Studies look at prostitution in Chicago

CHICAGO One study that focused on women found they are lured into prostitution for food, money and drugs. Researchers also found that most prostitutes began regular involvement in the sex trade around the age of 16 and 70-percent were recruited or groomed by charming, manipulative pimps, friends and relatives who offered them support or money for selling sex.

"They are going to need safe housing. They're going to need treatment for drug addiction and safety planning. How do I escape and where and where do I go?" said Jody Raphael, DePaul University College of Law, who is behind the study.

Brenda Powell and Olivia Howard, both survivors of prostitution, helped in the research.

"I've been shot. I've been stabbed 13 times. Many things have happened to me in my prostitution. It cost me a great deal of my life. I didn't leave prostitution until the age of 39," said Powell.

Powell and Howard now try to help young women get out of prostitution. For the study, they interviewed both prostitutes and johns.

"Some of them saying that there was some remorse. Some of them really asking and seeking some help after the interview was done. It was the first time that there was a dialogue that they began to really take a look at their own behavior," said Howard.

According to a study by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, 53-percent of the johns purchased sex as frequently as once a month to several times a week. And, 83-percent consider buying sex a condition.

"These men also have lived troubled lives and started buying sex at a very early age and that's impacted their idea of what women are like," said Samir Goswami, Justice Project Against Sexual Harm.

Both studies recommend educating girls and boys and empowering them so they will not be exploited or exploit others.

"Some of these men are very sick men who have been abused themselves. And who need to be taught early on that this is not acceptable," said Howard.

Some of the organizations are working on a sexual health program in schools, which recommends educating children about sexual abuse and prostitution.

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