In July 2000, the Center for Impact Research (CIR) began investigating prostitution in the Chicago metropolitan area. The first phase of the project established an estimate of the prevalence of prostitution activities, documenting that a minimum of 16,000 women and girls in the Chicago metropolitan area are engaged regularly in the prostitution industry. Due to violence, substance abuse, homelessness, and health problems, women often are unable to safely exit prostitution. The second phase of the project more closely examined the lives of women in prostitution, in order to better understand their needs for services and support.
CIR trained 12 prostitution survivors to conduct in-depth interviews with women throughout the Chicago metropolitan area who were currently, or had recently been, involved in prostitution. In all, 222 women representing various segments of the prostitution industry were interviewed. While this was not a random sample, and is not representative of all women engaged in prostitution, we believe it is large enough to provide helpful information for understanding the lives of women in prostitution, and what can be done to assist them.