Myths and Facts
From movies like “Pretty Woman” to the evening news, everywhere we turn myths are perpetuated about prostitution. Is prostitution really a choice? Are women getting rich? What role do men play in perpetuating the sex trade?
Fact Sheets for Download
The Truth About Prostitution
End Demand Illinois has a research-based philosophy that guides our work to address prostitution and sex trafficking:
It’s here, in our own backyard
One study indicates that here in Chicago, more than 16,000 women and girls are involved in prostitution-related activities on any given day (i). Countless others, including men and boys, are also prostituted throughout the state.
Violence is inherent to prostitution, and women are most often the victims
The public health risks associated with prostitution are well documented and acknowledged. Interviews of women in prostitution conducted in Chicago reveal that high percentages experienced physical and sexual violence, regardless of the type of prostitution activity.
Men who buy sex are harming women and children
Johns (people who buy sex or “customers”) were the most frequently identified perpetrators of this violence, followed by intimate partners and pimps. Police officers were also identified as being responsible for some of this violence.
There is a large overlap between prostitution and sex trafficking
In one study, sixty two-percent of women in prostitution first exchanged sex for money before the age of eighteen, and large percentages experienced homelessness (ii) Women enter the sex trade for many reasons. For some it is pure economic necessity; others enter and stay in the sex trade through some form of coercion exercised by another person (iii)—which is the definition of trafficking. No matter the reason for entry, it is clear that those who enter prostitution and are trafficked are often some of society's most vulnerable, and their experiences once in the sex trade are violent and often psychologically devastating.
i Claudine O'Leary and Olivia Howard, "The Prostitution of Women and Girls in Metropolitan Chicago: A Preliminary Prevalence Report," (report, Center for Impact Research, Chicago 2001). ii Jody Raphael and Deborah L. Shapiro, "Sisters Speak Out: The Lives and Needs of Prostituted Women in Chicago," (report, Center for Impact Research, Chicago 2002). iii Ibid.