ABOUT SEX TRAFFICKING
It’s common knowledge that sex is used to sell products and services, but did you know that sex (itself) is being sold on a daily basis…in your city? You may not see a prostitute walking down your street or a pimp going door to door offering her services, but it’s happening in plain sight whether you realize it or not.
While the image of a pimp and prostitute have been glamorized through movies such as “Pretty Woman” and “Hustle & Flow”, there is nothing beautiful about the dark underbelly of the sex industry.
Maybe you’ve heard the term sex trafficking.
It’s simply a politically-correct way of saying sexual slavery.
While public slavery in the United States is over, there is still a large market for buying and selling women and children…in your city. It’s being sold through ads in the back weekly newspapers, posts on Craigslist.com and Backpage.com, at massage parlors, via escort services, at truck stops, and at a motel you drive by on a daily basis.
STACIA FREEMAN - US Director - Hope for Justice
While it’s possible for a child of any background to be kidnapped and forced into sex trafficking, traffickers usually target the most vulnerable children in our society. The runaways, throwaways, the sexually abused and forgotten children coming out of broken families are the most vulnerable to this atrocious crime. When love, safety, and acceptance are not present in a family environment, a child can easily be deceived into believing empty promises.
THE PROCESS OF SEX TRAFFICKING
This vulnerable person is usually a woman or child who is in a situation where their weakness can be taken advantage of. In the case of a child, physical or sexual abuse often starts in their home at the hands of a relative, foster parent, or close family friend – causing them to assume that abuse is a normal way of life. Without a sense of love or safety, the child may run away from home and find themselves on the street without food or shelter. Or, they may come into contact with someone who makes them initially feel special or wanted.
The situation isn’t much different in the case of an adult…a past that includes abuse, a need for love, and susceptible to the false promises of a trafficker.
Beyond a need for power and control, a sex trafficker’s primary motive for prostituting women is money.
Polaris Project, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit working with victims of human trafficking recently conducted an informal analysis of a pimp’s wages, based on direct client accounts. One teenage girl was forced to meet quotas of $500/night, 7 days a week and gave the money to her trafficker each night. This particular pimp also controlled three other women. Based on these numbers, Polaris Project estimates that the pimp made $632,000 in one year from four young women and girls.
- – Warmth, gifts, and compliments.
- – Elaborate promises of a better life, fast money, and future luxuries.
- – Physical and sexual intimacy.
Traffickers engage in constant recruiting to entice women and children into their web of control. Common recruiting locations include junior high and high schools, courtrooms, hallways of court buildings, foster homes, bus stations, group homes, homeless shelters, halfway houses, restaurants and bars, and parks and playgrounds/
This process includes beatings, gang rape, confinement, torture, emotional abuse and insults, renaming and creating new identities, document confiscation, burning personal items, forced sexual education and pornography, and isolation.
Offenders are no longer confined to parading their victims on city streets. Today, a customer (or “john”) can shop online for a child from the privacy of home or a hotel room. Online classified advertising services have made it possible for pimps and operators to offer children and adolescents to prospective customers with little or no risk.
It is widely-known and well-documented that pimps establish nightly monetary quotas that the women and girls under their control must make in order to end each night of commercial sex. These quotas typically fall in the range of $500 – $1,000 each night. Through whatever means necessary (including forced theft), the woman or child must reach these quotas each night to be allowed to eat or sleep. If they not make enough money, they will be forced back out into her venue of commercial sex until they reach their quota. Quotas are strictly enforced, and the punishment for failing to meet a quota is severe physical retaliation from the pimp or other torture methods. It is also essential to note that in pimp-controlled situations, the women and girls keep zero of this money and turn over 100 percent of the profits to the pimp.
WHY DON’T THEY SEEK HELP?
According to Polaris Project, the women and children under a pimp’s control will often not self-identify as victims of sex trafficking or seek help on their own. The following is a list of common reasons why victims of domestic sex trafficking cannot or will not leave their exploitative situations:
– Locked indoors, locked in rooms, or locked in closets.
– Interactions are monitored or controlled by the sex trafficker (i.e., pimp).
Use of Violence
– Severe physical retaliation (beatings, rapes, sexual assault).
– Threats against loved ones.
– Humiliated by the activities they have been forced to perform.
– Brainwashed by the pimp to blame themselves.
– Relying on the pimp after years of control.
– May have a debt to the pimp that they feel they need to pay off.
– Stolkholm syndrome similar to Battered Women’s Syndrome.
– Unfamiliar with surroundings due to frequent movement.
– No personal ID or documentation which is often confiscated by the pimp.
– Brainwashed to fear law enforcement by the pimp or learned distrust of law enforcement due to direct negative experiences.
– Have been told lies or deceitful information
– Resigned to the “fact” that they’ll never get our of their situation.
– Feelings of no self-worth, disassociation, giving up, and apathy.
– May not understand social service infrastructure or how and where to access help.