Between 100,000 and 300,000 young people in the U.S. are at risk for human trafficking each year and the average age of entry is between 12 and 14 years old.
Though statistics regarding human trafficking are relatively new, it is known as a widespread crime affecting children, men and women around the world, said Camila Wright, assistant attorney general in Georgia, at an annual conference held Friday by the Lowcountry Coalition Against Human Trafficking on Hilton Head Island.
Trafficking of children is the most common human trafficking crime in the region, primarily because it is the focus of most law enforcement agencies. But it is a crime that’s not easy to find on the surface, Wright said.
“When you look for trafficking, you find it. When you expend the resources, you find it,” Wright said.
Earlier this month, 23-year-old Kristopher Block of Richland County pleaded guilty to human trafficking of a minor after he was found taking photos of the victim and advertising her for sale on the Internet. It was the third conviction under South Carolina’s 2012 revised human trafficking law, according to the attorney general’s office.
While steps have been taken to make it easier to fight human trafficking, organizations like the Hilton Head-based Lowcountry Coalition Against Human Trafficking are dedicated to the ongoing effort of raising awareness.
Formed in 2010, the coalition includes a network of organizations, including medical groups, law enforcement, nonprofits, media and concerned citizens. Each year, it hosts the conference as one of two large awareness events, in addition to multiple presentations at schools, churches, nonprofits and civic organizations.
About 1.7 million children run away from home each year, about one-third of whom are approached for commercial exploitation, Wright said.
Human trafficking also includes the exploitation of labor and migrant workers.
Wright said the best way for the public and nonprofits to assist the fight is to support law enforcement and provide advocacy, after care and education.
Informed citizens can help incite change. Wright cited a citizen who recently approached the mayor in Savannah to request specialized human trafficking training for officers. Wright’s office was solicited to provide that training.
“Within three weeks they had identified seven cases that were open for investigation,” Wright said.
Participants in Friday’s conference spent the morning learning about trafficking on global, regional and state levels. In the afternoon, they split up into workshops focusing on law enforcement, labor and migrant workers, clergy and the Internet and social media, and participated in a survivor’s panel discussion.
Other speakers included Robert Bilheimer, president of Worldwide Documentaries and director of “Not My Life;” Marie Sazehn, assistant attorney general for South Carolina; and Michael Barker, owner of C4 Group, Inc., a private detective agency.
It is one of those things people just do not often talk about. I was invited to a luncheon for a women’s group. The speaker, LaNora Purvis introduced the entire assembly in an unforgettable manner to the terror of human trafficking. Her presentation quite frankly horrified me! Purvis is active in the pursuit of human traffickers with law enforcement assistance; she has found and rescued many trafficked victims. She led us to the girl in this story. Purvis is also founder of Heaven’s Army, a safe home for victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence. It is a place that allows them to heal and try to readjust to mainstream society. She is located in the suburbs of Houston, TX, which is currently one of the two largest hubs for human trafficking in the United States.
“Violence and abuse is a community issue. Parents need to educate themselves and be more involved in their children’s day-to-day activities, social networking, especially. Our society is helping groom our children to become prey! Violence and abuse have become an epidemic that is effecting everyone and in order to prevent this injustice from continuing we must shine a light on it! I’m committed to driving the reality of abuse into the conscience of society. However, effective laws and their uncompromising enforcement play a significant role in preserving freedom for society and its citizens. We all need to be committed to advocating for the formation and implementation of such laws,” said Purvis.
I must admit that she is good to her word, her presentation hit me hard that day.
Now, I am going to do my best to do the same for you. I am going to tell you a true story.
A fourteen-year-old girl, smart, underdeveloped, but pretty in a fourteen-year-old kind of way. We’ll call her Ella for the purpose of our story. Her parents are professionals, both successful and incredibly busy. Ella lives in an upscale neighborhood in the heart of Texas. She has all the latest gadgets and a few good friends but no siblings, no responsibilities, and very little supervision. She begins to assuage her loneliness online in chat rooms. Ella knows it’s dangerous, she has been warned! She knows all the stories (like this one), and is aware that her actions can lead to trouble and eventually that trouble finds her.
