The Life of a Street Prostitute—Quotas


It is widely-known and well-documented that pimps establish nightly monetary quotas that the women and girls under their control must make in order to end each night of commercial sex.  These quotas typically fall in the range of $500 - $1,000 each night.  Through whatever means necessary (including forced theft),  the woman or girl must reach these quotas each night to be allowed to eat or sleep.  If she does not make enough money, the woman or girl will be forced back out into her venue of commercial sex until she reaches her quota.  Quotas are strictly enforced, and the punishment for failing to meet a quota is severe physical retaliation from the pimp or other torture methods.


It is also essential to note that in pimp-controlled situations, the women and girls keep zero of this money and turn over 100 percent of the profits to the pimp.


How much income do pimps really make?  One teenage girl was forced to meet quotas of $500/night, 7 days a week and gave the money to her trafficker each night.  This particular pimp also controlled three other women.  Based on these numbers, Polaris Project estimates that the pimp made $632,000 in one year from four young women and girls.


For a wide variety of reasons, the women and girls under a pimp’s control will often not self-identify as victims of human trafficking or seek help on their own.  The following is a list of common reasons why victims of  domestic sex trafficking cannot or will not leave their exploitative situations:


  • Captivity/Confinement – locked indoors, locked in rooms, locked in closets
  • Frequent accompaniment/guarded – interactions are monitored or controlled by the pimp
  • Use and threat of violence – severe physical retaliation (beatings, rapes, sexual assault)
  • Fear – of physical retaliation, of death, or of arrest
  • Use and threat of reprisals against loved ones – against children or family members
  • Shame – about the activities they have been forced to perform
  • Self-blame – brainwashed by the pimp to blame themselves
  • Dependency – on the pimp after years of control
  • Debt bondage – may have a debt to the pimp that they feel they need to pay off
  • Loyalty to the pimp – Stolkholm syndrome, similarities to Battered Women’s Syndrome
  • Social barriers and unfamiliarity with surroundings – due to frequent movement
  • No personal ID or documentation – which is often confiscated by the pimp
  • Distrust of law enforcement – brainwashed to fear law enforcement by the pimp or learned distrust of law enforcement due to direct negative experiences
  • Isolation – from others, from other support structures, from means of relief
  • Misinformation and false promises – have been told lies or deceitful information
  • Hopelessness/Resignation – feelings of no self-worth, disassociation, giving up, apathy
  • Lack of knowledge of social systems – may not understand social service infrastructure or how and where to access help
  • Frequent movement – may not be in one place long enough to form social connections
  • Distrust of service providers – generalized impressions and perceived judgmental attitudes
  • Lies and false stories – may be self-generated or trained to tell lies, fake names, fake SSN


Common recruiting locations include:


  • Junior high and high schools
  • Group homes
  • Courtrooms
  • Homeless shelters
  • Hallways of court buildings
  • Halfway houses
  • Foster homes
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Bus stations
  • Parks and playgrounds


Typically women in prostitution are arrested rather than the pimp or johns.  They're victims who can be rehabilitated.  Things that can help:


  • Emergency, Transitional, and Long-term housing
  • Legal services
  • Medical/Mental health services
  • Clothing and food
  • Court and daily accompaniment
  • Crisis intervention
  • Emotional support and counseling
  • Employment assistance
  • Protection/safety planning
  • Social service advocacy
  • Transportation
  • GED
  • Governement benefits

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