A 20-year-old woman from Texas who answered a Craiglist ad for a modelling job found herself being trafficked in a Philadelphia strip club instead. The trafficker, Michael Watts, had been released from jail in April 2013 for previous drug and gun related convictions, and had a long history of running escort services. According to Penn Live News,
…when the victim refused to dance, two other women stripped her down and forced her to dance partially nude.
After a few days, the victim escaped by running to a bank and asking for help.
- Trafficking often takes place in strip clubs. One of the survivors we interviewed in Red Light Green Light had answered a newspaper ad for modelling in Las Vegas, and once she got there, her ID was taken away and she was forced to strip (and offer additional sexual services) in clubs all over the Eastern U.S.
- A strip club manager we met in our home town told us that one day a girl with a tattoo came to strip for them. A few weeks later, another girl with the same tattoo came in. A while later, a third girl appeared. Turns out all three had the same pimp.
- Many strip clubs don’t officially “hire” strippers – the women pay a base fee to dance there, and anything they make from tips beyond that they get to keep (unless, of course, they have a pimp). For this reason, it is easy for many strip club managers and owners to turn a blind eye, as the girls are not technically employed by the establishment.
- In this case, two other women forcefully stripped the victim down and put her on the stage. This is likely a “bottom bitch” scenario. Often a trafficker will select a woman he’s been abusing and “promote” them into a different role – that of “breaking in” and training other women. This gives her a sense of power, and in return she may not have to provide sexual services herself.