Contrary to what people generally assume, it is not always the pimps who initiate minors into sex trade, says a study.
The role of peers, consumers and socio-economic conditions of the minors can be bigger than that of the pimps.
"The narrative of pimp trickery and coercion distorts reality in three ways," said the study.
"First, it overestimates the role of pimps in street sex markets; second, it overemphasises the impact of the initial recruitment stage on subsequent practices; and third, it masks or simplifies the difficult and complex choices and contingencies faced by minors who sell sex," the researchers noted.
Only 10 percent of the minors had a pimp at the time of research, only 1.6 percent lived with a pimp, and 47 percent reported not knowing a single pimp, showed the study that analysed the largest data ever collected in the US from minors working in the sex trade.
While pimps were responsible for initiating only 8.1 percent of the minors into sex work, minors were initiated by their peers 47 percent of the time and by customers 23 percent of the time.
While 87.2 percent of these young sex workers reported wanting to leave their line of work, none of them stated that a controlling pimp was their reason for staying, said the study.
The study appeared in the journal ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.