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Sex worker advocates have identified this as whorephobia.The legality of different types of sex work varies within and between regions of the world.
Sex workers may be any gender and exchange sexual services or favors for money or other gifts.Many of these studies attempt to use smaller samples of sex workers and pimps in order to extrapolate about larger populations of sex workers.One report on the underground sex trade in the United States used known data on the illegal drug and weapon trades and interviews with sex workers and pimps in order to draw conclusions about the number of sex workers in eight American cities.In addition, finding a representative sample of sex workers in a given city can be nearly impossible because the size of the population itself is unknown.Maintaining privacy and confidentiality in research is also difficult because many sex workers may face prosecution and other consequences if their identities are revealed.The motives of sex workers vary widely and can include debt, coercion, survival, or simply as a way to earn a living.
These motives also align with varying climates surrounding sex work in different communities and cultures. Sex work can take the form of prostitution, stripping or lap dancing, performance in pornography, phone or internet sex, or any other exchange of sexual services for financial or material gain.
The term "sex worker" has since spread into much wider use, including in academic publications, by NGOs and labor unions, and by governmental and intergovernmental agencies, such as the World Health Organization.
The term is strongly opposed, however, by many who are morally opposed to the sex industry, such as social conservatives, anti-prostitution feminists, and other prohibitionists.
While abolitionism would call for an end to all sex work, empowerment would encourage the formation of networks among sex workers and enable them to prevent STIs and other health risks by communicating with each other.
Both approaches aim to reduce rates of disease and other negative effects of sex work.
Many studies struggle to gain demographic information about the prevalence of sex work, as many countries or cities have laws prohibiting prostitution or other sex work.