Prostitution as a Form of Sex Trafficking

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Meaning and Terms of Prostitution

Prostitution is a form of sex trafficking, a “business”, that can either be organized by a pimp and/or independently by the male or woman prostitute, trading sexual acts for money, drugs, housing, food, and many other material items. According to Hughes, D. M., & de Compostela, S. (2004),  “There are regions of the world where prostitution has gone from being almost non-existent to a hundred million dollar money making industry”.  A Prostitute is the male or female exploiting their bodies to another individual with the hope of getting something in return, which most of the time, is for money.

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A Pimp is an individual who controls the prostitutes clients and money, acting as “protection” for them as they are in the streets. A Renegade is a slang word for an individual who works in the prostitution ring all by themselves, with no pimp. Many consider prostitution to be more on the scale of voluntary, rather than forced. Not to mention, many of these women, (or males) admit to making the choice themselves to freely trade sexual acts for other things. Though, what most fail to realize, is the outside influences that lead towards the ultimate decision to exploit themselves. With there being another factor for the choice, the prostitute is not fully to blame nor fully responsible for how they “choose” to make money. Also, there is the cases where they are forced into selling their bodies by the pimp. Those type of pimps are called gorilla pimps, they are the group of pimps that use violence and scare tactics on their workers, manipulating them to obey every word. Around the world today, there is a major crisis concerning sex trafficking, affecting millions of women, children, and thousands of men in prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation.

A Man’s World

The first contributing factor I will be discussing is the sexism encouraged around all the United States today. All throughout media, and society, woman are being portrayed as sex objects, which is promoted so often it has just evolved into a normality. In fact, in a study conducted on sexist messages in advertising and the media, they were able to conclude it under four basic themes, (1) Women are only housewives and homemakers, (2) Women are only capable of simple decisions that hold no true cost, (3) Women need men for everything and last but not least, (4) Women hold no personality and are only good as sex objects (Hall, C. C. I., & Crum, M. J., 1994). Besides the fact women are looked upon by men this way, women themselves have accepted this message and are basing their beliefs upon these specific lies. For example, in the music industry, the woman idols of 2018, are literally glorifying “doing what you have to do to get that money”. For example, Cardi B, a new female rapper, wrote in her lyrics,” f*ck him, than I get some money”, and those who look up to her listen to her lyrics and begin to conform to this message. Sexism has lead to women being conditioned to live under a man’s law. In fact, according to Decriminalization, W. E. (1973).” Men are defined by their achievements and associations outside of the home. Women are defined by their men or absence of men. A woman’s main function is to be available to a man; to provide him comfort and sexual satisfaction in return for economic security”. The lack of power, respect, and truth have most definitely lead to a prostitutes decision to exploit themselves and sell their bodies not only gaining money, but also becoming apart of the stereotype that men are the rulers of a women and their body.

Emotional and Economic Factors

Another leading factor for why people chose to become prostitutes, is the trauma and stressors faced on an everyday basis. Emotional, mental, and economic factors play humongous roles on a prostitute and there way of fulfilling their desires for love, lust, money, and attention. Sexual abuse has significant impact on a person’s decision to becoming a prostitute. In fact, on a study done on 200 juvenile and adult street prostitutes, 70% reported that their sexual exploitation in childhood lead to their decisions as becoming prostitutes (Silbert and Pines, 1981). Also, according to, Marwitz, G., Henle, R., & Luber, E. M. (1990), “Besides drug abuse, mental and physical disorders, prostitution is yet another attempt to cope with the once endured sexual violence”.  Not only does abuse lead to prostitution but so can being stricken by poverty. According to Anon (1912),  “poverty is not only a primary cause of prostitution but also a secondary cause running into other social conditions”.  Which can be caused by the lack of employment or because its an easier faster approach for money, especially when your taking care of a family and/or living a life that desires money continuously, such as a drug addiction. These are two out of the many leading factors that result in an individual making a choice they felt they had no choice in.

Missing guidance

The final contributing factor is the lack of parental guidance and support. With no guidance or support present, it can lead a child into seeking direction in anything that’s willing to support the attention. According to Information Parlour. (n.d.), ” Those with busy or care-free parents tend to be lured into various social vices. The ladies are free to attend parties, where they are exposed to bad influence and girls already involved in prostitution, will deceive and lure them into prostitution”. Also in a study done between prostitutes and other “normal” woman, as stated by the author, the prostitutes all shared negative experiences such as “incestuous and/or coerced sex, lack parental guidance, sex at a younger age, and few or no meaningful relationships with males” (Intercourse, A. A. F., 1977). Childhood/teenage years are the most vulnerable stage for a individual, it’s a time for self seeking and searching. Therefore with no positive parental direction a child can be mislead into any course in life.


Prostitution is not only an act that strips someone out of their clothes but also their identity and personality. It’s a draining “job”, that also has very dangerous perks to it. For someone to risk their entire safety just to make fast cash, just simply proves that there were some outside factors, influencing this individual’s decision. Nobody wakes up one day and says, “One day I wanna grow up and sell my pussy to old dirty men, and get all used up and abused by the age of 25”. Life has a way of making it seem as if there’s no other choice to some people. Reality has a sad truth to it, and this world has nor will ever be perfect. Yes, some of these prostitutes chose to sell their bodies, yes they were the ones who ultimately made the decision, but the question is, “what made them do it”.

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Prostitution as a Form of Sex Trafficking. (2019, May 09). Retrieved from