Pimp’s paradise - Men making money from female flesh with deadly fear
They lurk in the dark corners, keeping their charges in sight, counting the clients who fork out money for sexual pleasure in the sleazy brothels along 'Back Road' - Port Henderson Road in Portmore, St Catherine.
They are pimps making money from prostitutes - women trapped in a cycle of suffering, selling sex in the area. Many of these women, trying to dodge a life of poverty, brace for regular beatings from the men who act as their protectors.
The prostitutes say they are verbally and physically abused by the pimps, who claim they are providing security services and who demand a large slice of the money for the sexual favours the women sell.
But last Tuesday, Stylist*, who indicated his dislike of the pimp moniker as he kept watch on one of his skimpily clad girls soliciting clients near an abandoned hotel on Port Henderson Road, claimed that he, and others like him, delivered a well-needed service.
"Call me security," said Stylist, sipping a Guinness as he kept watch on his girl from a nearby bar.
"Sometimes you have man come from all 'bout and try rob di girls dem. We deh here just in case anything go on," added Stylist.
HAZARDS OF THE JOB
Not so, said Tamia*, who has been a prostitute on Back Road for more than four years. She said it is very difficult for some girls to avoid the clutches of the men who prey on women, mainly those who are from areas outside of Portmore and who are unfamiliar with the strip.
"Most of the girls come from country and don't know how around there situate. You come on a ends and you have all sort of bad man posing as customers who will just see you, drive up to you, and take everything from you," said Chambers as she emphasised some of the hazards of the job.
"Most of the girls - at least half of them - have their little bad man dem, their little pimps, who send them out go make the money, come back, give them it," said Chambers.
"Half of the girls are like that, and you have another half of the girls who just tell themselves that no man not going to pimp them out."
Chambers said the pimps are usually deportees, like the one who introduced her to prostitution after she gave up dancing at a strip club when she got pregnant with her daughter, the only girl among her four children.
She said many of the pimps are members of the two organised criminal gangs that operate out of Spanish Town, St Catherine.
Some of the pimps meet their prostitutes for the first time on Back Road, while others take their girls from areas as close as Old Harbour or as far away as Ocho Rios, St Ann, and Montego Bay, St James.
According to Chambers, the pimps keep watch over their girls from the sidewalks and doorways of nearby buildings and check how many clients each girl sees each night.
Based on the number of clients counted, the pimps determine how much money the girls should have made for the night and demand their cut.
If the girls deny making that amount of money, the pimps react angrily, and the repercussions can be deadly.
"The pimp dem beat the woman dem bad. If a girl goes out tonight and she doesn't make anything because things slow, him beat her. She cannot come in until she makes some money, wherever she has to get it from," said Renae*, another prostitute who operates on Back Road.
"Some of the girl dem bruck the man dem bad, too because as soon as dem make a money, dem go downtown and go shopping for the man dem - buy dem Clarks (shoes), bleaching cream, and stuff," added Renae.
She alleged that some prostitutes resort to robbing or shortchanging clients in order to meet their obligations to the pimps.
"I don't consider myself a pimp. Pimp sound like some foreign thing that you see in movie. We are just here ensuring that they are safe on the road and dem take care of us for that," argued Stylist as he admitted collecting from the prostitutes.
'SECURITY' BY CHANCE
According to Stylist, he got into the prostitute-security business by chance, as after paying for sex from one of the girls one night, numbers were exchanged, and soon, the 24-year-old prostitute, who lives in Spanish Town, was requesting his presence there constantly.
But while some prostitutes endure the treatment from their pimps in pursuit of a "better life", some are willing to speak covertly with the authorities and police about their plight.
None will speak openly or make reports to uniformed cops, however, as they are fearful of reprisals from the pimps or their cronies.
Head of the St Catherine South Police Division Senior Superintendent Noel Christie last week confirmed that the cops had no official reports on the actions of the pimps.
According to Christie, the police are taking steps to deal with the prostitution, which is a feature of Back Road.
"What I can tell you is that we have been regularly going around there on police operations to curtail the situation, but some of the girls are just adamant about going around there, so they just continue," said Christie.
* Names changed on request.