Pimps and Traffickers

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In the academic literature a pimp is defined as ‘one who controls the actions and lives off the proceeds of one or more women who work the streets’ (Williamson and Cluse-Tolar 2002). But this gender-neutral language belies the gender and racial stereotypes usually applied to the figure of the pimp. Pimps are almost always seen to be men who exploit female sex workers; in film and popular literature, pimps are often African—American men. Clearly, however, pimping can be performed on and off the street; it can be conducted by women (who may be called ‘madams’ or ‘escort managers’ instead of pimps) and by men of all nationalities. Pimps may also simply be the partners of sex workers, perhaps offering protection and support on the street or during an escort call, or (like other partners) just sharing income. In many jurisdictions (for example, in the USA and UK), living off the earnings of the prostitution of another is always illegal. In other jurisdictions (for example, in parts of Australia), ‘living off earnings’ is only illegal if it has been achieved via coercion. This latter approach allows for sex workers to share their income in the way they see fit and thus gives sex workers the same rights as other workers.

It is likely that pimp-controlled prostitution is more common in countries where prostitution is illegal; in jurisdictions where prostitution is legal sex workers have more agency and are generally less vulnerable to coercion. It is clear from the literature that pimp-controlled prostitution is both gendered and dangerous. Pimp-controlled prostitutes are more likely to be female than male; they are also more likely to be drug-addicted and to experience violence (from clients and pim In the academic literature a pimp is defined as ‘one who controls the actions and lives off the proceeds of one or more women who work the streets’ (Williamson and Cluse-Tolar 2002). But this gender-neutral language belies the gender and racial stereotypes usually applied...
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