The traditional way of looking at prostitution is being changed. Academics and criminal justice officials are moving to the concept of "sex trafficking" which stresses that the pimps (men) are the villains while the prostitutes (women) are the victims. Grown women, as well as underage girls, are assumed to be exploited. Criminal justice policy is also shifting toward greater punishment for Johns (men). The old pimp/prostitute understanding was insufficiently feminist.
Some police departments are devoting considerable resources to convict traffickers who could easily get 10 years behind bars for sex trafficking.
So who are the traffickers? Is the stereotype of the black pimp based in reality?
This Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report gives the breakdown:
Percent of all trafficker suspects by race
I'll assume many of the "others" are American Indians. Of course, we need to adjust for group size. Since whites have the lowest rate, we'll make them the comparison group. The list below shows how many times a member of a given group is more likely to be a pimp than a white person:
Compared to whites, blacks are 16.8 times more likely to be pimps. That's a huge difference, but the difference is about as large for Asians. (I treated "Other" as Native Americans, but that is probably an inflated number since the category will include non-Natives).
Asians usually have the lowest crime rates (by far) but not here. My guess is that white men are much less likely to be pimps because they are more decent to women generally. In the next post, I'll look specifically at child and labor trafficking.
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