This letter was sent to me by the Polaris Project, which functions to end present day slavery — the sexual enslavement of young girls. Apparently, pimps are now branding the girls they traffic with tattoos as if they are animals. Please remember that these girls are minors and that they are physically abused, raped, and threatened, and therefore too afraid to run away or seek help. Please sign this petition and share it with you friends. With enough signtures, Tattoo parlors will become aware that some of the girls they are tattooing are not not there of their own free will; they are being branded because they are victims of sexual slavery.
Also, start a conversation with your teen girls about boys and men, and what signs to look out for. Teach them to protect themselves. Sign them up for Tae Kwon Do or self-defense classes, and arm them with self-preservation. A great number of these girls are fooled into thinking that these guys are their boyfriends, and after they are victimized, they are too afraid or too ashamed to return home. These men are very clever — and our girls need to be prepared. Ignorance in these situations and these types of men does not help them.
From the Polaris Project:
A pimp often brands the women and girls he traffics with tattoos – often his name, her nickname, or some other symbol. These tattoos serve as a permanent reminder that a pimp controls the woman’s or girl’s body.
A recent case out of Texas involved Clint Wilson, nicknamed ‘Greedy,’ who forced a 16-year-old girl, ‘B.J.,’ to engage in commercial sex. The pimp, Clint Wilson, convinced her that he was her boyfriend. Two weeks after she started working for him, he forced her to get a tattoo that referenced ‘Greedy,’ showing that he owned her.
Tattoo artists may be unknowingly carrying out this type of work on trafficking victims at any time. Without training to recognize the signs of trafficking, these artists may not realize that the young girl in front of them is actually a victim of human trafficking, or that the man who brought her in to the tattoo parlor who claimed to be her guardian and authorized her to get the tattoo, is actually her pimp.
You can help ensure that human trafficking cases like this are discovered by asking the National Tattoo Association to incorporate training on the link between sex trafficking and tattoos in their 2012 National Conference.
Sign this Change.org petition to add your voice to the chorus calling for the use of tattoos as symbols of oppression to end.
Andrea Austin and Johanna Olivas
Public Outreach and Communications Team
- What About American Girls Sold on the Streets? (nytimes.com)
- Penalties should act as deterrent for sex traffickers: Victims (fourbluehills.com)