There is a new disgusting trend that further dehumanizes victims of human trafficking/slavery. Pimps and perpetrators are now branding their victims. One way they are claiming ownership is with tattoos.
Sara Sidner with CNN interviewed a 17-year-old girl named “Adriana” who candidly talks about the life she managed to get away from alive. Adriana shows Sidner the tattoo she received. She said she got it when she was 14. Vice Sgt. Ron Fisher of the Los Angeles Police Department in Van Nuys stated that is how other pimps know whose property belongs to who. Branding shows up all over the girls' bodies. Some tattoos include:
- Pimps’ initials on a girl’s face
Fuck You, Pay Me on a girls neck
ATM on a girls crotch
- A barcode on a girls wrist
Lois Lee is a child advocate who runs an organization called Children of the Night that houses where victims can get help with education and with turning their lives around. She says girls don’t see branding as slavery at first. In some ways it gives them a sense of being wanted and a form of loyalty.
"I was proud to have it," Adriana said. "It says I'm for you. I will never leave you. If I mark up my body for you, risk my life for you. I'll do anything for you."
After running away at 13 and being coaxed into the life by her fist pimp, Adriana says she soon found out it was not the exciting, lucrative, and fun lifestyle she was led to believe it was. After being knifed in the stomach, raped, robbed, and having guns put to her head, she learned to get used to it and in order to cope, she learned to disassociate into different personalities. Here is some of the lingo she learned in the “life within a life.”
- Being "chopped" means a beating if you don’t bring in enough money.
- A "wifey" is another girl controlled by the same pimp.
- "Ho-partners" are controlled by other pimps.
CNN spoke with other trafficked girls who said pimps are now asking their captives to do more than just sell their bodies. Some of their new duties include carjacking, holding their weaponry/guns, robbing men who come to buy sex, and holding drugs. See the money and the longevity of the “product being sold” many drug runners have take over prostitution rings.
Adriana managed to get out before she was killed. At 17, she’s now studying for her high school diploma and beginning to turn her life around. She feels she has a better chance than others victims of human trafficking because she did not get hooked on drugs. Se wants the public to know:
"If you stay in the life, that's it for you. Either you are going to commit suicide. You're gonna be strung out on drugs or you are gonna be dead. Someone is going to kill you."
Here is short CNN video about human trafficking and branding.
"You have no idea how I am breaking inside," she said. "Every time I pull a piece off, I put a piece back together and another piece of me falls off."
To read Sara Sidner’s full article, visit CNN.
There are things the public can do in addition to recognizing signs of human trafficking:
Sign HERE: Tell U.S. law enforcement to crack down on $150 billion human trafficking epidemic
To learn more, here are four more related Daily Kos articles: