They stand at the courtroom podium, heads bowed. Beyond their swollen, black eyes lies a palpable fear.

Court of Common Pleas Commissioner Mary McDonough empathizes with these weary women — prostitutes snubbed by respectable society. Many have suffered physical and emotional torment for decades, yet present a lacquered, impenetrable exterior.

One is in her 40s but appears much older. She asks to be sent to prison after being hit with a fine for driving without insurance. Her father sold her into prostitution as a teenager, she explains, and the drugs failed to deaden the pain. Prison would be a relief.

To read more:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *