The world's oldest profession in the US is a complicated economy, drawing in pimps, sex workers, clients, police, and a number of other professions. While many of the details regarding the sex industry are difficult to confirm, recent studies have pulled back the curtain on a secretive world that operates on the edge.
Research published in the last few years regarding selling your body for money and human trafficking statistics reveals that what we thought we knew about both sex workers and their "bosses" needs to be adjusted. For example, most men who control these women have at least a high school education - and many people involved in this type of work were brought into it via family members. It's also hard to overstate how much the Internet has changed the nature of prostitution.
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.
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.
Many Women Find Work Through Their Family
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.
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 Catch. One 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.