Awareness

#BeTheKey: Pimps and Traffickers

This information was gathered from our survey of 300 prostituted women through our social network outreach program.  Every couple days over the month of August, we are adding a new stat from our findings to help you better understand the women we are working with.  Read the whole series right here on the Free Our Girls blog.

We found that 62% of women publicly and openly confirmed, through photos and specific language, that they were currently working under the control of a pimp.  Of the women that did not confirm to currently being under the control of a pimp, a majority referenced at some point through their social media posts that they had had a pimp at one time or another during their time in the commercial sex industry.

What can this tell us about women involved in commercial sex work?  One national study claims that approximately 90% of prostituted women have a pimp.  Our small observational study on social media indicates that this is more than likely a fairly accurate estimate.  The women who confirmed having pimps have been completely indoctrinated into this subculture, and much of their posts and conversations comply with the “Rules of the Game” which include not interacting with pimps besides their own, and only socializing with the intention of recruiting more women to work for their pimp.  Those who shared photos of their pimps often include captions claiming their loyalty and devotion to this person.

Also interesting to note was the fact that four women are under the control of pimps who are currently in jail, two of them serving sentences longer than 2 years.  This further illustrates the emotional and psychological chains, trauma bonding, and brain washing that occurs during the grooming process.  And while 99% of the pimps pictured on these women’s pages were black males, there was 1 white male, and 1 Hispanic female that fill the role as pimp to some of these young women.

Lastly, it is important to remember that once again, this was a purely observational study, meaning that many more women in our sample group could possibly be currently under the control of a pimp but chose not to share this information publicly.  Two possible reasons why women chose not to picture their exploiter include the fact that they understand the legal repercussions of implicating them in this way, and for those women who use their social media accounts to advertise their services, indicating to potential clients that they work for a pimp can drive business away.

Daddy 2_marked

Once a young woman has been recruited and groomed, she will eventually become completed indoctrinated into the subculture of violence and exploitation. Oftentimes, the attention and care they receive from their traffickers is the safest and most stable situation they have ever known, making it hard for them to see a better world beyond their current reality.

Once a young woman has been recruited and groomed, she will eventually become completed indoctrinated into the subculture of violence and exploitation. Oftentimes, the attention and care they receive from their traffickers is the safest and most stable situation they have ever known, making it hard for them to see a better world beyond their current reality.

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Awareness

#BeTheKey: Being a Mother

This information was gathered from our survey of 300 prostituted women through our social network outreach program.  Every couple days over the month of August, we are adding a new stat from our findings to help you better understand the women we are working with.  Read the whole series right here on the Free Our Girls blog.

At least 40% of the women that Free Our Girls networks with have children.  With 64% of those having just one child, 20% having two children, and 9 women are currently pregnant, these women are not only responsible for themselves, but a family as well.

What can this tell us about women involved in commercial sex work?  That motherhood makes women incredibly vulnerable, both emotionally and financially, to being exploited due to their need to provide for their children, and the hope of giving them a better life than they would otherwise have been able to offer.  Some of these women had children prior to entering the sex industry, and some have since had children with their trafficker, as this is often one method a trafficker uses to keep his victim under his control.  For this population of women, leaving sex work can be even more difficult as they do not just have themselves to support.  If a woman has had a child with her trafficker, her emotional connection with the father of her child only increases the number of obstacles she must overcome to truly be freed.

Additionally, it is important to note that not all women chose to share the fact that they have children on their social media profiles.  They may do this for a number of reasons, but two of the most common reasons are (1) not wanting to share this personal and intimate part of their world with unknown viewers, and (2) not having custody of their children and therefore limited interactions with them.  For these reasons, it is believed that the actual percentage of women in the sex industry with children is even larger than what was observed in our study.

Having children increases the emotional and financial vulnerability of thousands of young women currently engaged in sex work. This lifestyle affects not only the women, but their children as well.

Having children increases the emotional and financial vulnerability of thousands of young women currently engaged in sex work. This lifestyle affects not only the women, but their children as well.

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Awareness

#BeTheKey: Location of Exploitation

This information was gathered from our survey of 300 prostituted women through our social network outreach program.  Every couple days over the month of August, we are adding a new stat from our findings to help you better understand the women we are working with.  Read the whole series right here on the Free Our Girls blog.

With Free Our Girls being a US-based non-profit, our contact with women currently in commercial sex work focuses on those women here in the US.  Our observational study revealed that our women live in at least 21 states, with concentrations in California, Nevada, Texas, and Florida.

What does this tell us about women currently being exploited here in the US?  It shows that sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation occurs nationwide, and has the potential to impact every community.

Only about half of the women studied confirmed their current state of residence.  This was for two reasons.  First of all, many women lead a life of secrecy, and maintaining a certain level of anonymity in public forums such as social media sites is necessary for their general safety.  Secondly, many of these women do not have a permanent place to call home – they live hotel-to-hotel and are moved around the country constantly.

Another interesting face observed regarding these women’s locations is that many grew up in small towns in the Midwest before being being lured into the grasp of their trafficker.  Understanding that young women growing up in rural areas protected from “big city problems” are just as at risk as those coming from developed, urban areas is vital to protecting our girls.

