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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/12/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Three-year study finds startling data on underground U.S. economy

Gang activity, coupled with physical violence and psychological manipulation drives the United States' illegal sex trade. An extensive three-year study of eight U.S. cities revealed a startling wealth of information on how the nation's pimps, traffickers and child pornographers operate.  

Pimps who were interviewed thought their activities were less risky than others, such as drug trafficking. Many interviewees said in all honesty that 'no one actually gets locked up for pimping.'

Pimps who were interviewed thought their activities were less risky than others, such as drug trafficking. Many interviewees said in all honesty that "no one actually gets locked up for pimping."

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/12/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Pimps, prostitutes, child pornographers


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The study found that many pimps and prostitutes enter their line of work because they had a relative who worked in it -- or a friend who encouraged them. Neighborhood influence, poor job prospects and childhood trauma also played a role.

While sex workers are physically coerced to work for and stay with a pimp, researchers found that psychological manipulation played a major role as well. Promises of attention and "bigger and better things" down the road keep many young women - and sometimes men into sexual slavery. Both psychological and/or emotional abuse was used as a form of punishment to keep employees in line.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The study suggests that coercion, and not just physical but also the more subtle, non-physical forms in their definition of sex trafficking.

Gangs are increasingly involved in prostitution and sex trafficking. Even the most rival gangs will temporarily put aside their differences to work cooperatively in order to maximize their profits, such as sharing the same hotel out of which their prostitutes work.

Some pimps also form networks across cities and regions, operating more as a brotherhood than as rivals. Transporting their sex workers to another city, their networks keep them appraised of law enforcement activities and offer advice on finding clients.

Pimps who were interviewed thought their activities were less risky than others, such as drug trafficking. Many interviewees said in all honesty that "no one actually gets locked up for pimping."

The world's oldest profession has also taken a high-tech twist. The online sex market is perceived by participants as being less risky in terms of detection by law enforcement.

More tellingly, the underground sex economy is aided by above-board businesses. A hotel's employees may look the other way when a pimp does business out of that hotel -- and may even accept payment for doing so.

A pimp's friends or family may even serve as drivers or security detail for his prostitutes.

More horrifically, researchers found that there's an increasing amount of child pornography being produced in the United States, and it's increasingly graphic and violent -- often available for free. Offenders interviewed said they were part of online child pornography communities.

"Why pay?" one respondent told researchers. "I guess I just assumed that anyone asking for money was a sting."

Those incarcerated for non-contact child porn offenses -- such as possession and distribution -- said they consider it a victimless crime since they weren't producing the pornography.

The study was conducted by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center analyzes the size and structure of the underground commercial sex economies. Eight major U.S. cities surveyed San Diego, Seattle, Dallas, Denver, Washington, D.C., Miami, Atlanta and Kansas City, Missouri.

Atlanta had the largest cash-based underground sex economy at $290 million a year and Denver the smallest at $40 million, based on 2007 data.

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