Human trafficking has been called the second or third most profitable illegal business in the world. Behind these claims, and the billions of dollars poured into policy since the 1990s, is an economics of trafficking that rests heavily on two assumptions. The first is that nonconsensual labor is more profitable than consensual labor, with minors being particularly profitable because they are ubiquitous and cannot truly consent. The second is that human trafficking, unlike the illicit drug and arms trades, is a unique, renewable, and virtually unlimited source of profit.
According to the Collins dictionary, a pimp is someone who provides clients for prostitutes and takes a large portion of the money that the prostitutes earn.
Pimps typically use a variety of psychological manipulation methods to persuade recruits to engage in sex work, such as throwing money around, seducing them, engaging in romantic relationships, convincing them that they can make money even if they are already having sex, or getting other female employees to convince them as well.
Is Pimping Illegal?
Unlike prostitution and pimping, which are classified as misdemeanors in most states, pimping and pandering are usually classified as felonies. Penalties increase to three, six, or eight years in prison if the offender is accused of pimping or pandering a minor.
Stages of Human Trafficking: How it Happens
There are many different ways that a girl or young woman can be forced into trafficking. One way is that traffickers and pimps lure women by first posing as the perfect “boyfriend” and eventually drawing them into the trade. In these cases, traffickers and pimps will say and do anything until the girls and young women who believe they are in love become dependent on their trafficker or pimp and feel they owe them.
Now that online dating is a common way to meet and bed girls and young women, traffickers and pimps can use these opportunities to get to know them more easily.
The following describes the four stages traffickers and pimps use to achieve this:
At this stage, the trafficker or pimp seeks out girls and young women who are vulnerable, plays on their weaknesses, and gets them to divulge personal information. For example, a trafficker or pimp becomes:
- Makes the girl or young woman feel good by complimenting her on her appearance and body
- He convinces her that she is unique and special to him, unlike other girls he has met or seen.
At this stage, the trafficker or pimp has one big goal in mind: to gain her trust. He slowly tests out how far he can push or convince his target girl or woman in different situations.
During this time, the trafficker or pimp also gathers information about:
- Her personal life, who she lives with, her family or friends
- Her main caregivers and who she trusts
- The people she is close to or cares about the most
The trafficker or pimp will later use this information against her to get her to do what he wants.
Honeymoon Stage: Gaming and Grooming
In the honeymoon phase, the trafficker or pimp will do anything to make the girl or young woman fall in love with him.
When we feel emotionally attached to someone, we tend to take care of them and do things for them that we would not do for another person. The trafficker or pimp wants the girl or young woman he approaches to fall in love with him in order to get her to do what he wants.
Some things he might do at this stage are:
- Buying the girl or young woman expensive gifts.
- Taking his target to nice restaurants and beautiful places
- Be especially romantic
- Have very passionate sex with her
- Making promises he has no intention of keeping (e.g., a happy life together, starting a family)
Once he sees that she has fallen in love with him, he moves on to the next phase.
Coercion and Manipulation
At this stage of the game, the trafficker or pimp starts sending mixed messages to his target. He plays with her feelings and confuses her about whether he loves her or not in order to make her nervous and attract his attention. He will:
- Communicate less with her
- Behave unpredictably
- “Reward” her with affection only when she does what he wants
In this stage, the trafficker or pimp forces his target to do things that make her uncomfortable in bed or during sex in order to “drug” her for these actions. When she does what he wants her to do (e.g., have sex, perform a sexual act he wants her to do, etc.), he treats her with gifts or affection so that she begins to associate sex with payment (gifts, affection, love) or money.
The trafficker or pimp uses the information he has gathered to exploit the girl or young woman (e.g., “If you try to do … I will …”). He will also convince her that the “good old days” (the honeymoon) will return if she does what he wants, which of course is a lie.
With these mind games, the trafficker or pimp tries to make the girl or young woman believe that she did something wrong that caused him to withdraw his love and care from her, and that she owes him to get it back. In this way, the girl or young woman will do anything to endear herself to him again – a preparation for the next step.
In this final stage, the trafficker or pimp has completely destroyed the girl or young woman’s self-esteem and made her feel completely rotten. He will manipulate her emotionally, psychologically and/or physically and force her into sex work. Using the information, he has previously gathered from her, he will also threaten to expose her to her family or friends if she tries to leave him.
The trafficker or pimp convinces the girl or young woman that she must do sex work to make a living and isolates her from family and friends to ensure that she has no one to turn to.
Traffickers or pimps take a very targeted and calculated approach to selling girls and young women. In some cases, they also use other girls and young women who are under their power to gain the trust of new girls and young women whom they traffick.
Knowledge is power – and awareness about human trafficking can go a long way toward ending it. It’s important for all girls and young women to know these things, no matter who we are or where we are in our lives. If you have been trafficked or survived such an experience, it is not too late. There are girls and young women who have escaped trafficking with help.
Do you have visible green veins or know someone who has them? Find out what makes them visible on the skin here.