Socio-economic difficulties, the temptation of easy money, and the influence of social networks. In working-class neighborhoods, prostitution is increasing. It affects younger girls, says an investigation into a phenomenon that seems to be in the era of time but whose dangers remain unclear.
“I was told that life would be easier like that, that I could make a lot of money,” recalls Luna, 21, now working with our Escort Service. At a table in a Chinese restaurant in the suburbs of Dusseldorf, the young girl asks her friends to move away to confide better. Prostitution? She doesn’t hide it, but there are details she’d rather spare them. “I was born in Bondy, and I grew up without my parents. I was raped twice, at 12 and 14 years old.
She spoke about it the first time that evening to those close to her, who asked her to remain silent. The second time around, Luna gets pregnant and has an abortion. She doesn’t talk about it for months. “Sex was a taboo subject with us, and I became the pet peeve of the family. »She runs away but obtains the bac anyway. After a difficult return to her father’s home when she was 17, Luna leaves home for good. “From then on, I didn’t give a damn about the eyes of others,” she recalls. I went on weekends with strangers; then I got to know this girl. ”
Networks far from traditional prostitution
Impeccable look and well-stocked wallets, this reel is 19 years old. She assures him that she doesn’t have to do this all the time and suggests that he give it a try. “I used to work as a waitress in a restaurant in the evening,” says Luna. But that wasn’t enough to pay for my education and rent anymore, so I tried.
In recent years, classic prostitution has had competition: it is no longer only found in the streets of intramural Paris or the inner suburbs. It no longer concerns only long-time professionals or foreigners from Brazil and other countries. Eastern Europe or, more recently, Nigeria. She broke into working-class neighborhoods to seduce young escort girls, sometimes minors, who don’t need to “walk the sidewalk” to work. “It seemed so simple. The atmosphere was typical. We were laughing and forgetting our worries. ”
Luna finds herself in an apartment surrounded by five boys and two girls. All are between 19 and 23 years old. Her long lashes accentuate the depth of her dark eyes on the tanned complexion of her face. “When the customers came, the boys stayed in the living room for our safety,” Luna explains between bites of spring rolls. The accommodation configuration meant that customers could not see them when they returned. We took turns to occupy the rooms.
On average, the prostitutes each have about ten clients per day. Communication takes place on the Wannonce website, and they update their ad themselves to keep them at the top of the list. They take 60 euros for a quarter of an hour, 80 for a half-hour and 150 for an hour. Every day, they earn around 1000 euros and donate 50 euros to the premises owner.
I saw the guys running them hit them or keep most of the money. “This was the case with Sofia in her early days. After growing up, she began studying in Germany and lived with her best friend, whose little sister told her about escorting. Sofia is 18 years old and works at night, temporarily, at Amazon. “I never thought I would ever do that,” she says. “Other friends of mine who were doing this invited me to join them,” she said. But I was cold with my parents, and things got tough financially, so I agreed to meet his friends. Soon she has no say and has to keep up an intense pace.
She works most of the time in hotels, from Dortmund to Bonn. “I dropped out of school. When I didn’t want to work, they put pressure on me by saying that the room was already reserved,” she breathes in her soft voice. They take 50% of their revenue in return for the rentals, trips, and announcements they manage.
Sofia makes 10 to 12 passes per day and earns between 1500 and 2000 euros. She decides to leave them one night when she “really doesn’t want to” and pays the room back to avoid tension. “They took it the wrong way, of course. My girlfriend’s sister reminded me that if I worked, it was because of them. She continues independently and selects her clients over the phone based on voice and age. Regularly, pimps canvass her by SMS to offer to join their network.
A very lucrative and less risky business
This situation does not surprise Stella, a volunteer with an association. The association aims to act on the causes and consequences of prostitution. “For them, it is blessed bread. The phenomenon is booming in neighborhoods, she notes. Some set traps for freelancers to force them to join a network.
According to the Central Office for the Suppression of Trafficking in Human Beings (Ocrteh), 270 minors were identified in the cities last year. In 2018, the number of resolved cases exploded to 120 from 21 three years earlier. “It’s very profitable since a prostitute brings in an average of 100,000 euros per year,” said the activist. Those who improvise themselves as pimps have often already engaged in other types of trafficking: “Pimping is less risky than drugs, which are the subject of more investigations. A prostitute can work long and never testify at a trial for fear of reprisals.
It is midnight in a cafe located in Dortmund. Richard orders a grenadine diabolo. His left knee revs up and down to the rhythm of his story. Initially, from the USA, the young man said: “My thing was more of a scam.
