Friday, June 1, 2012

The "Secret" Epidemic of Slavery in Our Country: Sex Trafficking

What is the first image that comes to your mind when you hear the words sex trafficking? Does your mind automatically conjure up an image of a woman from some other country on the other side of the world from you? Do you think of the young girls "patrolling" the streets attracting unknowing customers? Instead, does your mind create the image of the young woman down the street? How about that of your own daughter, or even yourself?

"It couldn't happen to me. I'm not that kind of girl."

"I don't put myself in a position to be one of those girls--for that kind of thing to happen to me."

"My daughter knows better than to talk to people like that. She knows better than to get mixed up with that kind of a crowd."

Many people think and say those very things when they hear the words sex trafficking, especially when it is brought to their attention that it is happening in America right now, as I write this. I will admit that I thought some of the same things myself when I first stumbled upon the topic. That was until I read about Shauna's story. At sixteen/seventeen years old, and just two days shy of getting her G.E.D., Shauna would become an unknowing victim of the sex industry.

Shauna Newell
Source: Yahoo Image Search

Shauna was your average, white, middle-class, American teenage girl. She got good grades in school, hardly every got into trouble, dressed appropriately, and stayed away from the "bad crowd" in and out of school. She never thought she was the "kind of girl" that something like that would ever happen to.

 "I always figured something like that could never happen to me because I was safe. I was always careful," Shauna Newell said in an interview. "I always thought that stuff like that only happen to people who were, like, putting themselves in that position, in that predicament. You know, like, girls who were floozies and girls who just took life for granted and I wasn't that kind of person, you know. I dressed respectably, I never showed my body off ever."

Then, Shauna met Jana, another seventeen year old girl, at school and the two became friends quickly. After being invited to her new friend's place for a sleep-over, Shauna tried very hard to get her mother to let her go. Her bargaining chip? Jana's "father" offered to meet Shauna's mother as reassurance. Despite her reservations about the man and Jana, Shauna's mother agreed to the sleep-over.

Just a few hours after leaving her mother's care for the weekend fun ahead, Shauna's world would be tipped upside-down. The man claiming to be Jana's father, probably her pimp in reality, was actually a convicted felon and Jana had a record of her own for prostitution. Her new friend had betrayed her and for the next three days Shauna would endure multiple rapes and beatings.

At one point, Shauna even overheard her captors talking about a deal that had been made with a man in Texas. She had been sold to him for $300,000 cash over the internet. The exchange never happened and after three days of torture, Shauna was rescued by her family. Shauna's captors have not been caught.

Source: Strollerderby
This story is not unique, however. Stories like Shauna's happen everyday. For example, several years ago in San Antonio, Texas a fourteen-year-old girl was kidnapped and taken several hours south to Corpus Christi. There, she was forced by her captor to work at a strip club--Club Cheetah--until she found an opportunity to escape. In a bizarre twist, the strip club actually tried to sue the young girl when they were fined for allowing her to work there. Seriously?! That just blows my mind to think about!

While drug dealing is still ranked the number one crime industry in the world, human trafficking--forced commercial sex and labor--is tied with arms dealing for second place. While most victims of human trafficking are forced into being strippers or prostitutes, it can also include victims who have been forced or tricked into domestic servitude, restaurant work, sweatshop factory work, migrant agricultural work, janitorial work and even construction work.

Source: womensstudiesjmu

There are approximately 2 million sex-trafficking victims just in the United States, with Florida, Texas, New York and California have the highest rates of sex-trafficking. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 14,000 to 20,000 victims of all nationalities are trafficked across United States borders annually. Many of the victims trafficked across the U.S. border are illegal immigrant minorities. They are, however, just a small part of the equation.

If you go to major cities you can see the signs of the sex industry. Strip clubs, massage parlors and working girls line certain parts of these cities. Most people pass these with little thought to what is going on. Customers of the industry give little thought to the girls involved.

What many people don't realize is that a good portion of those girls involved are not really willing participants. Many of those girls are underage, with some as young as 12--due to customer demands for younger and younger girls, which stem from their fears of contracting STDs--and have been kidnapped from their homes or schools, while many more are simply runaways who have been forced into the business.

Most Americans have the same beliefs about sex trafficking that Shauna had before it happened to her; that it simply doesn't happen here--not to innocent, teenaged American girls. These beliefs tend to get in the way of saving these young girls from the horrors they face in the sex trafficking trade.

Most missing teenaged girls are assumed to simply be runaways looking for attention. Once enough time has passed for the police to feel that the girl is not simply a runaway, it is usually too late to track down and save them. Some of these girls are lucky and escape or are rescued and reunited with their loved ones. Many of them, however, wind up slaves to the trafficking industry for the rest of their lives or worse, they end up dead.

This is a serious problem in our country--and all over the world--and yet almost no one ever hears about it. There is little awareness about the issue and because of this millions of young women in our country are suffering as slaves. In your very own communities in some cases, just right down the street from your home or place of work.
Source: Marc Herron

According to this National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) map, there are between 500 and 700 calls placed to their hotline from Oregon every day. This seems like a lot, but despite the high number of calls from Oregon, many more cases of sex trafficking are still not reported every day and many young girls continue to suffer in slavery.

Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans (OATH), a human trafficking community awareness organization, has a list of human trafficking indicators, questions to ask (if you are able to speak with the suspected victim), and numbers to call to ask for help or to leave tips on their website. Help spread awareness and save these young girls from tortures of slavery.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I enjoy reading feedback!! Even if I don't respond, I do read and rather enjoy the comments!! Thanks again for reading and have a bitchin' day!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

National Human Trafficking Hotline