There’s been a quiet change going on in the sex slavery business. According to the United Nations, there are now more female traffickers than male. The number of women involved as pimps in sex trafficking is disproportionate to the number of female perpetrators in other criminal activity. The United Nations’ report, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, agrees with previous estimates from the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office (TIP) that sex trafficking accounts for the majority — nearly 80 percent — of human trafficking, with the victims overwhelmingly women and girls.
What is not surprising is that most of the female traffickers are former victims of trafficking or former prostituted girls or women. Those of us who have been “in the trenches” fighting against the scourge of human trafficking know the overwhelming challenges that face those who escape or are rescued from sex slavery; the road back to normalcy is long, and the emotional and psychological ties to the “slave master” are difficult to break. The feeling that there is no escape or nowhere else to go can be overwhelming, and it draws girls back into the trap of slavery.
We are all familiar with the term “Stockholm Syndrome” — the condition wherein a hostage emotionally bonds with the captor, even when there are opportunities to escape. One of the prime tools used by the pimp is the creation of emotional ties which convince the victim that there is no turning back. Thus, their mode of operation is to separate the victim from everything that is familiar, cruelly bring the victim into submission through assaults and beatings, after which they take control of the victim’s life in ways that make her both terrified and, in time, pathetically grateful for even small kindnesses that stand in stark contrast to the violence and assaults. The pimp doles out just enough affection to keep the victim in line and raise hope that a relationship exists or is about to flower into reality. In some environments, the girls under a pimp’s control are tattooed with his name, but, even then, the fear of punishment is always an underlying threat. After awhile, the victim comes to believe that there is no going back, that she is stuck in a dead-end partnership with the pimp.
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