; “Women typically fall into prostitution between the ages of 12 and 14,” Erik Badia and Corky Siemaszko, “NYC Soon to Launch Courts Aimed at Helping Prostitutes Out of Sex Work,” New York Daily News, September 25, 2013,; “the average age of entry into prostitution [is] . . . thirteen,” Norma Hotaling, Kristie Miller, and Elizabeth Trudeau, “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls: A Survivor Service Provider’s Perspective,” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Vol. 18 (2006), p. 188.

[2] “It is currently estimated that over 90 percent of street prostitutes are controlled by pimps . . . . when a woman tries to escape from the life . . . she will invariably be hunted down [by her pimp],” Kathleen Barry, Female Sexual Slavery (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1979, pp. 6, 200; “[A]pproximately eighty percent of women prostituted from hotels are controlled by pimps,” Margaret Baldwin, “Pornography and the Traffic in Women,” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Vol. 1 (1989), p. 126; “The great majority of women used in prostitution appear to be under the control of (take orders, live in fear of violence, surrender all money) one or more pimps,” Robert Brannon, “Does Consensual Prostitution Exist?” NOMAS: National Organization for Men against Sexism,; “Eighty-four percent of prostituted women are controlled by pimps,” Susan Kay Hunter, “Prostitution is Cruelty and Abuse to Women and Children,” Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 1 (1993), p. 100; ‘[H]e [the pimp] typically appropriates all of the woman’s money,” Evelina Giobbe, “An Analysis of Individual, Institutional, and Cultural Pimping,” Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 1(1993), p. 45; “A common tactic used by pimps and traffickers to control prostitutes is to coercively addict them to drugs,” Melissa Farley et al., “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” Journal of Trauma Practice, Vol. 2, nos. 3-4 (2003), p. 63; “pimps attempt to maintain complete control over ‘their’ women and ensure that the women are too terrified and too psychologically and physically broken down to contemplate escape,” Christine Stark and Carol Hodgson, “Sister Oppressions: A Comparison of Wife Battering and Prostitution,” Journal of Trauma Practice, Vol. 2 (2003), p.22; “A pimp uses physical and sexual violence to control where [his captive] goes, sell her as a commodity, force her into unwanted sex, and prevent her from escaping prostitution,” Kelly Holsopple, “Pimps, Tricks, and Feminists,” Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27 (Spring-Summer 1999), p. 47.

[3] “Eighty-eight percent of this group of prostituted people expressed a desire to leave prostitution.” Melissa Farley and Howard Barkan, “Prostitution, Violence, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” Women & Health, Vol. 27(3) 1998, p. 44; “[N]inety percent [of Toronto prostitutes] wanted to leave but could not,” Catherine A. MacKinnon, “Prostitution and Civil Rights,” Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 1 (1993), p. 14; “Research in 9 countries found that 89% of all those in prostitution said that they were in prostitution because they had no alternatives for economic survival and that they saw no means of escape,” Melissa Farley, “Theory Versus Realty: Commentary on Four Articles about Trafficking for Prostitution,” Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 32 (2009), p. 311; “Ninety-two percent of women and girls in prostitution said they want to leave the job but don’t have the education, ability or resources to do so,” Lindsay Fague, “The Case Against Legalizing Prostitution,” The Gonzaga Bulletin, Spokane, Washington, November 28, 2012,

[4] “[M]ost women beginning prostitution as sexually abused adolescents,” Melissa Farley, “Prostitution Is Sexual Violence,” Psychiatric Times, October 2004,; “A prostituted woman may be battered and raped by thousands of men every year,” Christine Stark and Carol Hodgson, “Sister Oppressions: A Comparison of Wife Battering and Prostitution,” Journal of Trauma Practice, Vol. 2 (2003), p.23; “75-95% of prostituted individuals were sexually abused as children,” Norma Hotaling, Kristie Miller, and Elizabeth Trudeau, “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls: A Survivor Service Provider’s Perspective,” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Vol. 18 (2006), p. 183; “Ninety-nine percent” of prostitutes have been abused as children, Lois Lee, Expert Testimony, United States v. Jaron Brice, March 2006, p. 142,; “80-95% of prostituted persons have suffered some form of violence before entering prostitution (rape, incest, paedophilia),” Mary Honeyball, “Report on Sexual Exploitation and Prostitution and its Impact on Gender Equality,” Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, European Parliament, 2013, p. 10; “[T]he average prostitute is beaten 58 times per year,” Lindsay Fague, “The Case Against Legalizing Prostitution,” Gonzaga Bulletin, November 28, 2012,

[5] The full list of authors: Ric Curtis, Karen Terry, Meredith Dank, Kirk Dombrowski, and Biial Khan at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City, and Amy Muslim, Melissa Labriola, and Michael Rempel at the Center for Court Innovation, New York City. The full title: “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City,” Volume One: The CSEC Population in New York City: Size, Characteristics, and Needs. A Report Funded by and submitted to the National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice, September 2008,

[6] Meredith L Dank, The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2011).

