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Trafficking Lingo

Terms commonly used in the human trafficking industry:

  • Trafficker/Pimp: Anyone who receives money or something of value for the sexual exploitation of another person.Facilitator: Any business or person allowing a trafficker/pimp to carry out exploitation. These facilitators taxi drivers, hotel owners, newspapers where girls are advertised work in direct and indirect partnership with pimps and enable the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

    Buyer : Anyone who pays for or trades something of value for sex. This can be a family member, teacher, baseball coach, and member of the clergy anyone, male or female.

    Survival Sex: A situation involving a homeless youth who trades a sex act with an adult in exchange for basic needs such as shelter, food, etc. Knowing that homeless youth are unable to work legally and provide for themselves, sexual predators commonly target them, taking advantage of their vulnerability. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines a “victim” of sex trafficking as any child under the age of 18 and involved in a commercial sex act where money or something of value is given to or received by any person. Accordingly, “survival sex” actually qualifies as domestic minor sex trafficking.

    Quota: A set amount of money that a trafficked girl must make each night before she cam come “home.” Quotas are often set between $300 and $2,000. If the child returns without meeting the quota, she is typically beaten or sent back out.

    Automatic: The victim’s routine when her pimp is out of town, in jail, or otherwise not in direct contact with those he is prostituting. Victims are expected to be “on automatic,” and they generally comply either out of fear of punishment of because they have been psychologically manipulated into a sense of loyalty or love. All money generated “on automatic” is turned over to the pimp when he returns.

    Bottom Bitch: One girl, among several controlled by a single pimp, appointed by him to supervise the others, report rule violations, and sometimes even help inflict punishment on them.

    Brothel, Bordello, Cathouse, Whorehouse: A large apartment or a house where sex is sold; in some cases, a facility specifically designed for selling sex on the premises. Such a site often features extreme security measures intended to prevent attacks by other criminals seeking the large amount of cash and drugs kept there and to keep the women and children in. The facilities often are guarded (and open) 24 hours a day, but some have closing times in which they victims are locked in from the outside.

    Caught a Case: A pimp or prostituted person has been arrested and charged with a crime.

    Choosing Up: The process by which a different pimp takes “ownership” of a victim. Choosing up actually occurs simply by making eye contact with another pimp (which is why eye contact with other pimps is strictly prohibited). If the original pimp wants the victim back, he must pay a fee to the new pimp. It’s the victim, however, who is then required to “work” to pay restitution to her original pimp. And usually the debt is increased as a penalty for the disrespect of the original pimp that “choosing up” represents.

    Circuit (or Track): A set area known for prostitution activity. This can be a local term: the area around a group of strip clubs and pornography stores, or a particular stretch of street. Or it can be a series of cities among which prostituted people are moved one example would be the West Coast circuit of San Diego, Las Vegas, Vancouver (British Columbia), and the cities between. The term can also refer to a chain of states, such as the “Minnesota pipeline” by which victims are moved through a series of locations from Minnesota to markets in New York.

    Daddy: What pimps require their victims to call them. (See Family or Folk.)

    Date : The exchange when prostitution takes place, or the activity of prostitution. A victim is said to be “with a date” or “dating.”

    Escort Service: An organization, operating chiefly via cell phone and increasingly the Internet, which sends a victim to a buyer’s location (an “outcall”) or arranges for the buyer to come to a house or apartment (an “in-call”); this may be the workplace of a single woman or actually a small brothel. Some escort services are networked with others and can assemble large numbers of women for parties and conventions. Some serve those with fetishes, such as sex with children or sadomasochism.

    Exit Free: Money a pimp demands from a victim who is thinking about leaving. This is routinely an exorbitant sum intended to discourage her departure. (Victims usually don’t have money, other than what the pimp gives to them to supply their needs.) Most pimps never let their victims leave freely.

    Family or Folk: A group of people under the control of one pimp; he plays the role of father or “Daddy.” This idea can be extremely complicated psychologically for a victim who has never had a supportive family.

    Finesse Pimp: One who prides himself in controlling others primarily through psychological manipulation. Even in such cases, however, the threat of violence is always present.

    The Game: The subculture of prostitution. “The game” functions as a fully formed subculture, complete with established rules, hierarchy, and language. People who do not actively participate in “the game” are viewed as not understanding how it works nor understanding the people involved in it.

    Gorilla (or Guerilla) Pimp: One who controls his victims almost entirely through violence.

    Ho Line: A loose network of inter-city or interstate communications between pimps, chiefly by phone, used to trade, buy, and sell prostituted women and children. A ho line uses frequently changing slang and code words to confound law enforcement.

    John or Buyer: A person paying another for sexual gratification, control, and/or domination. The term “john” comes from the alias often used by customers in order to remain anonymous. The john drives the entire system. Without buyer, there would not be a seller and there would not be a victim. The demand for commercial sexual services fuels the problem of domestic minor sex trafficking. Victims of domestic minor sex trafficking are forced to sell their bodies to meet this demand.

    Kiddie Stroll (or Runway): An area featuring prostituted children under 16, often much younger.

    The Life: The experience of being used as a victim in prostitution.

    Lot Lizard: A derogatory term for a person who is prostituted at truck stops.

    Madam: An older woman who manages a brothel. The madam has usually been prostituted in her earlier years; she may be a pimp herself, perhaps a career criminal.

    Reckless Eyeballing: Same as Choosing Up.

    Renegade : A prostituted person not under the control of pimp. Renegades are usually vulnerable to threats, harassment, and violence intended to make them “choose” a pimp. The term also sometimes refers to a victim who violates a pimp’s rules.

    Seasoning: A combination of psychological manipulation; intimidation; gang rape; sodomy; beating; deprivation of food or sleep; isolation from family, friends, and other sources of support; and threatening of holding hostage of a victim’s children. Seasoning is designed to totally break down a victim’s resistance and ensure that she will do anything she is told.

    Stabl: A group of victims under the control of a single pimp. (The choice of a farming word is worse than ironic, in that pimps indeed treat their victims like animals.)

    Trade Up, Trade Down, Buy and Sell: To move a victim like merchandise. Pimps are quick to get rid of victims who cause problems, or who no longer match the profile sought by the clientele that the pimp serves. A pimp may trade straight across, or trade with some exchange of money, or trade one victim in return for two or more other victims. The sale price for a victim is usually $2,500 to $3,500. The victims can be moved long distances rapidly with a guard, overnight, and/or by air.

    Trick: The act of prostitution; also the person buying it. A victim is said to be “turning a trick” or “with a trick.

    Turn out: To be forced into prostitution; also a person newly involved in prostitution.

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