Sex trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18. Sex Trafficking has been in existence from the beginning of time. As the popular saying goes “prostitution is the oldest crime from the beginning of history; exploitation of women sexually is the oldest crime from the beginning of history.” Sex trafficking in today’s society, with the accessibility of locating victims around the world because of the Internet, has caused for a drastic demand, thereby earning the crime its placement as the 2nd most profitable illicit business globally.
Sex Trafficking Statistics and Facts
In our attempt to truly understand this dilemma, we must delve into some sex trafficking statistics and facts. To date, there are over 32 million people enslaved around the world, and out of that number, 80% percent of the victims are forced into sexual servitude. In the United States it is estimated that 50-75,000 victims are trafficked into America for sexual servitude, and that is not factoring the 100,000-300,000 American children forced into prostitution under our noses. These sex trafficking statistics and facts show that this is not just a minor issue taking place.
Understanding Human and Sex Trafficking
If you want to truly understand sex trafficking, here are some things to consider:
First of all victims can be everywhere and anywhere. How do you determine who is a victim? Well, unfortunately, as seen in the film “Cargo: Innocence Lost,” many people won’t just come up to you and say, “Hey, I am a victim of sex trafficking, so please help me?” Therefore, you have to become perceptive.
Human and sex trafficking is everywhere, but most people don’t even realize it. Recently, I went into a Thai restaurant; inside, there were about five waiters. The one who took my order, just like the rest, never made eye contact with me; she spoke very softly while looking down all the time, and didn’t engage in conversation that I tried to start. Now, you can easily say, “Well, maybe she doesn’t understand English?” But what about when I tell you the entire staff was this way, including the one male waiter there. The man I assumed to be the manager was very stern; he looked at the actions of the staff not as an employer but as a slave master.
Granted they may not all understand English, but when I started asking questions such as “how long they have been in America?” “Do they like it?”” Where did they come from?” “Where do they like to go when they’re not working?” Suddenly, fear gripped their eyes and only came around to me to give me my take-out order and quickly dispersed afterwards. This was all very sketchy, and now a case around this location is burgeoning. Organized criminal syndicates bring in victims and employ them; however, they will use them. They put them in plain sight and abuse them in areas not noticeable to the public, which is why when victims of human and sex trafficking are recovered, it is not unusual to find bruises, cigarette burns, lacerations, etc., on their backs, legs, and stomachs. A victim works and sleeps in the restaurant, brothel, apartment or hotel; he or she is never allowed to leave and is charged fees for anything deemed incorrect by the owner, thereby crippling them and always having control over them. In some instances sex trafficking victims are able to leave their captors, but mental manipulation and fear is used by telling them that family members will be killed if they ever try to escape.
Every day we pass by victims of human and sex trafficking, but because we are on our cell phones, on our PDAs or focused on our own lives, we are not consciously living and breathing in the NOW moment; therefore, missing everything around us, even the chance to save someone’s life. You may not be aware of this, but the bulk of the cases where sex trafficking victims have been rescued have come in through the quiet observation of someone in the public noticing something out of the ordinary, thereby taking action and getting involved even if they didn’t necessarily know anything about this; they, however, were in tune with their intuition and knew that something certainly wasn’t right and made a phone call. Think about it: How often do you talk to the crew of people cleaning your office building or the landscaper or street vendors or the wait staff or bus boys or the hotel cleaning ladies? There have been rescued victims in America with all of these job titles I have mentioned. Why? Someone paid attention.
It’s no different than the person who drives past the massage parlor and sees it open at 3:00 a. m. advertising “Thai massage or Swedish massage for $39.99 open 24 hrs. a day” and does nothing about it until there is a raid and then says, “Hmmm, I always thought that was something fishy.” These are obvious places where criminal activity is happening, and you may say it’s just prostitution; however, it is a place where women and children are potentially brought through before they get to their final destination — this is what sex trafficking is. If that is not it … it is the place where people are being violently exploited and harnessed in your city, in your neighborhood, and along your drive home; it is your inaction that causes it to stay and grow exponentially. Sex trafficking is not just done by the people forcing people to work, but it is also the people looking the other way, playing the blind card.
Help Stop Sex Trafficking
If you want to help stop sex trafficking, here are some things you can do:
First, when you see these types of criminal activities happening, I am not telling you to become like Grissom on CSI and start your own investigation. Human and sex trafficking is a 9-27-billion-dollar- grossing industry, with major players of organized crime involved; so, you don’t want end up on the front page of a newspaper. You simply want to call the Dept. H.H.S trafficking hotline at 888-3737-888 to file an anonymous report. The more tips that are reported on human and sex trafficking, the more the task force or local police can build up a case or reason to start checking the location under suspicion.
