“Sex trafficking occurs when people are forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade against their will. Child sex trafficking includes any child involved in commercial sex. Sex traffickers frequently target vulnerable people with histories of abuse, and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry. Sex trafficking exists within the broader commercial sex trade, often at much larger rates than most people realize or understand. Sex trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues of the overall sex industry, including residential brothels, hostess clubs, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution.” POLARIS PROJECT
The Upstate of South Carolina has 16 fake massage parlors. A fake massage parlor is an entity which appears to be a legitimate massage parlor; however, they exist to sell sex. The majority of them are connected to organized crime involving sex trafficking. A “madam” is typically an older woman who started out as a victim of sex trafficking. In her older age, she has been placed into a position of supervising the younger women who are being sold for sex. They are all under the control of a trafficker.
The Upstate of South Carolina has 11 strip clubs. Trafficking occurs in a couple of ways within strip clubs. One way is that a dancer works underneath the control of a trafficker, also known as a pimp, who will drop her off at the door with a quota of money to make during her shift. At the end of her shift, she has to give him all the money she earns. Another way trafficking occurs is when a dancer is working out of her own free will and is approached by a trafficker without realizing it. She is then lured away under false pretenses and forced to work in the commercial sex industry while being controlled by the trafficker.
The Upstate of South Carolina has at least 600 working girls on any given weekend. Trafficking occurs in street prostitution. Many times, these “working girls” underneath the control of a trafficker, also known as a pimp, who will put her on the streets with a quota of money to make during her shift. At the end of her shift, she has to give him all the money she earns.
*Due to the nature of this industry, these numbers change often.
“The Upstate has numerous areas of street prostitution as well as truck stops. In street prostitution women may or may not be working underneath the control of a trafficker also known as a pimp. At truck stops, traffickers sell girls for sex to truckers. 90% of women involved in prostitution are trafficked.” Shared Hope International
Regardless if a women is being controlled by a trafficker or not, she is worthy of love and respect. We aim to reach women in the sex industry to not only identify those who are being trafficked in order to refer them to law enforcement if and when they are ready to self-identify, but also to help those who are stuck in the industry so that they are able to leave if they choose to. The vast majority of women in the sex industry at some point in their lives were abused physically and/or sexually, were under the control of a trafficker, and/or are currently underneath the control of a trafficker. This is why Switch does outreaches to women in the sex industry with the hopes they will decide to leave.
“The misconception is not solely about these victims being on drugs in order to obey, but often society blames the addiction on her reasoning to turn toward prostitution. A “prostitute” is assumed to be involved in that “line of work” because of her drug habit. She is assumed to have chosen her “profession” because she makes good money or likes sex. Both are completely false. While the sell of sex may be lucrative, a trafficked victim rarely keeps money, if any at all. The role of sex addiction can come into play also after the person has been trafficked. What we see is these dependencies and addictions developing because of the trauma experienced during trafficking, not the reason she was susceptible in the first place.” Rebecca Bender Ministries