Over the last couple years, the global perception of prostitution has shifted. It’s moved from away from the black and white thinking that plagued sex workers who chose it and those forced into human trafficking. I am saying that sex work is voluntary for some, they chose it as work. Their body, their choice but for others, it is not voluntary. This can be a controversial statement depending on the audience.
Pimps are human traffickers
In complete stereotypical fashion, my first thought was always pimps and sex workers, it’s just a business relationship. Never thought twice about it, until I became a social worker. After learning more about prostitution and all the different types, I began to view the “classic” pimp and sex worker relationship very differently. My current perception is that a pimp is a human trafficker. I had never thought about it that way until a training on human trafficking that highlighted the dynamics of the relationship that prevents sex work in that capacity from ever being competely voluntary.
This is not a simple business relationship, the worker is not a contract employee. Sex workers are obligated to bring money back to their pimps. Forced to where when they may not want to. Once force enters into the dynamic of the relationship, it can no longer voluntary. Pimps use emotional abuse, physical assault, threats, and other types of manipulations to make money off the back of the sex worker.
Trafficking Former Foster Youth
Youth with foster care experience have higher rates of sex trafficking than the average person. Traffickers use the guise of love and family to suck these youth into working for them. Names like “Daddy” help to illicit the feelings of families. For a youth who lacked substantial love and support, this is a perfect storm. These youth are particularly fearful of losing people in their life, even dangerous ones. This is why many of the youth don’t even recognize that they are being trafficked. Daddy loves them, Daddy is there for them, and Daddy will do anything to protect them; who case if they have to sleep with a few people or recruit other girls for them. Knowing the signs is half the battle.
Prosecuting and convicting traffickers is also a huge struggle. of these toxic dynamics that the pimp plays. I’ve had youth who’s pimps were picked up for physically attacking them and posted all of their social media “Bring Daddy Home”. They put up with physical abuse, emotional abuse, and maltreatment because it’s better to have “family” than to not. Classic domestic violence cycle.