And, no, that is not a term of respect and endearment. It is disgust.
You work your girls and boys, men and women, on the streets of Chicago. You’ve made a steadily-increasing income for years: most of your “stable” (a group of people under the control of a single pimp) makes their nightly quota, and you are in the process of recruiting and grooming newcomers for your “family” of modern-day slaves. Business is good- johns (term of anonymity used by people who buy sexual acts for money) are consistent, and you’ve got your network of fellow pimps to warn you which sections of the city are hot and which are being monitored more closely than usual.
However, there’s a problem- something is happening in Chicago.
You’ve always known the one thing that could bring your business crashing down- you’ve always had a nightmare, and something new is making you look over your shoulder. Even on these streets you’ve owned for so long, there’s a palpable shift in the air that has nothing to do with spring in Chicago…
You see, for years, your slaves have worked Chicago’s streets without notice by anyone- anyone. Before, your slaves were arrested, but were jailed or bailed without a second glance in your direction. Before, they were just “prostitutes”- regardless of their age, addictions, or blatant bruises. Before, if you or a john got particularly violent, you’d simply take the injured to a local clinic to get stitched up, get treatment for the burn wounds…no questions asked. Before, even if a slave ran away- if you forgot to give affection after beatings, if you hadn’t threatened to kill family members in a while, or if you didn’t distribute the drugs necessary to satisfy the addiction you induced- so what? Before, there was no where to run, no one who would understand, no one who would believe their stories or know how to help…
But now, slowly, gradually, Chicago is changing. Now, police are asking your slaves questions- questions about you and about the johns who use your slaves. Now, your slaves aren’t just jailed or bailed- they are receiving treatment and are encouraged to testify against you. Now, there are people on the streets whose job is to look for your slaves and offer them a way out of “The Life.” Now, nurses and doctors aren’t just giving out crutches and the occasional referral to a domestic violence shelter- now they are digging deep, asking questions about freedom of movement while identifying wounds specific to human trafficking. Now, lawyers and judges aren’t seeing your workers as prostitutes; they’re seeing exploited males and females who require specific and defined protection under law. Now, there are places in Chicago- homes, centers, drop-in agencies- that exist to locate, protect, and shelter your slaves. Suddenly, where everyday Chicagoans used to walk past your slaves without a second glance, “victims” are identified and hotlines are called….
And, worst of all? These outreach workers, these survivors, these attorneys, these police, these doctors, these common people…..
They are talking to each other.
Join the conversation. Help make the worst nightmare of Chicago’s traffickers a reality on Tuesday May 24th from 7pm-9pm at The Painted Door, 1505 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642. You will be equipped with next steps YOU can take to combat human trafficking as a modern-day abolitionist, and hear the ways abolitionists in Chicago’s workforce are using their profession to combat human slavery.