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Prostitution Facts*

The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 years (M.H. Silbert and A.M. Pines, 1982, "Victimization of street prostitutes, Victimology: An International Journal, 7: 122-133) or 14 years (D.Kelly Weisberg, 1985, Children of the Night: A Study of Adolescent Prostitution, Lexington, Mass, Toronto). Most of these 13 or 14 year old girls were recruited or coerced into prostitution. Others were "traditional wives" without job skills who escaped from or were abandoned by abusive husbands and went into prostitution to support themselves and their children. (Denise Gamache and Evelina Giobbe, Prostitution: Oppression Disguised as Liberation, National Coalition against Domestic Violence, 1990)

Estimates of the prevalence of incest among prostitutes range from 65% to 90%. The Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, Oregon Annual Report in 1991 stated that: 85% of prostitute/clients reported history of sexual abuse in childhood; 70% reported incest. The higher percentages (80%-90%) of reports of incest and childhood sexual assaults of prostitutes come from anecdotal reports and from clinicians working with prostitutes (interviews with Nevada psychologists cited by Patricia Murphy, Making the Connections: women, work, and abuse, 1993, Paul M. Deutsch Press, Orlando, Florida; see also Rita Belton, "Prostitution as Traumatic Reenactment," 1992, International Society for Traumatic Stress Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA M.H. Silbert and A.M. Pines, 1982, "Victimization of street prostitutes," Victimology: An International Journal, 7: 122-133; C. Bagley and L Young, 1987, "Juvenile Prostitution and child sexual abuse: a controlled study," Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, Vol 6: 5-26.)

80% of prostitution survivors at the WHISPER Oral History Project reported that their customers showed them pornography to illustrate the kinds of sexual activities in which they wanted to engage. 52% of the women stated that pornography played a significant role in teaching them what was expected of them as prostitutes. 30% reported that their pimps regularly exposed them to pornography in order to indoctrinate them into an acceptance of the practices depicted. (A facilitator's guide to Prostitution: a matter of violence against women, 1990, WHISPER - Women Hurt in Systems of Prostitution Engaged in Revolt Minneapolis, MN)

90% of prostituted women interviewed by WHISPER had pimps while in prostitution (Evelina Giobbe, 1987, WHISPER Oral History Project, Minneapolis, Minnesota).

"About 80% of women in prostitution have been the victim of a rape. It's hard to talk about this because..the experience of prostitution is just like rape. Prostitutes are raped, on the average, eight to ten times per year. They are the most raped class of women in the history of our planet. " (Susan Kay Hunter and K.C. Reed, July, 1990 "Taking the side of bought and sold rape," speech at National Coalition against Sexual Assault, Washington, D.C. ) Other studies report 68% to 70% of women in prostitution being raped (M Silbert, "Compounding factors in the rape of street prostitutes," in A.W. Burgess, ed., Rape and Sexual Assault II, Garland Publishing, 1988; Melissa Farley and Howard Barkan, "Prostitution, Violence, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder," 1998, Women & Health.)

78% of 55 women who sought help from the Council for Prostitution Alternatives in 1991 reported being raped an average of 16 times a year by pimps, and were raped 33 times a year by johns. (Susan Kay Hunter, Council for Prostitution Alternatives Annual Report, 1991, Portland, Oregon) 85% of prostitutes are raped by pimps. (Council on Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, 1994)

Prostitution is an act of violence against women which is intrinsically traumatizing. In a study of 475 people in prostitution (including women, men, and the transgendered) from five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia):

62% reported having been raped in prostitution. 73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution. 72% were currently or formerly homeless. 92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately. (Melissa Farley, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire, Ufuk Sezgin, "Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder" (1998) Feminism & Psychology 8 (4): 405-426)

A Canadian Report on Prostitution and Pornography concluded that girls and women in prostitution have a mortality rate 40 times higher than the national average. ( Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution, 1985, Pornography and Prostitution in Canada 350.) In one study, 75% of women in escort prostitution had attempted suicide. Prostituted women comprised 15% of all completed suicides reported by hospitals. (Letter from Susan Kay Hunter, Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Jan 6, 1993, cited by Phyllis Chesler in "A Woman's Right to Self-Defense: the case of Aileen Carol Wuornos," in Patriarchy: Notes of an Expert Witness, 1994, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine.)

*
Go get an update for these statistics, please go to
www.prostitutionresearch.com/Prostitution%20Quick%20Facts%2012-21-12.pdf

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These facts are excerpted with permission from the Prostitution Fact Sheet, compiled by Melissa Farley, at the Prostitution Research & Education site, www.prostitutionresearch.com

 



"In about 85 percent of
cases, sexual assaults
occur between people
who know each other."

Source: Diana Russell,
The Prevalence and Incidence of
Forcible Rape and Attempted Rape of Females, Victimology: An International Journal 7, 1-4 (1983).