In Does Legalizing Prostitution Work?, the author says that even after prostitution is legal, a lot of women are still forced into prostitution.

These women are Amsterdam's leading tourist attraction (followed by the coffee shops that sell marijuana). But an estimated 50 to 90 percent of them are actually sex slaves, raped on a daily basis with police idly standing by.

Maybe all this time I was wrong. Maybe most prostitution are indeed forced. I thought otherwise.

Well, can anyone verify?

Perhaps the issue is on the definition of consent, sex slavery, and rape. If you want to give percentage based on various definition of consent, it would be ideal.

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    To anyone answering: human trafficking statistics often are a mess. Be careful to read the methodology of what you cite in your answers.
    – Borror0
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 12:21
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    Some people I know consider traditional employment slavery too, because most people do it out of necessity and do not realistically have any choice about working or not working. Does being a sex worker out of necessity count?
    – RomanSt
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 1:11
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    That's my point all along. Most sex workers are not even doing it out of necessity. Some got paid $5500 per hour. Some have marriage offers. Most are smart and hot enough for at least some decent job. Some, like sugar babies variety, simply want marriage like relationship free from governments' interference. Marriage on the other hand actually kicked out the richest most desirable males out of mating market. Yet everyone acts as if it's obvious that all those sex workers exploited. Well, in a sense everyone else is yes. But how?
    – user4951
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 1:15
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    Take a look at this: economics.stackexchange.com/questions/764/… It's far more easier for me to see that marriage is non consensual than sugar babies as non consensual.
    – user4951
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 1:25
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    @Jim: I said human trafficking, not prostitution (though that would be a true statement). As all underground activity, estimates is the closest to we have to accuracy. Unlike legal industries, the only way we can quantify is by appropriations and extrapolations of limited data. Then, there's the definition of what qualifies as human trafficking which may be important based on context. Being smuggled does not necessarily imply compelled prostitution - or other forms of slavery. Brooke Magnanti elaborates further on that subject on her blog if you're curious.
    – Borror0
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 12:27

1 Answer 1


So far, I have been unable to find any estimates that reach the 50-90% figure quoted.

The Eighth report of the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings (2010) explains the difficulty:

There are conflicting estimates of the scale of human trafficking from different organisations and countries. It is therefore very difficult to be certain about the scale of the problem, which underlines the need for the systematic and coordinated collection and management of data.


Since human trafficking is often hidden and victims are often unwilling or afraid to speak out (or do not realise that they are victims), there are probably a large number of unknown cases of human trafficking (a large ‘dark number’). Consequently, statistical trends based on the number of known cases of human trafficking usually do not directly reflect developments in the total number of cases of human trafficking. The number of known situations of human trafficking depends to a large extent on factors such as the public attention for human trafficking, the priorities of the investigative services and the public prosecution service, the method of registration employed by victim support organisations, and changes in the law.

However, they do have a detailed analysis of the reported cases of Human Trafficking in the Netherlands, and the numbers are disturbing, with over 900 victims reported in 2009.

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Of these, at least 45% were being exploited in the sex industry (likely a lot higher, given the significant "unknown" figure):

enter image description here

Obviously, the unreported crime figures are likely to be much higher. These numbers should be compared with the number of prostitutes in the Netherlands - Wikipedia cites a number of different studies that range from 15,000 to 30,000.

As for consent, the 2004 version of the report includes figures on how the traffickers gained compliance:

enter image description here

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    I think you have misunderstood the situation. It isn't the people who are paying for the sex; it is the people who are selling the women who are committing these acts. I also think that you are over-estimating what a typical, consenting sex-worker earns in an hour, let alone what these victims are earning. (I'm not dignifying your absurd characterisations of marriage, consent, religion, ethics and the alternatives to being a sex-slave with a response.)
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 12:58
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    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 22:27
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    Thank you, @Tiberiu-Ionuț, for your speculations. I have provided a report generated by a bureau of the Dutch government to support this position. Here is another article with anecdotes about the use of Voodoo. I look forward to some counter-evidence from you.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 23:23
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    @user1873: Here's a map showing the difference between the Netherlands and Belgium, and here is a definition of the term guilt by association. :-)
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 4:43
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    If prostitution is not consensual, why not charge the pimp with rape? Why do we need laws against prostitution? If women are tricked into prostitution, why not charge the pimp with fraud? We already have laws against rape, fraud, false imprisonment, slavery, why do we have laws against prostitution and trafficking is beyond me. I can have a good guess, but it'll piss off moral conservative.
    – user4951
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 17:43

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