I am posting this seed, because of another conversation in Vineland. I have been told that feminists are male bashers, who spread propaganda and that males are discriminated just as much. That it should be equal, though the World is not equal when it comes to males and females. I agree in equality.
But, without feminists movements, we would not be where we are today. And, I believe that we have much further to go. Empowering the next generation of girls, that they are so much more, than looks, sexuality.
When Adriana walks into a room, people take notice. Her neon pink dress and pearls could not even come close to her electric persona.
"Before we begin. I want to know -- what do you want from me?" Adriana asked before our interview.
We explained we wanted to hear her story if she wanted to share it.
Minutes later, Adriana giggled so disarmingly that she seemed to turn into a different person. It turns out she may have been trying to do just that.
After an hour of talking, she explained that she often had to pretend to be someone else in order to live the life she'd been living.
A clear sign of that life is tattooed in big bold letters across her chest.
"This right here," she said pointing to her tattoo. "I call it my war wound. I got it when I was 14 years old, and he was one of my pimps," she said.
Adriana's trafficker had persuaded her to have his name tattooed across her chest.
"It lets other pimps know that this is their property," said Vice Sgt. Ron Fisher of the Los Angeles Police Department in Van Nuys. Fisher has seen untold numbers of them as his unit works the streets and the Internet, trying to find underage girls being trafficked.
Police and anti-trafficking advocates are seeing those brands on girls more and more in recent years.
An old-fashioned looking moneybag tattooed on the arm. "F--- You, Pay Me" tattooed on a girl's neck. Large initials tattooed on a girl's face. The initials "ATM" tattooed near a girl's crotch. A trafficker's name tattooed across a girl's thighs. A bar code tattooed across a girl's wrist, like an item in a grocery store. The practice is not new. It used to be done by slave owners using brands on slaves to show ownership. Now it's back in a different form, but for the same horrible purpose.
Child advocate Lois Lee explained the girls don't see it that way, at least not at first. Lee should know; for 30 years she has been running an organization called Children of the Night that houses, educates, and tries to give girls a chance at a different life.
"They see it differently. They belong to somebody. It's important to them. Someone has claimed me. Now I belong to a group." Lee said that is how the girls often feel about the brands when they first come in her door.
Adriana was no exception.
"I was proud to have it," Adriana said. "It says I'm for you. I will never leave you. If I mark up my body for you, risk my life for you. I'll do anything for you."
Adriana said she's been through it all. "Whether it's a gun to your head, a knife to your belly, whether it's you being raped or robbed or whatever it is. ... Eventually you get used to it."
Used to being up 24 hours. Used to talking people out of hurting you. Used to a new "family" and new "bosses." Adriana, who is now 17, said she has had four pimps.
Her "new life" started at 13. Adriana said she was rebelling and decided to run away from home, where her father was raising her. Her mother wasn't part of the equation, and Adriana decided she'd go out on her own. She said she may have been young, but she was no fool, and at the very least she knew she needed money.
One night, she said, she went to a party just down the street from her house. That's where home life turned into street life.
She met a guy who said all the right things, promising her big money, fancy cars and a lavish lifestyle. Then, she said, he introduced her to some girls who were decked out in nice clothes, their hair and nails done. Their lives seemed golden.
"I thought they were awesome. I thought they were beautiful. I loved their bright clothes. I loved everything about it," she said.
And with that, 13-year-old Adriana says she bought into the "dream" that was being sold to her: Sell sex; get amazing rewards. It's all fun and games.
She was hooked.
It didn't take long for her to learn the lingo: being "chopped" meant a beating -- something the trafficker would do if you didn't bring in enough money. A "wifey" is another girl controlled by the same pimp. "Ho-partners" are controlled by other pimps.
"It's a life within a life," Adriana said.
Other trafficked girls we spoke with who did not want to be named said the pimps are asking girls to do all manner of things nowadays: Carjacking. Holding their traffickers' guns. Robbing the men who come to buy sex. Holding drugs. You name it. The game has changed. Lee said she believes that is partly due to an unintended consequence of sex-trafficking laws that increased penalties on sex-traffickers. Traffickers can get 20 plus years in jail charged with all manner of things both federally and locally from kidnapping to racketeering.
There have been nearly 40,000 people identified as likely victims of human trafficking in the United States since 2007, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
But now, Lee said, gangs are taking over the game. The infamous criminal gangs known for running drugs and guns started pushing the pimps out and taking over the prostitution rings, getting girls to make their money and take the rap when they get arrested. Now that the laws are more stringent against human trafficking, the gangs use the girls for other crimes.
"They are more violent. And because gangs control the girls, they know they serve less time using them for other types of crimes," Lee said.
Lee said she sees a way to fix that: "There should be a law that anyone who uses a child in any kind of crime suffers the same penalties as if they use them for sex-trafficking."
These horrid monsters are going after our most vulnerable in society.