Bodies and Souls: The Tragic Plight of Three Jewish Women Forced into Prostitution in the Americas

Written by Isabel Vincent
Review by Marcia K. Matthews

Sexual slavery is today’s news. Drugging, abduction, rape, beating, and threats of disfigurement victimize women in a harrowing, sad and sordid underworld. Isabel Vincent braved rejection and frustration to unearth the stories of the prostitutes, some suicides, and their pimps, buried in Rio de Janeiro. An intrepid and determined investigator, Vincent researched the years from 1869 to 1939, when the Jewish mob controlled thousands of brothels in Rio, Buenos Aires, and New York. They trafficked in poor women and girls from Eastern European ghettos and shetls, duping them into sham marriages. In 1906, the women organized a burial society. They worked to establish a synagogue and observe the rituals that restored to the women a measure of self-respect.