Prostitution in Nevada’s rural counties is legal in state-sanctioned brothels. It is illegal in Las Vegas.
Yet, it endures here. And many women who work the streets and the casinos do so knowing that they are virtually owned by pimps. In fact, their very lives may be risked if they try to leave.
For eight years, former prostitute Annie Lobert has tried to help those women break free of that life.
Lobert, who grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin, was a prostitute for 16 years, starting in Minneapolis. Talking to "KNPR's State of Nevada," she described how she first learned that her boyfriend was actually her pimp.
She was making money, as she put it, "selling my body," when he one day demanded she give him all the money.
When she refused, he took her to the back of their house, beat her, gave her a broken nose and ribs, rubbed her face in dog feces and against the concrete.
"It's then that realized I was with a sex trafficker," Lobert said.
Today works to get women off the streets via Hookers for Jesus. She also had a home donated to her, which she has dubbed Destiny House, which gives room, board and help to those who have been rescued.
In addition, Lobert trains and educates leaders, organizations, and churches to effectively help minister to sex workers and sex trafficking victims.
Las Vegas has a reputation as an "anything goes" tourist destination, a fact not unknown by pimps and their prostitutes. It's so well-known, three-time Olympic track star Suzy Favor, also of Wisconsin, confessed two years ago that she worked occasionally as a $600/hour prostitute in Las Vegas. The mother and wife said she was leading a "double life."
Lobert said she fully understood Favor's point of view.
"I had a double life and there is an underlying root of something that is basically influencing them to those that lifestyle," she said. "A lot of it, not for everyone -- the underlying cause is we don't believe we're worth anything." Despite the pains she endured, Lobert said if she had to do it all over again, she would. "It made me a fighter, a stronger person, a person of change," she said. "I don't want to step down from that."
Annie Lobert, Hookers for Jesus/Destiny House founder
Suzie, HFJ Program Coordinator, former prostitute rescued by Hookers for Jesus
Andrew Spivak, UNLV Sociology Professor
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