For some victims, rescue and restoration means having an opportunity to help others caught in the same crime. Some open shelters; others speak out publicly about the crime. Some of the most effective anti-trafficking advocates are former victims who understand trafficking and prostitution at a level others cannot possible comprehend.
Another route — a very tragic and sad one — is for girls and women to turn from victim to victimizer. A pimp will sometimes use an older prostitute to gain a girl’s trust and convince her to come along with them — often with promises of modeling or movie opportunities. Sometimes — when the sense of right and wrong is deadened, when it is the only life a woman or girl knows, when the lure of “easy money” prevails, when life boils down to nothing more than concern for self, and when the conscience is so hardened it is impossible to feel for others, former victims begin to victimize others.
In February, a widely-publicized case in Phoenix brought to light two teenage girls who were indicted for child prostitution and other felony crimes. One of the things that came out in interviews was that the girls had “a pimp in the past.” The two teens had rented an apartment and used it for pimping at least five other teenage girls between the ages of 14 and 17 years old. The recruits told police that the two girls assured them that they would be “better off working for [girl pimps] as opposed to male pimps because they would not get beat up.”
However, those who actually know what female pimps are like would disagree. According to a story in the Saudi-based Arab News, over 107 female pimps were arrested in Dubai this spring as part of an ongoing campaign against vice. The head of the vice unit said, “The women pimps run the brothels with an iron fist.”
The narrative about good-hearted women pimps is being deliberately cultivated in some circles. A documentary about spa-brothels, “Happy Endings,” was released this summer. Professor Donna M. Hughes of the University of Rhode Island criticized the film’s distortions. Three Korean women who are the owners or operators of brothels — in other words, they were the female pimps, and as Professor Hughes points out, “possibly traffickers” — carried the narration and conveyed the message that the prostituted women were there voluntarily and were happy. As Dr. Hughes said, “Letting the women-pimps speak for the women doing the sex acts is like letting the owners of a sweat shop speak for the people running the sewing machines.”
Whether the pimp is a man or a woman is really irrelevant: Anyone who enslaves another human being and uses them as a commercial commodity is committing a heinous crime and needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.