Sex Trafficking: Local Woman Shares Story

Human Trafficking Bill Debated In Annapolis

It’s not uncommon to see prostitutes working in some Baltimore neighborhoods. But what you don’t see is the person using threats of violence or worse, to keep that woman out on the streets.

Human trafficking is not a felony in Maryland, unless the person being forced to have sex is a minor. Now there’s a new push in Annapolis to strengthen the state’s laws against people who force women to sell sex.

We spoke with a woman who wanted to make it clear that the real victims of human trafficking, are the prostitutes themselves. Angela Jackson worked as a prostitute in Baltimore City for more than a decade.

‘My dad started touching me when I was five,’ she said. ‘And you know, back then they taught you whatever happened in the house stayed in the house.’

She ran away from home at the age of 15. By 20, she was HIV positive, and addicted to heroin. That’s when she started selling her body on the streets of Baltimore. ‘I got into a relationship where the guy, I thought he loved me,’ she said. ‘He only loved me enough for what I could produce and that was more drugs. Which meant that he would put me out there and I didn’t want to be out there.’

But she kept going out there. Very often she says, there were as many as 30 ‘tricks’ a day, for years. ‘Whoever he suggested, I went with. And if I didn’t want to go with them, then I had to do it or suffer the consequences,’ she said.

The so-called boyfriend never suffered any consequences in state courts. If he had been charged with trafficking, which he wasn’t, it would have been a misdemeanor. Bills being debated in Annapolis could change that — advocates for women who work the streets say even they don’t know how big the problem is. ‘By nature of the crime a person might be hidden inside a home in domestic servitude. Or in a brothel having no idea where they can turn to to escape a situation,’ said Karen Stauss of the Polaris Project, which advocates for victims of human trafficking.

Angela Jackson is now married, living with her husband and two daughters in West Baltimore. She’s been off drugs for almost 13 years, and she’s controlling her HIV with medication. She isn’t sure that what’s going on in Annapolis will help with what’s going on on the streets of Baltimore — but at least she says, it’s a start. ‘Are they actually going to fight for us? You know what I mean? Who’s going to actually stand up and fight for us if they already figure it’s a losing battle. (They say) this is a prostitute she’s got a charge record, prostitution up the ying-yang. They don’t understand they don’t understand,’ she said.

Jackson had an older daughter, who was the victim of a murder in Baltimore back in 2008. She says she has always been open with her children about her past — she’s hoping they’ll avoid falling into the lifestyle she did.

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