Highlights from CLES’ research on prostitution

In 2014, la CLES (Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle) conducted a research with 109 women; 47 women were still in prostitution and 62 women were no longer in prostitution.

The women’s age ranged from 17 to 60.

62% of the women were prostituted in their homes and 47% of the women were involved in “street prostitution” (there is some overlap with the primary place of prostitution).

Half of the women entered prostitution before the age of 19. Many of them were first sexually exploited when they were younger than 14. 

Needing money was the main reason that women entered into prostitution, sometimes coupled with addiction and/or homelessness.

62 % of the women experienced violence during their childhoods, more than half of them were victims of incest (raped by their father or another male family member).

81% of all the women who were still in prostitution, and 95% of those in street prostitution, wanted to exit.

Out of those who were no longer in prostitution, 32 had experienced threats or pressure to stay in prostitution by their pimps and escort agency owners or employees, drug dealers or johns.

The exiting process is not linear. A third of the women who participated in the research were able to exit on their first try. For others, they went back and forth, leaving for a few weeks or months, returning for a while, sometimes over a period of multiple months or years, before exiting definitely. A quarter of women tried to leave prostitution at least 4 times, and some tried a dozen times, before exiting definitely.

For many women (77%), getting help from support organizations was important in their exiting process.
 

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