The Human Condition-Part 1 of 3

This is part 1 of a 3 part blog series. The posting will not be back-to-back as I will be doing more research on this topic
The blog you are about to read is not just for ladies but men also. Ladies you need to share this with your husbands and boyfriends because they can help in ways we ladies can’t. Not that we ladies can’t help it’s just that in this case men can help without raising suspicions.
Today I am going to write about a topic that might make some of my readers uncomfortable. After reading an article on human trafficking and the very few calls that the hotline in Tennessee received I decide this was a topic that I wanted to write about.
If you’re like me my first thought was “There is no way people are being trafficked. I mean it’s 2013 people!”. The sad reality is that human trafficking is huge business in America. In fact it is so huge that it surpasses the sales of illegal arms at $32 billion dollars in revenue annually. Over fifty percent of the revenue coming from industrialized countries. The illicit trade of small arms averages a billion dollars a year.
To give you a number to compare this to, Bill Gates is worth $65 billion dollars.
Over  293,000 American children each year are trafficked yearly in the United States for sexual purposes. Forty percent of all human trafficking cases opened for investigation between January 2008 and June 2010 were for the sexual trafficking of a child. There are other forms of trafficking or as the FBI website called them “modern-day slaves”. These people are often beaten, starved, and forced to work as prostitutes or to take grueling jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay. When we go to work we expect certain things like getting paid, lunch breaks, some type of benefits and a safe work environment. Sadly this is not the case with the people who are trafficked. They endured daily beatings, starvation, lack of basic human comforts and worse. A lot of these people who are smuggled into the United States do not speak English which is a “benefit” to their captors but a hindrance to them.
 I wan to focus on the sex trafficking trade especially with children.
As a mom I cannot even comprehend what would even drive someone to even entertain the thought of having sex with a child. I mean the mere thought is reprehensible and revolting.
Most of the young women who are smuggled into the United States are from Central America and Asian countries. Not all victims are from those countries though. Victims from the United States are also involved especially girls who are runaways or come from dysfunctional homes.
Not all the victims are women and young girls. However, there are an increasing number of young males being forced into the commercial sex industry as well.
How do these people end up being trafficked? What do the traffickers do to these people? What is the average age of a person (especially of a female) being forced into sex trafficking. What happens when these people are “found” by the authorities? What happens to the traffickers IE what is the usual protocol to catch them and their punishments? What happens to the victims afterwards? Most importantly what can we do as citizens to help combat this problem
There are many ways that a person especially a woman can be ensnared in the sex trafficking trade. Some women are simply kidnapped and sold to a trafficker who in turns sells her to a pimp. Others are offered offers of legitimate and legal work as shop assistants or waitresses. Some are given offers of marriage, an education and a chance at a better life. Some are sold into trafficking by boyfriends, neighbors, friends and even their own parents.
Also pimps lure vulnerable young women by pretending to be their best friend/protector/boyfriend /Prince Charming all in one. However once these women are “caught”, the pimps are anything but a Prince Charming.
The victims are often passed along thru various “trade routes” winding up further and further from their home countries. An example would be Daryna from the Ukraine may be sold to a Gazanfer who is a trafficker in Turkey, who then passes her on to Phailin who is a trafficker in Thailand. Along the way she becomes confused and disoriented. Along the way her passport and documents are taken from her and she is told she is in the country illegally causing her to be even more dependent on her captors.
Often these victims are often kept in captivity and also trapped into debt bondage. Victims also report being charged additional fines or fees while under bondage, requiring them to work longer to pay off their debts.
Traffickers also use the threat of hurting the victim’s family and/or children if they do not cooperate. They also physically tortured, starved, locked into closets, drugged and raped into submission.
Some women are drugged so they do not escape and are forced to “serve” up to thirty men a day.
“Children exploited through prostitution report they typically are given a quota by their trafficker/pimp of 10 to 15 buyers per night. Utilizing a conservative estimate, a domestic minor sex trafficking victim would be raped by 6,000 buyers during the course of her victimization through prostitution. “
Prostituted Children, Shared Hope International, May 2009, page 20.
So what happens when the victim is found?
One is to arrest and deport the victim. Seriously like this will freaking help!! Why is this even considered as an option? The reason is that prosecutors don’t want to take on the difficult challenge of prosecuting a trafficker when they can win the easier charges of prosecuting the victim for prostitution, document fraud, or immigration & labor violations.
Second is to jail the offender. Good in theory but not in thought. Often governments offer protection to the victim and allow them to temporarily stay in the country, on the condition that they testify against their traffickers.
In the U.S., the TVPA (Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act) allows for the provision of temporary visas (T-visas) to victims of human trafficking, with a possibility of permanent residency.  However, they only offer 5,000 of these each year, regardless of how many human trafficking cases come forth.  In 2010 only 213 T visas were granted.  The 2010 TIP Report claims that testimony against the trafficker, conviction of the trafficker, or formal denunciation of the trafficker is not required in order to be eligible for a T visa. However, the report immediately follows this by stating “however, such support counts in an applicant’s favor.” In other words, chances are victims will not get a T visa unless they are willing to testify.  This reveals the TVPA to be about prosecution, though they claim to focus on victim protection. So unless the victims are willing to testify they are not offered asylum in the U.S.
Okay so the “bad guy “ gets arrested and everyone is happy right? Not so fast folks. Basically these jerks get a slap on the wrist if anything. A man in Austria , guilty of human trafficking, bodily harm, rape, forced abortion, forgery, and damage to property received only 8 years in prison, though two victims had enough courage to come forward. EIGHT years people is all he got!! Depending on the country is how many years the trafficker will serve in prison:  2-15 years (Czech Republic) to “up to 10 years” (Austria, Korea) to 13-23 years (Colombia) to 12-25 years (Australia) to a maximum of life imprisonment (Nigeria).
http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2011/164221.htm explains how each country is measured as far as tier levels much better than I ever could.
 What happens to the victims afterwards? These victims are going to need numerous things like psychological and social services, temporary employment, legal services, safe houses, and protection during the prosecution of their traffickers. They are also going to need basic things like clothing, personal items, education and medical care. These are things that help the victim go from “abused” to “triumphant”.
 What can we do to help combat this problem? The easiest is to contact our Senators and Congressional Representatives. Let them know that we need tougher laws against human trafficking of any sort. Also support local law enforcement in their fight against this problem.  Be a responsible consumer, there are many companies who work with victims of the sex trafficking industry to give them better lives. Last but not least educate yourself on this problem and share what you learn. Like the old saying goes “Knowledge is power” and the more knowledge we have the more powerful we can be.
(The facts and figures used in this posting came from numerous websites including newspapers, televisions. governmental websites. A complete list will be available upon request after the third blog is posted. This will be an extensive list)
Until next time…

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