We quickly moved on and found our next destination, which was a motel—also dimly lit. We backed into a parking spot and faced the building. Jimmy honked his horn and we waited in silence as a woman poked her head out of a door to our left. Jimmy spoke to her, asking if she knew where he could find a friend of his. She seemed confused at first and began to approach the car. As she got closer, we could see that she was dressed in loose-fitting, skimpy clothing and seemed to be strung out on drugs of some kind. Nothing about her demeanor seemed happy or content. She appeared to be both nervous and exhausted.
Jimmy explained to us that, while he’s had women tell him that prostitution is a career path that they have chosen for themselves, he knows that deep down, it’s not true. No woman would choose that kind of a lifestyle; having to serve upwards of ten Johns in one night, sometimes putting themselves into incredibly unsafe positions. In addition, they often don’t even earn very much from each John. In some cases, it could be as little as twenty dollars.
This particular encounter really cemented the fact that the sale of illegal drugs and prostitution are, in many cases, inextricably linked. Many of the factors that might push women into prostitution are also factors that push individuals into the drug trade, especially economic factors. When individuals feel as though they are in a situation where selling drugs or selling sex are the only ways for them to make ends meet, they will take desperate measures to ensure that they can provide financially for themselves and their families.
This ride-along has changed the way I view these issues because it’s made me realize just how sheltered I have been for most of my life. I like to think that I am aware of these kinds of crimes, but truly, I don’t know the half of it. In advocating for additional protections for women who have been trafficked into sex trafficking, it’s important for those of us who are aware of the issue to emphasize that, though these women may appear to be choosing this lifestyle, like the woman we saw at the motel, that couldn’t be further from the truth. First and foremost, victims of prostitution deserve all the help and support they can get. Seeing the issue firsthand just makes me all the more committed to raising awareness about how harmful and prevalent sexual exploitation is in our society. At the end of the day, awareness will be the first step toward solving the problem once and for all.