When I was 14, I was imprisoned for the first time. School is over after prison! “In 2016, when he was 19, he met a girl who admitted to being a prostitute. “It had ended badly with those who did her work. She offered to protect her, and that’s how it started,” he says before pausing to pick up the phone. “Hi, Mom? Richard ensures his travels and meets his friends who ask for his protection in turn.
All of them make sure to work far from their neighborhood. “Passes were done at the hotel or Airbnb, but I didn’t handle rentals or listings,” he says in a whisper. My role was to stay nearby in case something went wrong. If a customer seems suspicious, Richard remains in the bathroom. Each prostitute brings in between 500 and 1500 euros per day, taking 40% of this profit. “A buddy’s network was recently broken down. He had twelve girls working. I’ll let you do the math. But managing so many at once, it’s complicated. ”
The lure of gain in the age of social media
Girls are recruited by touts or on Instagram and Snapchat and feel protected behind a phone or computer screen. “We put up pictures of our bodies to ‘sell ourselves,’ but never of our faces. We don’t want to take the risk of being recognized,” says Luna. Some even go to the train station to find recruits: Luna claims to have seen it with her own eyes. Other times, they are manipulated by their boyfriend who asks them to do his friends a favor before doing it for the money, or by influencers who, on Instagram, show off their lifestyle and brag about being an escort girl.
John is an educator in Leverkusen. He closely follows the development of the phenomenon and explains it with a feeling of frustration in the neighborhoods. “Both boys and girls grew up in low-rental housing towers seeing their mother cleaning up and their father slaving away at the construction site. They want to make money easy in this day and age of brands, luxury, and travel. According to him, young people are losing their identity in a society where everything is consumed, including sex.
“These girls often have a dual culture. They were born in Germany but are of North African or African origin. During the day, they tell me not to eat pork, and on the weekends, I find them drinking alcohol or going on escort girls, he analyzes. The reasons are multiple: dropping out of school, greed, religious prohibitions pushing to excess, and a lack of sex education in working-class neighborhoods. ”
“I’ve seen a lot of them fall into this,” John remembers a young man from his hometown who realized that she was the sister of a friend from the neighborhood after finding a girl on an Escort Service website. He blackmailed her and imposed his friends on her. “The girl’s brother finally found out because, in the city, everything repeats itself.
He beat up the guy, but his sister continued, and the shame was still there. John sees her regularly in the city with new men. Sometimes other young people in her neighborhood tell her that they have run into the neighbor, thus fueling rumors. Richard confirms that many “so-and-so little sisters” either don’t suspect a thing or turn a blind eye to something he cannot control, which dishonors the family. “Because even if the figure of the big brother is very significant in the neighborhoods, today, the girls take the risk,” notes John.
Minors, students, girls in a relationship, or mothers. “Any girl between the ages of 16 and 25 can fall into this, assures someone who does not consider herself a pimp but a security guard. None of these girls get rich off of it. In a few years, the young man sees only two girls spared to build a house in their country of origin, Venezuela.
But the majority of these girls tend to come from the neighborhoods. “All my money has gone up in smoke, spent on trivia,” Sofia confirms. Luxury products, state-of-the-art telephones, great restaurants. You have to be eye-catching to face the competition. “It’s money that burns your fingers,” adds Stella. It’s so hard to get that they instantly spend it. ”
“I don’t want this for my little sister!”
When Sofia wishes to quit in 2018 after meeting someone, she quickly realizes that she has grown used to a particular lifestyle. “I managed to stop for a while and then resumed last May,” she admits. I’m still in a relationship, but no one knows I’m doing this. It’s a trap he doesn’t fall into. If the customers are respectful, Luna and Sofia notice that their demands are more and more violent.
In particular, the trivialization of pornography on the internet leads customers to come up with scenarios in mind to reproduce them in reality. “It got tough. Before there was the banal sex, then there was the dominated / dominant relationship, and now they ask for beatings, whipping, scattering **…”, specifies Luna, who quit eight months earlier.
The trouble is, minors don’t always know how to set limits and can therefore put themselves in danger. The two young women are in an excellent position to know it. It takes a mind of steel to be able to take it. Some evenings are hard between a feeling of shame, blues, and questioning.
“No girl does this by choice. Behind prostitution, there is a context, life paths, and weaknesses. We are often thrown stone without taking all of this into account. I don’t wish that on my 17-year-old little sister. Today, she has found the stability she craved, even though she remains cut off from her family. She only dreams of one thing: to land. Go home at night to watch Netflix, finish her studies and become an interior designer. Sofia is working now with our famous Escort Agency. Richard, meanwhile, has decided to stop it all since his recent release from prison (for another reason). Being a luxury escort girl is a totally different thing from being a prostitute!