Why? Because the legal system viewed us as "criminals" that's why. Literally. I took a woman who had been stabbed 51 times into the Hillside Strangler Task Force while her stitches were still fresh to file a report against the two cousins, actually two pimps, about what they'd just done to her. They threw us out of their offices saying they "couldn't get a warrant based on the world of a whore"?
When I asked why this was the case, he explained to obtain a warrant there has to be "credible" evidence. Our testimony as criminals is therefore considered worthless. He explained this would mean any evidence they're then find would actually be in danger of being ruled as "inadmissible" for that reason. The courts viewed the word of a prostitute back then on the same level as that of a murderer, rapist, or even bank robber in that we were considered then 100 % "criminals".
This bugged me because I knew lots of women who were being literally forced into prostitution. One woman I knew had a pimp who would threatened to cut off her six year old daughter's arm if she didn't return home each evening. One night this woman got caught in a raid and the police detained her all day. She kept trying to tell the police he was threatening to harm her baby if she didn''t get back home by a certain hour. They weren't listening and when she finally returned home - he had in fact cut off her daughter's arm. Now I ask you - how is that woman a "criminal" in the eyes of the law?
We didn't have the term "sex trafficking" back then. All we had was the terms for "white slavery", "forced" and "pimping". So when I launched our hotline and program for people like her to get some help because clearly the system wasn't going to help us. Because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic at that time, we couldn't even get admitted into a homeless shelter, detox or domestic violence shelter for fear of either contracting the virus, or worse still being afraid our pimp would show up with guns threatening to kill someone if we didn't come back to working for him and give him all our money. So on one hand, we're being completely targeted by pimps, bandits, rapists and murderers, while the system is refusing to provide us with anything other than treating us like we're the criminals! Well something had to give and I set out to provide us with some help ourselves since no one else would back then. The attitude was "you're over 18 so you should be able to take care of yourself". Meaning it was our fault we needed help was the message.