Contrary to what we were taught in school slavery was not abolished in the 1800’s, it continues today. The victims are drug addicts, runaways, LGBTQ, indigenous, foster kids—they are often the vulnerable marginalized members of our society and they are also the girl next door. They are from all socio-economic and racial backgrounds. No one is immune. It can happen to anyone. And, it happens every day.
The Pimp Playbook
We live in a world where the sale of human beings is a billion dollar industry. In the current climate, technology has changed, as it’s known on the streets ‘The Game’ and made it even easier for traffickers to operate under the radar. They utilize the online world to recruit their victims and from the security of their home johns can peruse ads, anonymously book their dates and set up a meeting location using smartphone texting features, texting applications, private or instant messaging apps, or Voice Over IP (VoIP).
Alongside social media the victims are hunted in shopping malls, coffee shops, movie theatres, libraries and at school. Yes, you read that correctly…at school. Not all victims are confined, there have been cases where young girls were picked up at school, pimped out and then dropped off at home. In Canada, the average age of a girl tricked into ‘The Game’ is 13 years old.
In 2015, the Toronto Star interviewed a pimp who was waiting to appear before the court on trafficking charges. Matthew Deiaco explained his rationale behind the demand, “Sex is a part of life…why should anyone be getting in trouble. Some people don’t want a relationship. They just want to get what they want and go home—with no strings attached—no relationship, no feelings, no fighting.”
And who are these ‘no strings attached’ customers? They’re men and sometimes women. They could be your neighbour. They’re doctors, lawyers, businessmen, police officers, labourers, drug dealers, college students, teachers, judges, accountants and soldiers.
Deiaco also sheds some light on how traffickers recruit their victims. Traffickers are master manipulators who prey upon girls, “who are broken, and you just move to answer their call.” Traffickers find the girl’s crack be it insecurity, loneliness, drugs and they bust it open until they have total control of the girl’s mind, body and soul. All is done under “the illusion of love and security. You tell them what they want to hear.”
The luring of a victim by these 'Romeo pimps' is a clearly defined strategy referred to as ‘grooming,’ in which the pimp gains their trust while isolating them from friends and family. The luring can happen quick--a victim can be hooked in 2-4 days. Targets are predominately female but males are also targeted. Please see below for a breakdown of its stages.
Basic Stages of Grooming
Adolescent Engagement ='s Prevention
Because traffickers primarily target adolescents it is crucial that parents and guardians are aware of their child’s social media activity and recognize potential flags. In December 2018, a national study* to gain a better understand about the attitudes and behaviours that put teen girls at greater risk for sex trafficking revealed, “talking to our daughters about sex trafficking can have a big impact on the decisions they make. 59% of girls said they have a friend who has done things online that were not safe. The more girls and their parents know about the risks, the better equipped they are to protect themselves,” said Julie Neubauer, Manager, Human Trafficking Services with Covenant House Toronto.
Neubauer added, “Survivors we’ve worked with have told us they would have been more likely to seek help sooner if they had felt comfortable sharing their experiences with their parents without fear of judgement or punishment.”
Police recommend that parents:
For your children...
How to tell if your friend is being “gamed:”
Signs a young person, may be in trouble include;
Doesn’t it make you mad? It makes me mad. The next time you drive along the 400 Highway series, look at all the hotels and motels that line the corridor and you may assume that at one time a victim of human trafficking occupied one of the rooms in all of them.
Let’s do something about this…
Activist, World traveller. Fan of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.