The faces of the young women staring blankly at a police camera appear impassive, almost stunned.
And yet, there they are, accused of sex trafficking minors.
Barely out of their teens themselves.
Women have always had a slice of the pie when it comes to prostitution management. They owned and ran cathouses from New Orleans to Nepal.
But not the streets. That was for pimps like the famed Iceberg Slim who lorded over a Chicago vice empire for decades.
No more. Women have broken the glass ceiling in pimping if a rash of recent arrests involving female sex traffickers in the GTA is any indication.
The latest to get pinched is Aerial Lawrence, 20, of Toronto.
Toronto Police claim the brunette with the cherubic face pimped out a 16-year-old girl.
Lawrence allegedly advertised the girl’s sexual services online and over the course of four days demanded “through violence or coercion” that the terrified teen have sex with a number of men. And when cash changed hands, the alleged victim got zip.
Now, Lawrence is charged with procuring, administering a noxious substance, trafficking in persons under 18, producing and distributing child pornography, advertising sexual services, and on and on.
Her star turn comes Friday in court at Old City Hall.
Other teen girls have come forward to police services in and around the GTA complaining they have also been victimized by female pimps. Durham Regional Police busted Szilvia Balog, 20, who is accused of forcing a 16-year-old girl into prostitution. The hook was Snapchat.
According to a slew of studies, female pimps — and many male pimps — are sex assault or trafficking victims themselves.
A DePaul University study of female pimps discovered that around 50% had been coerced into the game, mainly at the behest of their boyfriends. One said three of her sisters were also in the sex trade and that when her old man went to jail, she had to take over … or else.
“I didn’t want to but it was my job to take over and get his money. He told me he would have me taken care of (injured) if I didn’t continue to take care of his business and stable,” the unidentified woman told researchers.
Another Chicago woman grew up with sex assault. She didn’t make it past Grade 8. The woman became her pimp boyfriend’s collector.
She would take the prostitutes to the clients and collect the cash.
“I used to think he did it that way because I was special to him, but I found out it was only so he wouldn’t get arrested for pimping. No one could say they gave him money because they gave it to me. I had to make sure the ho’s made his money and collect it, or he would bust me up, real simple.”
The man ended up murdering every one of the women in his stable. His girlfriend took over to raise cash for his lawyers.
One 30-year-old female pimp in Chicago said her sisters and her mother also sold their bodies.
When the woman was 9 years old, “(my mother allowed my uncle to rape me) so I could lose my innocence. For sure he paid her. Soon after she brought other men to me, some raped me, some took pictures. By the time I was 12 I was used to it. If I didn’t do it we would live in the streets.”
She added: “You call it pimping, I call it surviving and being smart. You either get in this world or you get got. No one will get me again like my mother did.”
And the sad beat of innocent tears keeps rolling.