Did you know that tattoo artists are on the front lines in the fight against child sex trafficking in the U.S.? That's because a common practice of pimps that sell teen girls for sex is to compel the girls to get tattoos, indicating they are the pimp's property.
An example of this form of abuse happened recently in Brooklyn. To break in a 15-year-old girl he had just started to control, a local pimp took her to a tattoo shop, presented himself as her legal guardian, and forced her to get his nickname tattooed on her body. The tattoo was for both traffickers and victim, a permanent sign of ownership.
If tattoo artists know the signs of human trafficking, they can help prevent pimps from using tattoos to brand sex trafficking victims as property and report suspected cases of abuse to the police.
Ask the National Tattoo Association to incorporate training on the link between sex trafficking and tattoos into their 2012 National Conference.
While pimps use a number of techniques to keep these children controlled and enslaved, tattooing is a popular tool. Over the past five years, a growing number of human trafficking cases have been identified where a pimp forced his victims to get a tattoo symbolizing his complete control over them. Sometimes, these girls are underage, and the pimp will pose as a parent or guardian giving permission for the tattoo.
As this trend grows, tattoo artists are becoming critical allies in the fight against child sex trafficking in the U.S. When artists know how to identify the warning signs of human trafficking, they can help report suspicious requests and prevent sex trafficking victims from being marked with a powerful symbol of their enslavement.
I hope the National Tattoo Association will join me in fighting against human trafficking by including a training for artists on how to identify and report human trafficking at their next national conference.
Will you stand against those who would use tattooing as a symbol of oppression?