USA-Chicago: Study Finds Most Pimps Were Abused as Children – Is That Why They Hate Women??

Jody Raphael, left, of the DePaul College of Law, and Brenda Myers-Powell discuss their study involving interviews of 25 ex-pimps in Chicago. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / September 14, 2010)

By Duaa Eldeib, Tribune reporter

8:59 p.m. CDT, September 15, 2010

Most of the two dozen former pimps and madams questioned by DePaul University researchers for a study on Chicago’s sex trade had suffered both physical and sexual abuse as children.

The study, “From Victims to Victimizers: Interviews with 25 ex-pimps in Chicago,” by researcher Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell, a former longtime prostitute, found a staggering 88 percent of those surveyed suffered physical abuse growing up, while 76 percent endured sexual abuse. In many cases, the abuse forced them to leave home early and turn to pimping to survive.

The majority also traded sex for money before becoming pimps, Raphael said. Of the 25 former pimps interviewed, seven were women, nearly all of whom had been victims of violence and prostitution.

Myers-Powell, who spent more than 20 years on the street, works as peer coordinator for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s prostitution intervention team and does advocacy work through the Dreamcatcher Foundation, which helps victims of prostitution. For the study, she spent about two hours interviewing each former pimp. Each was paid $250.

Raphael, a research fellow at the DePaul University College of Law, developed a 91-question survey for the study. She and Myers-Powell work with End Demand Illinois, a coalition aimed at ending prostitution and sex trafficking.

The former pimps reported having made between $150,000 and $500,000 a year. Many of them said they felt pimping was less risky than dealing drugs or committing a felony.

A rising awareness of international sex trafficking in recent years has shed light on pimping in Chicago, Raphael said.

“We have the same phenomenon ­ local girls are being pimped and trafficked in the same way, which is what we’re beginning to understand now,” she said.

More than half the pimps said they paid law enforcement in order to survive in the business, as well as bellmen, hotel clerks and bartenders for referring customers, according to the study.

“The fact is their business survives on the tolerance of all these other entities,” Raphael said. “They’re saying there’s no end of customers. They’re falling off the trees.”

deldieb@tribune.com

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s