Human Trafficking Notes

Who are the victims of domestic sex trafficking?

An estimated 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry annually. Traffickers coerce women and children to enter the commercial sex industry through the use of a variety of recruitment and control mechanisms in strip clubs, prostitution,and brothels. Domestic sex traffickers (“pimps”) target vulnerable young girls, such as runaway, homeless, and foster-care children. The pimp seduces a new recruit with the lure of love, protection, wealth, designer clothes, fancy cars, and exclusive nightclubs. Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims including starvation, confinement, physical abuse, rape, threats of violence to the victims and the victims’ families, forced drug use and the threat of shaming their victims by revealing their activities to their family and their families’ friends after recruitment.  According to the United Nations $32 billion is made annually in the human trafficking trade, making it one of the most lucrative and fastest growing crimes globally.  In Chicago alone an estimated minimum of 16,000 – 25,000 women and girls are victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Chicago every year.

What is the average age of entry into prostitution?

The average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14 years old in the U.S., according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. A minor involved in trafficking has a lifespan of 7-10 years.  One reason that most girls end up working in prostitution is because many were victims of incest. Incest and other forms of abuse often drive a child to run away from home and become vulnerable to the slick tactics of pimps and other predators. One victim described the transition into prostitution, “I felt like, after having been abused at home, I had been trained for this all of my life.”

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Twenty years ago, women in my rural, Christian women’s groups passionately discussed breastfeeding, spanking, homeschooling, working outside of the home, immunizations, red dye, and other trending topics in child-rearing. Today, however, the conversations in our mid-Western, Christian women’s groups have changed.  Less frequently are Christian moms criticizing other moms while feeling superior for individual parenting choices in what is now called the “mommy wars.” Instead of focusing on personal choices made when parenting children, Christian women’s groups are learning about an issue that is alarming and frightening, but not critical of parenting styles or threatening to their own child’s well-being.  Christian moms today are not debating the pros and cons of cloth diapers or gluten-free foods.  These days, Christian moms are talking about human trafficking and what can be done to stop it.

 

In today’s Christian, women’s groups, it is common to learn of headlines like this:

Tens of thousands of Moldovan women are estimated to have fallen victim to human trafficking. Most victims come from rural areas, where economic hardships and ignorance turn young girls into easy prey for traffickers. (1)

Guest speakers, videos, and missionaries share stories like the following:

There is a steady supply of trafficked girl victims coming out of the villages in rural Central America.   The pueblo girls are from extremely poor families.  Young women “coyotes” posing as recruiters scout them.  The coyotes promise well-paying jobs in faraway cities.  Offers of employment as resort hotel maids are common.

Understandably, families with few resources are tempted by what seems to them the potentially large sums of money their daughters could send home during a presumed short stay away from the village. 

The coyotes travel throughout Central America looking for a fresh trafficking prey each month. Often they are accompanied by a “mark.”  The mark is a convincing woman who claims to have succeeded as a result of recruitment into the resort business and may even speak the local Amerindian dialect or close to it. 

The coyote and the mark promise families their daughters will send money home weekly and that visas and housing will be provided.

Once out of view of the village, the coyotes hand the girls over to representatives of the human trafficking crime network.

The Central American human trafficking crime network locks them into a world of sex slavery – often and easily across borders.  A bribing system for low level immigration guards and their immediate bosses eases sex trafficking of these young victims. (2)

We are beginning to gain understanding about this global problem.  We’re learning the statistics and know this is happening in Thailand, the Philippines, and places around the globe.  We hear that human trafficking happens in Atlanta, Chicago, and large cities across our own nation.  We know prostitution is an issue even in our own localities and try to offer grace, and not point fingers. Usually to most of us, human trafficking doesn’t have a face or a name or a personal connection.  It’s scary. It’s horrible. But it’s not a threat to us or our children.  We may become involved in the cause, we may raise awareness, call politicians, raise funds, or even travel to far-away lands to volunteer.  We purchase products made by rescued women, wear the bracelets, duct tape our mouths, write a red X on our hands, and donate bras to “Free the Girls” but we don’t generally associate with the victims.  We generally feel safe in the mindset that it is not happening here.  Not in our area.  Not in our backyard.

