As a member of our student staff, I am helping with a research project that we are doing on behalf of Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to ending the practice of human trafficking. Specifically, the team I am a part of is researching case law with respect to how various jurisdictions have dealt with “bottom girls.”
The term “bottom girl” is one I admit that I was unfamiliar with before taking on this project. Indeed, Shared Hope itself has stated on its website that it is a term you would not typically come across if you are unfamiliar with the culture of human sex trafficking. A bottom girl is a pimp’s senior prostitute, whom the pimp places over any other prostitutes under his control. She performs various tasks on behalf on the pimp, such as placing advertisements for the girls online, arranging prostitution meetings for the girls, making sure that the girls know and obey the pimp’s rules, and enforcing discipline. Although she exercises authority over the girls, she herself is still under the pimp and is subject to much of the abuse and victimization that is common in the sex trafficking industry. When arrested, they often face human trafficking charges along with the pimp.
Through working on this issue, I find myself thinking about the balance of justice and mercy, and how it is vital in this matter to discover that balance. One the one hand, the things they are doing to other girls under a pimp’s control are often truly terrible, and merit punishment. I have read stories of them physically and sexually abusing other girls. On the other, they too are victims of a terrible crime, and often subject to terrible abuse themselves, sometimes even more so than the other girls, and this must be taken into account when determining what punishment is appropriate. Failing to do so is to deal out further injustice to those who have already endured so much of it.
Please join me in praying that the law would fairly treat those who have already been treated so unfairly.