Skip to main content

Shared Hope International Bottom Girl Project Update by Jessica Rigsbee

By November 12, 2015December 16th, 2019Shared Hope, Student Staff
As a member of the Center for Global Justice student staff and a student intern this past summer, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work on legal projects that not only give me valuable experience, but that make an impact on important human rights issues in today’s society. The most important thing that I have taken out of my work for the Center is the global perspective and outward focus it helps me maintain in the world of law school. The Center helps me keep my focus on the ultimate goal and the reason I came to law school: to use law in a way that gives a voice to the voiceless.

The project that I have been working on this semester personifies that goal. My team and I have been working on a project for Shared Hope International, which primarily works to prevent and raise awareness of human trafficking. Shared Hope wanted a memo on the topic of “bottom girls” and how they are treated in human trafficking litigation. “Bottom girls” are the lead prostitutes for pimps who are often in charge of the other prostitutes, handling the money, scheduling meet-ups, etc. Due to their active role in prostitution and the trafficking of minors with the pimps, they are frequently charged with trafficking and sentenced the same as the pimps they work for. The issue we have been examining is what happens when the bottom girl is a victim of trafficking herself, and is therefore coerced by the pimp to engage in trafficking? Do courts consider her a victim, or punish her the same as the trafficker?

The cases we have been researching vary, but it is clear that the violence bottom girls often experience needs to be considered more in trafficking cases. With the memo that my team and I are creating, Shared Hope will be a better position to promote awareness and advocate for bottom girls in litigation.