 

Midwestern, Christian women have heard stories about girls being trafficked from rural India or South America.  There, girls from small villages are given to pimps in exchange for a bag of rice and a promise of a better future in the city, but we don’t even begin to imagine that our rural girls are at risk here in America.  Run-a-ways in New York, drug addicts in Atlanta, the desperate in Chicago—those are the kids who are at risk, right?  We have a lot to learn.

The “not in my back yard” mentality is a boon to human traffickers, as many are choosing to move their business beyond big cities into unsuspecting rural communities with fewer resources to deal with the problem. This was the theme of a recent webinar by ICMA’s Center for Public Safety Management featuring the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“Traffickers like to work underground,” explained presenter Scott Santoro, training program manager at the Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. “They don’t necessarily want to work in big cities. They are drawn to small towns … because they feel like they won’t get caught. So areas that have a lot of agricultural farming, areas that have not a lot of law enforcement on patrol…those are areas are breeding grounds [for this crime]. (3)

 

Though numbers for suburban and rural Illinois aren’t available, Illinois officials estimate that in Chicago between 16,000 and 25,000 American women and girls are victims of sexual trafficking each year.   Illinois ranks fifth in number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. “Sadly, human trafficking does exist in Illinois, in our communities all over the state,” says Grace Hou, assistant secretary with the Illinois Department of Human Services. “We know the facts are not pleasant, but the more we know, the faster we can bring an end to this crime.”  (4)

 

  1. Radio Free Europe By Eugen Tomiuc October 06, 2004 http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1055188.html

2 . http://www.takenwomen.webs.com/traffickingsystemhow.htm

3.http://icma.org/en/icma/newsroom/highlights/Article/103504/Human_Traffickers_Drawn_to_Small_Towns_Rural_Communities

  1. http://illinoistimes.com/article-8606-springfield-urged-to-watch-for-human-trafficking.html

April 28, 2011

http://icma.org/en/icma/newsroom/highlights/Article/103504/Human_Traffickers_Drawn_to_Small_Towns_Rural_Communities

 

Human Traffickers Drawn to Small Towns, Rural Communities

Courtesy U.S. Department of Homeland Security

A poster from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, a public awareness program designed to stop human trafficking.

July 11, 2013

The “not in my back yard” mentality is a boon to human traffickers, as many are choosing to move their business beyond big cities into unsuspecting rural communities with fewer resources to deal with the problem. This was the theme of a recent webinar by ICMA’s Center for Public Safety Management featuring the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“Traffickers like to work underground,” explained presenter Scott Santoro, training program manager at the Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. “They don’t necessarily want to work in big cities. They are drawn to small towns … because they feel like they won’t get caught. So areas that have a lot of agricultural farming, areas that have not a lot of law enforcement on patrol…those are areas that are also breeding grounds. Traffickers know that and they want to do some of their work there.”

The word “trafficking” is misleading, he explained. There isn’t necessarily movement across borders, but an extreme level of manipulation that traps people into situations. Human trafficking can take the form of forced labor or commercial sex. The majority of U.S. victims are trafficked for commercial sex. The average age of victims is 12-13 years for girls and 13-14 years for boys. For this reason, school officials, first responders, and even service delivery personnel need to know how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

In this webinar, Santoro and DHS special agent Dave Meadows dispelled the myths of human trafficking, shared a case study from Illinois, and discussed the department’s Blue Campaign, which offers free resources and training materials to local governments. A key mission of the Blue Campaign is to educate first responders, school officials, and anyone serving the public, to identify and report suspected incidences of human trafficking.

Learn more about this ICMA webinar, which is available on demand.

