A pimp is an agent (usually male) for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. This act is called procuring or pandering. The pimp may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing, and possibly monopolizing, a location where he or she (i.e. the prostitute) may engage clients. A woman who runs a brothel is known as a madam rather than a pimp.
Like prostitution, the legality of certain actions of a madam or a pimp vary from one region to the next. Pimps may punish johns for physical abuse or failure to pay, advertise services to potential clients without alerting police, and enforce exclusive rights to 'turf' where their prostitutes may advertise and operate with less competition. In the many places where prostitution is outlawed, sex workers have decreased incentive to report abuse for fear of self-incrimination, and increased motivation to seek any physical protection from clients and law enforcement that a pimp might provide.
The pimp-prostitute relationship can be abusive and possessive, with the pimp/madam using techniques such as psychological intimidation, manipulation, starvation, rape and/or gang rape, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim’s family, forced drug use and the shame from these acts. Pimps can be arrested and charged with pandering and are legally known as procurers.