Many young women live in the same hotel rooms that they work out of.

Many young women live in the same hotel rooms that they work out of.

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Awareness

#BeTheKey: The Age of Exploitation

This information was gathered from our survey of 300 prostituted women through our social network outreach program.  Every couple days over the month of August, we are adding a new stat from our findings to help you better understand the women we are working with.  Read the whole series right here on the Free Our Girls blog.

Of the women observed in Free Our Girls’ social media study, 71% were between the ages of 18 and 29.  Approximately 28% were in their 30’s.  And only 1 woman was in her 40’s.

What does this tell us about the women currently facing exploitation?  First of all, Free Our Girls does NOT include any person who appear to be under the age of 18 in their social media outreach.  Any person who appears to be, or confirms through their posts, to be under the age of 18 and involved in commercial sex work is immediately reported to law enforcement.  For this reason, any social media accounts that appear to be/are under the age of 18 were not included in our study.  To date, over the last three years, two such accounts have been identified and reported.

Understanding the age demographics of this group of women is important because we see when our women are most commonly involved in commercial sex work, and therefore most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by traffickers.  Not only are young women in higher demand from paying clientele, but they are also more often to be naive, emotionally vulnerable and financially unstable as they strike out into the world on their own.

As women involved in the adult industry enter their 30’s, and even 40’s, they start looking to get away from this lifestyle, however they often find their legitimate work options severely lacking for reasons including: lack of work history and formal education (and the low wages that come with jobs they then quality for), addiction, housing instability, need for childcare, and reliable transportation.  In addition to these physical needs in order to be able to leave the sex industry, many women also face reintegration difficulties due to years of unpredictable environments, complex trauma and emotional damage, and having to cope in a world they have been socialized to stay detached from.

Many women desperately want to leave commercial sex work, however their desire to leave does not always necessarily line up with the ability to maintain the stability in their life to make a successful exit.

Most social media and adult entertainment sites have age warnings and restrictions, aimed at preventing minors from accessing adult content. However, posts like this one tell a much different story.

Most social media and adult entertainment sites have age warnings and restrictions, aimed at preventing minors from accessing adult content. However, posts like this one tell a much different story.

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Awareness

August: #BeTheKey Campaign

This information was gathered from our survey of 300 prostituted women through our social network outreach program.  Every couple days over the month of August, we are adding a new stat from our findings to help you better understand the women we are working with.  Read the whole series right here on the Free Our Girls blog.

The adult entertainment industry is often the first to integrate new technologies and communication methods.  This, coupled with the knowledge that a majority of commercial sexual transactions are advertised and and arranged for online, and a growing percentage of trafficking victims are first approached by their trafficker online, it is imperative that we understand the importance of having advocates for victims and resources for survivors online as well.

As one of the many programs Free Our Girls has been developing, over the last three years we have been building and maintaining relationships with over 300 women currently working in the sex industry using social media platforms to engage them.  In July of this year, Free Our Girls carried out a study of these women to gain a deeper understanding of the population as a whole, with the desire to further focus our interactions and outreach with these women.  As this was a purely observational study, the data gathered was based exclusively on the information these women choose to share on their social media profile, including their posts, captions and conversations.

Over the month of August, Free Our Girls will be sharing the findings of our study with you to help further understand the demographics of those currently facing commercial sexual exploitation, so that we can better engage the women we aim to serve.  Follow our #BeTheKey campaign here on our blog, as well as our Facebook page, as we provide powerful information that can help you become an educated and compassionate advocate.

#BeTheKey

#BeTheKey

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Uncategorized

Glorification and Acceptance of “The Life”

Pop culture has exposed us to so much of the pimp culture that we are now completely desensitized to its destructive powers.  The music, movies, social media trends, fashion and our language have slowly adapted to accepting a glorified version of what pimps and sex workers’ roles are that we think nothing of our children listening to their lyrics at school dances, or dressing the way their favorite artists do.  Little do we know that with these small gestures, we are condoning the continued exploitation of our women and children.

Chris Brown Caught with a Prostitute?

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Uncategorized

Reducing Demand

From the legal perspective, reducing the demand for sex workers translates into a reduction in the number of women and children supplied by traffickers.  Harsher consequences for those soliciting the services of these women, and for those supplying them, will absolutely have an impact, as those who may have previously considered taking part will be deterred as the level of risk rises to an uncomfortable level.  Reducing demand from this end can be done through a variety of ways – everything from posting mugshots on billboards of those convicted of soliciting a prostitute, to capital punishment for those convicted of exploiting a child.

We will continue, as a society, to see the exploitation and demand for sex workers as long as mis-education and the breakdown of the family unit exists.  Truly ending commercial sexual exploitation requires addressing the root causes that contribute to creating a vulnerable women or child, addressing domestic violence and poverty that lead to an over-exposure of violence and desperation, and addressing the messages that we send our youth about the value of their bodies, and the definition of success.  In addition to this, we need to address the mis-education and stereotypes that have saturated our society when it comes to sex workers and the truth behind what is referred to as “the Life.”

Utah Law Maker Wants Death Penalty for Sex Traffickers

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