She meets her fifteen year old “online lover” (who is in actuality a 40-something year old pedophile who routinely sells to traffickers) at a strip center not too far from her home and her parents do not see her again for seven months. When they find her she is lying in the fetal position, all but naked on a dirty mattress in a filthy warehouse in Houston, TX. She has human bite marks, deep and infected from her waist up, her genitalia are a bloody pulp, as is her face, and she is carrying 49 sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). She has a raging fever, left alone to die. She cannot recall the number of men who have used her. She will never have children, she is in shock and cannot speak, she is addicted to heroin, and very lucky they just walked away, instead of killing her when she was no longer useful to them.
Her young body healed, but her heroin addiction and her broken spirit were more difficult to assess and approach. She trusted no one and lived in a spirit of fear. Her parents were determined to save her, they had never stopped looking for her and were instrumental in finding her. They would not stop seeking resources to help her. Of course, we as Americans are all looking for that “silver bullet,” that instant gratification, instant fix that we have grown to expect as a part of our birthright. There would be no silver bullet for Ella.
As a last resort, her parents enrolled her in a treatment center for survivors of human trafficking and less than a year later, she was gone again. This time Purvis’ company was hired to find her. Ella was gone only 17 days before they found her and required two weeks in the hospital recuperating. There is evidence that points to the treatment center possibly recycling the victims, it is currently under investigation.
The personal and psychological toll on any victim of sexual trafficking is immeasurable. Trafficked victims that have been “broken” are used to recruit “new blood” and over 71% of trafficked children have suicidal tendencies.
How could this happen? The human trafficking industry is more profitable today than the drug trafficking trade. It is far more lucrative. Eighty percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, and some are young, very, very young! Ludwig “Tarzan” Fainberg, a convicted trafficker, said, “You can buy a woman for $10,000 and make your money back in a week if she is pretty and young. Then everything else is profit.”
One reason for the spread of sex trafficking is because in many parts of the world men do not think it is wrong to pay for sex. Prostitution is viewed as a victimless crime. That is just not the case. In Western society in particular, it is believed that women choose to enter into the commercial sex trade. However, the majority are coerced or forced into servitude.
Equality Now says, “A holistic and comprehensive strategy is needed to combat sex trafficking effectively. Demand fuels sex trafficking and the commercial sex industry. Holding “buyers” of commercial sex accountable reduces sex trafficking. Sweden, Norway, and Iceland have effectively addressed the demand for commercial sex and sex trafficking by decriminalizing prostituted persons, and criminalizing those who purchase sex. As a result, street prostitution and sex trafficking have decreased.”
Countries that neglect to focus on the demand that fuels sex trafficking, or have legalized the commercial sex industry, have witnessed increased prostitution and greater numbers of trafficked women and girls to fulfill an influx of international sex tourists as well as increased demand locally.
It is widely known that sex traffickers often train the helpless girls themselves, breaking them for profit. They rape them, beat them, and teach them sex acts. A human trafficker can earn 20 times what he or she paid for a girl. Provided the girl was not physically brutalized to the point of ruining her beauty, the pimp once he has made his money back can re-sell her again for a greater price because she is trained and broken, which saves future buyers the hassle.
The US Department of State issues a Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report each year. They say, “Modern slavery doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s connected to a host of 21st century challenges.” The most disturbing fact are the stats at the back of the report. Victims Identified in 2014 Human Trafficking were 11,438, of those 418 were prosecuted and only 216 were convicted.
“Today, more than twelve million people worldwide are enslaved. An estimated two million children are bought and sold in the global commercial sex trade. The sex slavery industry has become an increasingly important revenue source for organized crime because each young girl can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for her pimp. Americans don’t realize that it happens here at home! Thousands of children are forced into domestic sex slavery each year and that the average age of entry is 13 years old. These girls are our neighbors, our friends, our sisters and our daughters,” according to the Department of Families and Children website.
This is not something that is just happening somewhere vaguely “over there.” It is happening here …right here where you are standing! Where your daughters and sons go to college, where your grandchildren play. The world is a smaller place today and while we have brought the wonders of the world into our living room, we have also brought its poisons; and we have brought it to our children.
So how can we protect our children? Do you think tougher laws need to enacted or more involvement from the private sector? We love to hear your thoughts!Uncategorized Dec 22
CUMMING, Ga. (WXIA) — When a Forsyth County woman put an ad on Craigslist asking for someone to give her a baby, she apparently attracted black market baby sellers, too.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s office has asked Homeland Security to step-in to help track down the people who tried to sell babies to the woman. They can be charged with human trafficking.
