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.However, studies like this one can come under scrutiny for a perceived emphasis on the activities and perspectives of pimps rather than those of sex workers themselves.The legality of different types of sex work varies within and between regions of the world.
In addition, sex trafficking, or forced sex work, is also difficult to quantify due to its underground and covert nature.
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.
Sex workers may also be hired to be companions on a trip or to perform sexual services within the context of a trip; either of these can be voluntary or forced labor.
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.
However, in other regions of the world, both pornography and prostitution are illegal; in others, both are legal.
In regions where sex work is illegal, advocates for sex workers' rights argue that the covert nature of illegal prostitution is a barrier to access to legal resources.
Some sex workers are paid to engage in sex acts or sexually explicit behavior which involve varying degrees of physical contact with clients (prostitutes and some but not all professional dominants); pornography models and actors engage in sexually explicit behavior which are filmed or photographed.
Phone sex operators have sexually-oriented conversations with clients, and do auditive sexual roleplay.
Other sex workers are paid to engage in live sexual performance, such as web cam sex and performers in live sex shows.
Some sex workers perform erotic dances and other acts for an audience (striptease, Go-Go dancing, lap dancing, Neo-burlesque, and peep shows).
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