[7] CSEC-NY, p. 6; see also pp. 32ff. See Dank, Commercial Sexual Exploitation, pp. 30-31.

[8] CSEC-NY, p.p. 39, 112; Dank, Commercial Sexual Exploitation, p. 56.

[9] “The project recruited a few pimped girls in the first 8 weeks of the study (n=8), and others who were interviewed said that they knew pimped girls (n=36) and thus, it seemed apparent that it was possible to refer them in this fashion if the recruitment trees were allowed to continue to grow. But given the limits of the sample size, the research team decided that it was necessary to alter the recruitment process to increase the number of pimped girls in the sample.” CSEC-NY, p. 30. See Dank, Commercial Sexual Exploitation, p. 70.

[10] CSEC-NY, pp. 35, 113, 40, 42-43.

[11] CSEC-NY, p. 46.

[12] CSEC-NY, pp. 47, 72. “[One] somewhat surprising finding early in the data collection process that led the researchers to slightly alter their questions about pimps, was that some youth that described an adult as enabling their entry to CSEC markets did not want to portray themselves as being manipulated by a pimp. Some youth seemed to portray pimps as “market facilitators” rather than exploiters of children, and when the researchers adopted this seemingly-neutral, market-oriented language to describe pimps, youth seemed far more willing to discuss their relationships with them (pp. 58-59). . . . By the end of data collection phase, the project had recruited 41 youth who were currently working for pimps or what we referred to as market facilitators when talking with the youth; 31 were girls and 10 were boys (p. 72). Emphasis added.

[13] CSEC-NY, p. 48.

[14] Dank, Commercial Sexual Exploitation, p. 94 (“unable to find a conventional job”). By law in New York, individuals under the age of 16 cannot work more than 4 hours a day and 28 hours a week. This law proves a barrier to any 14 or 15 year-old supporting himself or herself through legal work. Individuals 16 and 17 years of age can work full-time provided they possess a Full-Time Employment Certificate, but getting this certificate requires parental consent. Since many of the youth in the New York City sex markets were not living with, and were estranged, from their parents, the Full-Time Employment Certificate is likewise a barrier to legal work.

[15] CSEC-NY, p. 108.

[16] CSEC-NY, p. 103. Emphasis added.

[17] CSEC-NY, p. 108.

[18] CSEC-NY, p. 109; Dank, Commercial Sexual Exploitation, p. 97.

[19] CSEC-NY, pp. 70, Table, 81, Table.

[20] CSEC-NY, pp. 83-85, 74, 86.

[21] CSEC-NY, p. 119.

[22] CSEC-NY, p. 116.

[23] CSEC-NY, p. 117.

[24] Kristen Hinman, “Lost Boys,” Village Voice, Nov 2 2011,

[25] Meredith Dank, Bilal Khan, P. Mitchell Downey, Cybele Kotonias, Deborah Mayer, Colleen Owens, Laura Pacifici, and Lilly Yu, “Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities,” Washington, DC: Urban Institute, February 2014, p. 50, table.

[26] The cities studied were Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Kansas City was omitted from the dollar estimation of underground activity. See 8 Cities, pp. 13, 14, 16, 131, 216 for description of the interview process and the interviewees.

[27] 8 Cities, p. 12

[28] 8 Cities, p. 76.

[29] 8 Cities, pp. 85, 84.

[30] 8 Cities, pp. 109 (San Diego), 118 (Seattle), 130 (Atlanta).

[31] 8 Cities, pp. 101 (Denver), 129 (all cities).

[32] 8 Cities, p. 68.

[33] 8 Cities, p. 115.

[34] 8 Cities. p. 111.

[35] 8 Cities, pp. 125, 80, 107, 124.

[36] 8 Cities, p. 173; see also p. 124.

[37] 8 Cities, p. 178: “Fifteen percent of respondents to this study reported using violence to control their employees.”

[38] 8 Cities, pp. 104 (referring to San Diego pimps), 153, 156.

[39] 8 Cities, pp. 147, 162.

[40] 8 Cities, p. 136.

[41] 8 Cities, pp. 156-157; but see p. 179 (no escape).

[42] 8 Cities, p. 178. Emphasis added.

[43] 8 Cities, p. 285 (“Different forms of coercion and fraud are used by pimps to recruit, manage, and retain control over employees. These forms include feigning romantic interest, emphasizing mutual dependency between pimp and employee, discouraging women from “having sex for free,” and promises of material comforts.”)

[44] 8 Cities, p. 180 (“The majority of respondents reported that they did not use violence, but employed other tactics to impose discipline and maintain control. One basic form of discipline equated to simply firing an employee. Respondents with escort services imposed similar practices.”)

[45] 8 Cities, p. 221. Emphasis added.

[46] 8 Cities, pp. 224, 227.

[47] 8 Cities, p. 229.

[48] 8 Cities, p. 228.

[49] 8 Cities, p. 242.

[50] 8 Cities, p. 245-247.