In the Forsyth County case, authorities Elaine Williams, 47, posted an ad on Craigslist saying she would “provide a loving home for unwanted newborns,” and asked for a birth certificate and health record in an effort to get a baby for her 14-year-old daughter.
Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said the ad attracted those who had a different proposition.
“People that contacted them wanted money for their babies,” said Piper.
“It doesn’t surprise us because we have many adults and parents who are selling their children every day,” said Angela Sanders, Program Director for Georgia Cares which works with child victims of sexual exploitation, but knows that some underground sex trafficking business also involves babies.
“It’s all in what the buyer wants, and as long as they have the money, they can usually get it,” said Sanders.
No one seems to know how many babies are sold on the black market.
In her book, Human Trafficking, author Louise Shelly says, “human traffickers are increasingly trafficking pregnant women for their newborns.”
“I think a lot of people not only are not aware, they don’t want to be aware. It’s something a lot of people might think is happening in other countries, but not in their neighborhood,” said Sanders.
How can the public help?
Sanders said people should report anything suspicious.
Forsyth County authorities found out about the ad on Craigslist requesting a baby because someone in the community contacted them.Posted in Uncategorized Dec 14
During this holiday season, we see pictures of happy, laughing children wherever we look. Unfortunately, not all children get to enjoy the holidays. When you’re a victim of sexual exploitation, and human trafficking there is little time for joy.
BSCC, Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition assists victims of these crimes in the San Diego region, men, women and children are exploited every day
Your support will help us maintain our services and shelters for victims of labor and sexual exploitation. Your tax deductible donation will provide shelter, food and clothing for these victims. Thank you in advance for your generous donation.
Have a wonderful holiday season.
J.W. August Marisa Ugarte
President, Board of Directors Executive Director
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New study provides first clinical evidence on the serious toll human trafficking has on mental healthDec 04
A new study by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London provides the first clinical evidence on the toll human trafficking has on mental health, including high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, amongst a patient population in South London.
Human trafficking is the recruitment and movement of people, by means such as deception and coercion, for the purposes of exploitation. The UK Home Office has estimated that in 2013 there were between 10,000 and 13,000 trafficked people in the UK, including people trafficked for forced sex work, domestic servitude, and labour exploitation in a multitude of industries, including agriculture, construction, and food packaging and processing. This study, published today in The Lancet Psychiatry, is the first to examine clinical and sociodemographic characteristics of trafficked people who have severe mental illness.
The researchers first identified 133 trafficked people, including 37 children, who were in contact with secondary mental health services at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), and compared them to a randomly selected sample of non-trafficked patients. They used an innovative text-mining tool, the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) application, to extract data on socio-demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as history of abuse.
The King’s research team found that 51 per cent of trafficked patients had been trafficked for sexual exploitation. Among adults and children the most commonly recorded diagnoses were PTSD (39 per cent in adults and 27 per cent in children) and depression (34 per cent and 27 per cent respectively). In addition 15 per cent of the patients had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
These medical records documented high rates of prior childhood abuse among trafficked adults (43 per cent) and children (76 per cent). Among trafficked adults, medical records also documented high levels of adulthood abuse before, during, and after trafficking (60 per cent), including domestic violence and sexual assault after trafficking.
Dr Siân Oram, Lecturer in Women’s Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, said: ‘Research on the mental health needs of trafficked people is extremely limited and only based on evidence from those in contact with shelter services. Our study shows that mental health services are caring for trafficked people with a range of diagnoses, including PTSD, depression and schizophrenia.
‘The complex needs of this vulnerable group – many of whom will be far from home, cut off from their families and disadvantaged in their access to education, social activities and physical healthcare – must be taken into consideration when assessing patient risk and planning therapeutic interventions.’
Dr Oram added: ‘Although interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) exist for PTSD and depression, further research is required to assess their effectiveness in promoting the recovery of trafficked people.
‘It is also very important that mental health professionals are aware of indicators of possible trafficking and how to respond appropriately to suspicions or disclosures of this extremely serious form of abuse.’
Published on October 19, 2015 at 6:09 am Source: King’s College LondonPosted in Uncategorized