Why do women end up being sex trafficked?
Every one of the ladies that we work with through the Liora Project has a story; a past that will move you, shock you and anger you even. Some of them have been through unspeakable abuse and torture. Some have suffered for many years, some for only a few years.
Every story is unique but we have found that every story seems to fit into one of three narratives of how they ended up in sexual slavery.
Knowing how these women have ended up being sex trafficked can also help us identify those who are at risk of being trafficked.
This can then help us to look at ways to ensure that they also don’t end up being trapped in sexual slavery as well in the future.
So what are the reasons why these women end up trapped in sex trafficking?
1. They are sold
Yes you read that right, they were sold, like a commodity, to the pimps. They are abused, raped and tortured on a daily basis without any ability to say no or take control over their own bodies and own lives. Many of them were sold by husbands, who decided they no longer wanted their wives so decided to make some money by selling her to the pimps. The pimps can pay around $1000 for these women. We have found that it’s not just husbands though, but also neighbours, friends or even family members that are meant to be looking after them and protecting them.
Once sold, these women are then ‘owned’ by the pimps, which means these women can’t escape or do what they want. They are controlled by the pimps and will do what they are told to do by the pimps. They have a debt against them now because of the money that has been paid to ‘own’ them. Most of the money they earn in the red light area is given to the pimps who will say it’s to pay back their debt and living expenses.
2. They are tricked
This is probably the most common way that we find the women end up in sex trafficking. The overwhelming majority of these women are vulnerable in some way. They may be from the poorest communities and have very little education or few skills to enable them to find work. They may be single mothers whose husbands have died or abandoned them, leaving them without anyone to provide for them & their children. Again, they often have very little in the way of education & training so finding work is tricky.
Traffickers specifically target women who are vulnerable simply because they are easy prey. They are usually desperate to find a way of supporting their families so are often very naïve and trusting so don’t recognise that they are being tricked.
The traffickers will offer them jobs that simply don’t exist. Jobs such as cleaning houses. The women take these jobs, turn up at the address, or go with the traffickers to where they think they are going to work, only to then be taken away by the pimps and trapped in the red light area. If they have children, they also will be trapped along with their mothers.
3. Their circumstances offer no other alternatives
Poverty is one of the most overriding reasons why women end up working in the red light area. We don’t ever want to call it a choice, but often there is no other choice; it’s either do this or die from hunger.
Often these women are single and they have elderly parents who can no longer support the family as they are too old or frail to work. Alternatively, their parents get sick and can no longer work so it falls to their children to find work to support the parents and their siblings.
Many of these women have had little education or skills, so finding a job outside of the red light area is very hard. They can also face discrimination because of their caste, as some people don’t like to employ women from lower castes. Sometimes their friends will glamorise working in the red light area and make out that it is a way of making good money for your family to make sure they are looked after. But once the girls sell themselves in, they don’t realise they are trapped in there. Their families may be looked after but they themselves are trapped.
Being sex trafficked is a horrendous life. They have no or very little control over their bodies and lives. Many of the girls we have met will say that they just wanted to die in there, and had often contemplated suicide. We are so grateful that the ladies who we have met & those who work for us no longer have to live in these conditions but we want to help more women find freedom and have hope for theirs and their children’s future. We long for a world where the issue of sex trafficking doesn’t exist any more but until then we will do what we can to help those who are victims and survivors.
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