Secondly, when places like these massage parlors open up, you can contact the business association groups in that community and inform them of what human and sex trafficking is and what it attracts. Educate them that by allowing this business in the neighborhood, they open the door to guns, drugs, and violent crime. It is a known fact that when businesses like this enter a community, the community itself suffers because a criminal element comes in and the money earned doesn’t go back into the community but into the coffers of the criminal syndicate to buy houses and other property in that neighborhood to keep their business thriving. So, unless you want to live next to a sex trafficker and have your kids play with their kids, it is time to open your eyes, ears, and do the simple things necessary to help stop human and sex trafficking.
Here are some of those things in the form of questions to ask?
Where are you from? Where do you like to go when you’re not working? Do you have a passport? Are you able to leave your job? In the case of sex trafficking, recruiting has become very intense, with pimps now actively hanging around schools, libraries, and places where children can be found. They are targeting children on MySpace and Craigslist under the theme of gigs, modeling, secretarial work, and adult services, thereby selling victims of sex trafficking through these scams.
Understanding Sex Trafficking
What is happening is the demand for sex, especially from young children, is so high that the suppliers need to keep their nest full, and they do this with sex trafficking. Now the same way kids are trafficked into America, traffickers have realized that American kids, especially white American kids, are a big commodity outside of America in countries where there are none. So the same way to get them in is now being used to get them out, and because no one is reporting human and sex trafficking on the news doesn’t mean it’s not happening. In the same way, more than 3000 kids in America go missing every day — and you don’t hear about it.
These same American kids who are victims of human and sex trafficking end up on pornographic Internet sites, brothels, nightclubs, etc., and they also become the pimps themselves, targeting your children as they don’t pose an obvious threat because they are one of them. This is how your little Johnny, Jenny, and Sally become victims of sex trafficking. They don’t tell you about every friend they have at school, on the bus or at the mall, which is why education and awareness is so important when it comes to your own children. You must inform them that they are being targeted not just by adults but also by their peers; moreover, there has been a monumental increase in children being used to pimp other children because this keeps the pimp’s/trafficker’s hands clean and the child is never usually suspected. And if sentenced, jail time is minimal, if any, because he/she is a minor. One of the ways traffickers work to recruit victims of sex trafficking is to use the desire for material items and validation as a way to lure kids in. There are so many children who believe they are not cool or not worth anything because they can’t compete with the Jones’ by not being able to wear the cool clothes, have the cool gadgets, or hang with the cool people, and pimps/traffickers use this by promising kids, offering kids, or simply giving them what they want until they become trusting enough to pull them away.
How One Person Can Stop Sex Trafficking
When talking to people about sex trafficking, I speak a lot about the power of one because I have witnessed this. I saw something one day that wasn’t right and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of the kids that I met who were shattered inside and broken from exploiters. I didn’t know what to do, but I left myself open and the answer came in the form of using my talent and special skills to make a difference in helping to stop sex trafficking to change a person’s life. From that, came two movies, thousands of lives changed, and awareness and education being spread.
We all individually have the power and the ability to make a positive difference in someone’s life, especially when dealing with sex trafficking. You don’t even have to ever leave your house half the time, considering that the Internet is so powerful and world-reaching. The talents you have inside of you are not just simple skills to let waste away, but they are the sweet fruits that you have been given on your journey to help others on theirs.
I am an actor and filmmaker, but it wasn’t until it became less about the job and the money that I started to find fulfillment in my talents. I realized that these talents, when utilized selflessly, help others to learn, heal, connect, aspire, and fulfill their dreams. In the same way, if you like to draw or work with your hands, you can use that talent to create items and donate them to organizations to give to victims of sex trafficking. When they are rescued (many times these victims have no idea that they have rights, and communicating is difficult with them because of language barriers; as such, artwork/goods are vehicles to aid in recovery efforts), you can teach art therapy classes, thus empowering victims and allowing them to regain confidence by building up their self-esteem and sense of expression. My point here is that we all can help others by using what we have, and I don’t necessarily even mean money, and, in turn, it will help you. The world works that way; you help someone and you are immediately helped. Are you ready to help?
If you would like to learn more about sex trafficking and how you can get involved or learn more about these victims’ true stories, click here.