 

http://illinoistimes.com/article-8606-springfield-urged-to-watch-for-human-trafficking.html

April 28, 2011

State officials and local social service providers can’t say how big of a problem human trafficking is for Springfield but they’re still encouraging local residents to keep their eyes open. Interstate 55 is known as a “beltway” for trafficking of any kind and sex trafficking has been found in much smaller cities, like Harrisburg, Pa., where a 2005 sting revealed a major interstate operation. Victims of human trafficking, the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry worldwide, are often manipulated or coerced into sexual exploitation or involuntary servitude. They range in age, are both male and female, and include both U.S. citizens and foreigners transported to the country under force or fraudulent circumstances. “It’s a matter of being able to recognize that this is going on and being able to report and do something about it,” says Michael Lelys, executive director of the Springfield Community Federation. The federation, along with the six-year-old Illinois Rescue and Restore campaign and the University of Illinois’ Center for Public Safety and Justice, last week hosted a human trafficking outreach program for area social service providers. Though numbers for suburban and rural Illinois aren’t available, Illinois officials estimate that in Chicago between 16,000 and 25,000 American women and girls are victims of sexual exploitation each year, and Illinois ranks fifth in number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, which can be reached at all hours at 888-373-7888. “Sadly, human trafficking does exist in Illinois, in our communities all over the state,” says Grace Hou, assistant secretary with the Illinois Department of Human Services. “We know the facts are not pleasant, but the more we know, the faster we can bring an end to this crime.” Hou and other advocates ask that everyone “look beneath the surface” in order to snuff out human trafficking. “Trafficking victims come from all walks of life,” says Lisa Fedina, project coordinator for Illinois Rescue and Restore, a statewide campaign run by the Department of Human Services and aimed at educating and mobilizing people to spot and stop human trafficking. “Really there is no discrimination in the sense of who trafficking victims are. Traffickers prey on vulnerability, so those individuals could be coming from circumstances of poverty, past histories of abuses or general lack of awareness of human trafficking. Especially for youth, runaway, throwaway, homeless youth are often targeted by traffickers.” Signs of human trafficking victimization can include not having identification or travel documents, living and working in the same place, physical signs of abuse, behaving in a fearful or submissive manner and lacking basic knowledge about the community in which a person is located. Chrystina Diedrich is a Springfield resident and administrative assistant with the Center for Economic Progress, a national nonprofit with a local office that provides support to low-income individuals. She says she recalls bruised and hungry young boys, one of whom couldn’t speak English, once knocking on her door. They told her that they and several others were being housed in a local motel and had been dropped off in the neighborhood to sell subscriptions. “In afterthought, that [human trafficking] is probably what it was,” she says, contemplating what she would have done had she known then what she knows now. “I would do the same I did before, which was bring them in the house and offer them something to eat, but at the time, I would have also called the (hotline) number. I don’t know where it would have gone from there, but I would have at least outreached.” For more information about human trafficking, visit www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.

 

 

 

 

Traffickers prey on people with little or no social safety net. They look for people who are vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including economic hardship, violence in the home, natural disasters, or political instability.  Traffickers use a variety of strategies to trap victims, including violence or threats of violence, as well as psychological coercion.  The trauma can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

 

http://qctimes.com/news/local/iowa-mom-warns-of-sex-trafficking/article_ac4f6052-2fa2-11e2-8a06-0019bb2963f4.html

McVey said sex trafficking exists in Iowa.

“We’re a rural state, a mind-your-own business state,” he said. “We’re the perfect place for sex slavery because we don’t think it exists.”

Maggie Tinsman, former Iowa state senator who also spoke at the conference, pointed to a recent police discovery of a prostitution ring in Muscatine as one sign that sex trafficking exists in the Quad-City area.

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Service providers characterize childhood sexual abuse as the key experience “setting the stage for Native girls’ entry into the sex trade.”43   43. Pierce, supra note 17, at 60–61. Advocates attending roundtables organized by MIWRC for the Shattered Hearts report, service providers in Washington state, and Alaska investigators have all reported that most, if not all, Native trafficking victims they encounter have a history of childhood sexual abuse. Id; see also Washington Report, supra note 15, at 55–56 (recounting a Washington state service provider’s interaction with a trafficking victim whose stepfather abused her); DeMarban, supra note 14, at 1 (stating that some girls who have suffered sexual and domestic abuse may not see themselves as victims).

