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Trafficked Report
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  • Day 2 – Pimps exploit victims’ need to be loved

    By Katherine Lymn

    Forum News Service

    Pimps like to believe they are businessmen, shrewd opportunists with "product" and customers, manageable expenses and great potential profits.

    Through their own networks, pimps are hearing about North Dakota and the profits to be made, and they are bringing or sending their “stables” of girls and women to prostitute in the Oil Patch.

    They know that while you can only sell drugs or guns once, you can sell a girl over and over.

    Experts describe pimps as cunning, manipulative and smooth. It’s how they lure girls into the life of prostitution, and it’s how they play the game.

    Researchers say pimps often come out of some of the same circumstances that propel some women into prostitution -- poverty, broken and abusive upbringings, a history of running away from home. Pimps were schooled on violence. They watched prostitution happen in their neighborhoods, in their homes. And they can use those twisted insights, along with ethnic and neighborhood ties, to recruit women.

    Ironically, by controlling one or more women, they may feel they’ve taken control of their own lives for the first time.

    “When I got these ladies who let me control and run their lives and gave me their money, and would do whatever I said, I had all the cards in my hand,” a Chicago pimp told researchers in a 2010 study out of DePaul University. “Every man wishes they were me. For the first time in my life, I was No. 1.”

    Of the 25 pimps interviewed for that study, a majority said they suffered physical and sexual abuse as children in homes where domestic violence involving adults also was present. Many of the pimps started trafficking as a survival strategy, or to give them a sense of control and respect they lacked in unsafe households as children, they told researchers.

    Sandi Pierce, a researcher who studies trafficking of minorities, especially American Indian girls, said pimps often learned of prostitution through their upbringing.

    “Their mothers were in prostitution. Or they had a male pimp or female pimp relative, and they learned from watching,” she said. “They’re products of the same environment.”

    So in the life of prostitution, the men and women often fall into gender roles, she said, with the men dominant and in charge and the women submissive and victimized.

    Pierce co-authored a 2014 study, “Mapping the Market,” about sex trafficking of minors in Minneapolis. Through interviews and law enforcement data analysis, the study found “facilitators” of trafficking and victims both came from high-poverty neighborhoods.