But not in the form that may first come to mind.
A couple of centuries ago, slavery consisted of capturing innocent people from different countries, shoving them onto a boat, and shipping them to a foreign land where they were forced to labor for free. These people were stripped of all former titles, punished for pleasure, purchased as property.
In 2016, the same form of slavery is still alive and well.
Sex trafficking statistics within the United States has been increasing at an alarming rate, and no child or adult is excluded from its risks.
According to equalitynow.org, at least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. Reports to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center have increased by 259 percent in the past couple of years, and these reports are only based on calls. This is only a fraction of these cases; the majority go unreported and unnoticed.
In the U.S., the average age of sex trafficking victims are between the ages of 12 and 14. They are stolen, drugged, and forced into the business as innocent children. Roughly 100,000 of these child victims are sold into sex trafficking every year, right here in our home country.
In the past couple of decades, the state with the most reported sex trafficking cases was California. But now, the highest statistics have moved to a city: Atlanta, Georgia. Out of the cases that were reported last year, 3,500 came from this here.
According to a 2014 study by the Urban Institute, some traffickers in Atlanta make more than $32,000 a week. They bring their victims there because of high demands and even higher pay.
Recruitment for this industry happens in several different ways. Some women began as hookers and fall into the threat of complete compliance from their pimps. Most cases begin socially through a friend, with homeless shelters, rehab facilities, and foster homes as the next most common places for recruitment. (alternet.org)
Kidnapping also plays a major role in this trade, especially for underage children. There have been reports of kids being drugged in bathrooms and dressing rooms to be carried out of the store by other teens who claim that the child is their "drunk friend". Children are also blatantly plucked from public places by being threatened and compelled to follow their kidnapper. Younger children are often lured away from their families by other children who work for recruiters. Parents don't often think that their children playing with another child in a store is much of a threat, but they might want to start thinking twice.
After recruitment, victims are stripped of their freedom and held against their will with violence, torture, exploitation, forced drug addiction and even brain washing. They are sold to different companies or individuals to perform sexual acts to them and for them, and some are often sold over-seas. Many sex trafficking victims are forced to perform pornographic acts that are filmed or photographed for trade, including children. Often times, they are pumped full of drugs in order to increase compliance. If compliance does not happen, they are beaten and threatened until full submission occurs.
As a result, many victims contract sexually transmitted diseases, become pregnant and are forced to have abortions, fall mentally ill due to abuse and torture, and/or form addictions to the drugs that they are given. This can make the rescue of victims a very painful and difficult process, both for them and their loved ones. For some, the mistreatment is too great, resulting in roughly 30,000 deaths in the industry worldwide.
Luckily, our government has taken action, and you can, too.
- Section 7202 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 :"established the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center. The Center will achieve greater integration and overall effectiveness in the U.S. Government's enforcement and other response efforts, and work with other governments to address the separate but related issues of alien smuggling, trafficking in persons, and criminal support of clandestine terrorist travel. Migrant smuggling, clandestine terrorist travel and trafficking in persons are transnational issues that threaten national security."
- National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1 (888) 373-7888 SMS: 233733 (Text "HELP" or "INFO") Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week Languages: English, Spanish and 200 more languages Website: traffickingresourcecenter.org.
- National Safe Place: "provides access to immediate help and supportive resources for youth in need. As a community initiative, the program designates schools, fire stations, libraries, and other youth-friendly organizations as Safe Place locations, which display the yellow and black sign. Safe Place locations extend the doors of the local youth service agency or shelter to support teens in crisis situations, creating a safety net for youth.(nationalsafeplace.org)
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