 

Runaway/Homeless Many American Indian women and girls trafficked into prostitution ran away from home and were homeless as a result of abuse, neglect, family substance abuse, or lack of opportunity on impoverished reservations. Suzanne Koepplinger, Executive Director of MIWRC, writes that she sees high numbers of young Native females who are homeless or runaway youth who report exchanging sex for shelter, food, or drugs—what is known as “survival sex.”70 Local police and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents in Anchorage, Alaska, report seeing increasing numbers of rural Alaska Native girls and women running away from their families and villages for Anchorage in search of better opportunities “only to be lured into prostitution by pimps who see young Native runaways as especially easy prey.”71 Running away and homelessness are common in American Indian communities. The 2007 Minnesota Student Survey found that 27% of American Indian 12th grade girls reported having run away at least once in the previous year versus 8% of all girls.72 American Indians also represent 28% of unaccompanied homeless youth in rural Minnesota and 12% in Minneapolis/St. Paul, although they are only 2% of Minnesota’s youth population.73 Given national statistics estimating that once in the street, one third of runaway children will have some involvement with prostitution or pornography,74 American Indian women and girls are at a much higher risk of becoming sex trafficking victims. Print this pageEmail this page

 

 

 

Prostitution: Not a victimless crime

The public often perceives prostitution as a victimless crime. The truth is that prostituted women experience rates of post-traumatic stress similar to that of combat war veterans, Johnson said. “Most women involved in prostitution have experienced routine physical and emotional abuse, theft and sexual assault. Most women involved in prostitution do not believe they will be treated fairly by our court system and do not report the crimes against them.”

Another persistent myth is that women and girls choose to be prostitutes. A 2008 Chicago study of 100 women up to age 25 found their average age for entering prostitution was 15. “Girls this young often exchange sex for clothes, shelter or food in order to survive,” Johnson said. Many are runaways from either dysfunctional homes or foster care. “Pimps and traffickers look for people to recruit into the sex trade who have few, if any, meaningful choices in life.”

Another myth is that prostitutes make a lot of money. According to the Chicago study, 53 percent of prostituted women said they had to give all their money to a pimp. Many said they could not leave prostitution because they feared retribution from their pimps.

“It’s an equal opportunity oppressor,” Johnson said, noting that the sex trade may look different in urban versus rural environments, yet happens just as frequently in both.

 

 

Ultimately, prevention is the key, and it begins with improving conditions for all women throughout the world. “Prevention of trafficking must incorporate economic alternatives for women in the source countries,” concludes the CIA report. “Poverty and high unemployment rates pose hardships on women. Women who have jobs must contend with sexual harassment in the workplace. It is this destitution and discrimination that make women especially vulnerable to traffickers’ false promises of good jobs abroad.” http://inthesetimes.com/issue/25/03/crouse2503.html

 

They are not forced into modern slavery: they are fooled.

There is a steady supply of trafficked girl victims coming out of the villages in rural Central America.   The pueblo girls are from extremely poor families.  Young women “coyotes” posing as recruiters scout them.  The coyotes promise well-paying jobs in faraway cities.  Offers of employment as resort hotel maids are common.

Understandably, families with few resources are tempted by what seems to them the potentially large sums of money their daughters could send home during a presumed short stay away from the village.

The coyotes travel throughout Central America looking for a fresh trafficking prey each month. Often they are accompanied by a “mark.”  The mark is a convincing woman who claims to have succeeded as a result of recruitment into the resort business and may even speak the local Amerindian dialect or close to it.

The coyote and the mark promise families their daughters will send money home weekly and that visas and housing will be provided.

Once out of view of the village, the coyotes hand the girls over to representatives of the human trafficking crime network.

The Central American human trafficking crime network locks them into a world of sex slavery – often and easily across borders.  A bribing system for low level immigration guards and their immediate bosses eases sex trafficking of these young victims.

2 . http://www.takenwomen.webs.com/traffickingsystemhow.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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