Added: Eun Bohanon - Date: 12.01.2022 14:30 - Views: 11474 - Clicks: 1803
Savage violence is a daily part of life for prostitutes, said Deanne Lawson, who sees the carnage firsthand. Layton Blvd. Those who arrive at the center, a safe place for sexually exploited women, often show up beaten, stitched up, drug addicted and without hope, said Lawson. The women come from broken homes and live broken lives, some forced into prostitution by boyfriends, parents or other family members, while others were plied with heroin, Lawson said.
Many of the women who work on Greenfield Avenue were trafficked from out of state, she added. Any one of them might not have realized she was a victim of human trafficking until she stepped into a house full of women being held captive. The drugs, dope houses, pimps and johns are all there in abundance, Ward explained. Lawson and a team of volunteers, sometimes including city leaders such as Ald. Jose Perez, hit Greenfield Avenue on Wednesday and Friday nights, offering women dignity bags containing food and self-care supplies.
Also inside each bag is a resource card with the addresses of IBC and a drop-in center on the North Side. Last year the outreach teams made contacts with 90 different women; of those, they saw 58 only once, suggesting that they have moved elsewhere, according to Lawson. The resource card is subtle for a reason, said Lawson, as pimps and their hired associates often circle the women like vultures, providing a menacing reminder that their job is to sell their body for sex and bring money back to their handler. While not all the women are trafficked or have a pimp, many of them do.
The fear of becoming a victim of violence should they choose to quit is real.
But some manage to escape their pimps or quit. Lawson first worked with prostitutes on Lincoln Avenue more than 10 years ago, after one came into the church she and her husband, a pastor, ran until he retired last year. Helping women such as Ward became her mission and has radically changed her life.
After her husband retired, the couple moved IBC to a location right off Greenfield Avenue, the city street with the highest of arrests for prostitution and where half the calls to Milwaukee Police Department District 2 regarding solicitation originated during the first six months of Toys are available for mothers who bring their children, and volunteer beauticians come twice a month to provide free haircuts and some pampering.
Prostitution has created another set of victims — people who live and work near Greenfield Avenue. Public outcry about increased prostitution on Greenfield Avenue, open air drug abuse, and the needles, condoms and other paraphernalia littering residential areas full of children and families led Ald. Greenfield Ave. Peter Lutheran Schoolwhich ads the church. Margie Kahn used to catch a bus on Greenfield Avenue after working her second-shift job. Harassment from men drove Cynthia Pinterics and her children from Greenfield Avenue after living there for only three months. Much of the frustration for residents, especially parents, stems from the fact that children are being exposed to prostitution.
Heather Wurth, District 2 police captain, acknowledged that prostitution on Greenfield Avenue has hurt the quality of life of residents there, but said police are limited in their ability to respond. She said that stings are labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive, adding that the public health and safety concerns that arise from prostitution cannot be addressed by policing alone. Wurth added that there appears to be a decreasing of addiction treatment services available and there are long waiting lists. Without treatment or jobs, she said, individuals arrested or released from jail would likely go back to the same areas and the same activities.
The strategy includes creating databases that identify known customers and pimps, coordinating with and providing information to the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukeepromoting awareness campaigns, strategically placing pole cameras and nuisance abatement vehicles, and sharing information about community resources. The goal of the approach is to bring stability back to neighborhoods that have suffered from prostitution and the problems that stem from it. While this approach does at times involve increased pressure from law enforcement in the form of intensified patrolling of streets, drug dens and nuisance properties, the police are fighting an uphill battle.
According to Lawson, when a notable increase in police presence along Greenfield Avenue occurred after the Public Safety Committee hearing in September prostitution decreased, but the activity returned to normal levels after a week or two. According to Tammy Rivera, executive director of Southside Organizing Committee SOCresidents support a community-based approach to address the problem. Rivera said the SOC polled residents in the core area where prostitution occurs, near South 18th Street and West Greenfield Avenue, and 70 percent preferred diversion programs for prostitutes to incarceration.
Many residents, including Kahn, said they understand that most women working the streets are not there by choice.
But, many of them are suffering from addiction or other illnesses, which always bothered Jelena Stojsavljevi, who managed the Speedway on South 9th Street and West Greenfield Avenue until recently. She said the women would sometimes come in to the store right after a transaction and could barely look her in the eye.
More community resources could be available on the South Side soon. The Sisters Program was developed in response to street prostitution in and its drop-in center is open five days a week. According to Geraci, the women often have drug addictions in addition to histories of complex trauma, and recovery necessitates a comprehensive approach that usually takes at least two years.
She said the program focuses on housing, medical care, drug and substance abuse treatment, and mental health. In District 3, on the North Side, a pilot program gives women who are arrested for prostitution the opportunity to participate in the diversion program. The women take the lead in terms of the issues they choose to work on. The group hopes to match the success of its program on the North Side, where from to45 women completed the diversion program and stayed engaged beyond the six-month minimum requirement, and 21 percent of women reported quitting prostitution within a year.
In31 percent of the women who completed the program reported quitting the sex trade. Despite the data from the pilot diversion program, which was compiled with the help of the Medical College of WisconsinDonovan questioned the effectiveness of the Sisters Program during the committee hearing.
Geraci acknowledged that the center is not a locked facility and women are free to come and go as they choose. Geraci said there are not enough residential treatment options available to deal with the magnitude of the problem in Milwaukee. Some residents, angered that their children find used condoms and needles in the street or in parking lots, have taken to harassing prostitutes to drive them away.
They know that. One change that needs to occur, according to Lawson and Geraci, is that the men who are creating the demand for prostitutes and fueling addictions with drugs need to be dealt with more harshly. According to a February Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service report on human trafficking, arrests for soliciting a prostitute decreased from in to in in Milwaukee. The report quotes Sgt. Theresa Janick, who investigates human trafficking cases in the city, stating that the sheer of people who purchase sex presents a huge challenge.
And due to that demand, said Lawson, many of the women will continue to find work.
For Ward, who was first prostituted at the age of 15, the decision to testify against her pimp in court led to death threats and forced her out of town. She said that she rarely leaves the house and suffers from PTSD. She will never be able to have a relationship or trust others, especially men, she said. But she is glad to be alive and reunited with her family, after feeling so unloved for so long.
The key to helping women such as Ward quit prostitution, said Lawson, is to not give up on them. That they matter, that their lives have meaning and that they are loved. The answer is not to arrest and kick them down even lower. Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. For Mary Ward, who worked as a prostitute on West Lincoln and West Greenfield avenues for decades, the scenario had played itself out a thousand times before.
During her date, her pimp was to show up, deliver drugs, collect money and leave. Faced with the decision of whether to stay or run away, Ward waited for police to arrive. That was the last day she used drugs or allowed someone to abuse her body. Deanne Lawson, executive director of the Inner Beauty Center, stands next to racks of donated clothes. Photo by Edgar Mendez The resource card is subtle for a reason, said Lawson, as pimps and their hired associates often circle the women like vultures, providing a menacing reminder that their job is to sell their body for sex and bring money back to their handler.
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The victims of Greenfield Avenue