Part 6 ~ Six True Stories
(all names have been changed)
The following are six short stories showing the different ways girls and women can get pulled into prostitution. The main thing to see in these stories is that we need to rethink many of the rigid ideas we all have about how prostitution works.
We also want to remind you again of the excellent documentary titled "Very Young Girls", available from netflix for immediate play or from the makers of the film at GEMS. It's a documentary that will help you and others understand so much of what prostituted youngsters experience and the kind of help they need.
Tanya's and Ana's Story
Tanya and Ana were 14 years old and tight friends. They both had wonderful childhoods. One day, as most teens are want to do at some point, they decided to set off on an adventure and travel to a neighboring city. They simply told their parents they were going into town. Which they did. And went straight to the Grey Hound Bus Station, and hopped a bus to the next town. When they got off the bus they were excited that right away they met two guys their own age who wanted to take them to a party in a nearby park. When they got to the park, the group was met by an older man who gave the girls some very strong drugs. The next thing the girls knew, that very same day they were in a hotel room being sold to other men. Luckily, Tanya was able to escape. She went directly to the police. The police were able to find Anna and make arrests of the all the guys involved.
- Tanya's and Ana's story shows how some perfectly normal kids get ambushed into prostitution just because they're out on a perfectly normal adventure. Their story also underscores the importance of going after pimps and johns as the only way all girls can be safe from being snatched into prostitution.
13-year-old Gabriela lived with her mother, father, uncle, and some of the uncle's friends in a very small house. They were all recently arrived immigrants. The adults all worked very long hours to make ends meet. When they were all home in the evenings, the men dominated the home with loud TV and beer while Gabriela's mother labored over the huge amount of housework generated by all these men. There was never a quiet place where Gabriela could do her homework or talk with a friend. None of the men were touching Gabriela sexually, but they were constantly making lewd sexual comments to her.
Gabriela hated it. She started running away to one friend's house after another. It didn't take long for local pimps to spot her and lure her in, turn her away from school, then make her earn her stay by having sex with them. And then turn her out to others. Gabriela's mother fought hard to get the police to get her daughter back, and to arrest the men Gabriela was staying with. But again and again, the police would bring Gabriela home, but wouldn't do anything to enforce the many laws these men were violating. Finally, Gabriela's mother convinced her husband they should kick all the other men out of the house, in order to make a safe, comfortable home for their daughter. And then she got the help of advocates to push police to do their job and arrest the men who had been pimping her daughter.
- You can't guarantee your daughter will never fall prey to a pimp. But one of the best ways to protect her is to make sure her home and neighborhood are safe and free from abuse.
Maria was a 21-year-old Mexican mother of three children. Her youngest child urgently needed an operation to correct a life threatening birth defect. A young man in the small town where Maria lived heard of Maria's plight and told her he could get her a job in the United States. Maria left her children with her mother and went with the young man to the United States headed for what she thought would be an office job in a Doctor's office. Before they crossed the border, Maria was told that she'd have to have sex with the 'coyote', the man escorting them across the border. And then within two hours of arriving at the Doctor's office in California, Maria was told she would have to have sex with the Doctor and his friends or she would be sold to a prostitution ring in Tijuana.
Fortunately, despite being disoriented in a totally new land, Maria dared to communicate with a woman in the building using sign language. The woman helped Maria get to police. It took a while, but the doctor was arrested and finally sentenced to 28 years in prison. And Maria was reunited with her children.
- Maria's story illustrates a common tactic used by pimps targeting young women living in poverty, whether in poor or developed countries. The pimps promise the women or girls a job. If you have a teen who has been offered a job, you should always check and double check the conditions of the job and the people involved. You should also teach your children how to beware of the possibility of sex trafficking when offered a job, and how to do their own checks on the legitimacy of any job they're offered.
Janet is 19 years old but her story is similar to what happens to many underage girls. Janet was living in Sacramento. She had never been involved in prostitution. One day, Alicia, a neighborhood girlfriend suggested they go to a party in Santa Rosa with Alicia's friend named Jason. Janet didn't know Jason, but she trusted her friend Alicia and off they went. They arrived at the Llano Motel on Santa Rosa Avenue and it didn't look like much of a party at all. In fact, as soon as they arrived, Jason turned to Janet and told her he was a pimp and that she, Janet, was going to be his prostitute. Janet responded just as quickly telling Jason that, "no", she wasn't going to be a prostitute. Jason was ready with a threat. He told Janet that he knew where she and her family lived in Sacramento, and that he would kill her mother if she didn't submit. That quickly and unexpectedly, Janet had fallen victim to an experienced, well organized crime ring that had been operating out of that motel for years.
That night Janet was made to have sex with six different men. The next day she was somehow able to convince Jason that she was extremely ill. He took her to a local hospital where Janet told the doctor what had happened and begged him to call the police. Fortunately, the police took Janet very seriously, put a detective on the case, and had Jason arrested.
- Janet's story illustrates three things very common to the entrapment of teen girls. First, it's often a same aged friend, or as in this case, a friend of a friend, who gets a girl to trust going off in a car with the group. It can be a male or a female who is setting up the deception. Second, taking the girl to a city she doesn't know is a common next step to get her off balance in a place she can't navigate. And, third, the final lock on her fate is a threat to kill her family if she doesn't submit, or if she attempts to escape.
Another thing to learn from this example is how very fast a girl can be grabbed out of a very normal life and be trapped in prostitution.
16-year-old Ana was a single mother living in Costa Rica. Ana's own family was extremely poor and abusive, and the family of the baby's father was also abusive to Ana. Ana was desperate just to get milk for her baby when a friend told her she knew how Ana could make some money at a bar in the city by having sex with tourists from the United States. A business executive from the United States was one of Ana's first customers. He plied Ana with money and gifts, and then he offered to marry her and bring her to the United States.
Once in the United States, the violent rapes and beatings began immediately. It took Ana a number of years to escape, even though she had begun trying to escape right from the beginning. Ana called the police a number of times, but police never believed her story, or just as likely they didn't want to believe her story, and sided with the man. Police believed whatever her husband told them, including that she was the perpetrator of violence, and that she was crazy. It wasn't until Ana found an advocate that believed her that she was finally able to escape and get full custody of her children.
Marcia was an excellent student. She came from a great family, and had all kinds of job opportunities. Despite the fact that she had everything she ever needed or wanted, she liked the idea of having more. All the kids at school used to talk about how much easy-money a prostitute could make. It seemed like a good idea. All the boys said she was sexy. She liked fun and glamour, and she liked the idea of fast money. Marcia, herself, was the one who went out looking for men who could hook her up. It was only a matter of a week before Marcia got beaten badly by a john. Luckily, Marcia was able to get out.
- Marcia's story sheds light on one of the most persistent myths about prostitution, the myth that a girl chooses to become a prostitute. It's true Marcia set out to become a prostitute. But what Marcia thought prostitution was is a non-existent glamorized fiction that girls get from movies, media, and the 'pimp - ho' party culture exalted in kid's music and high school hallways. In short, it's a lie that serves to deceive girls' defenses. Prostitution is the ultimate, fraudulent bait-and-switch. Bait-and-switch is never free choice. These girls are not choosing to be beaten, raped, and degraded. They are not choosing the real prostitution.
To see one woman's story of what prostitution was like for her, see Angela's Story.
Go to Part 7 ~ If Your Daughter is Found Deceased
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