The terms "Human Trafficking" and "Sex Trafficking" conjure up a number of different images depending upon your geographic location, culture, or interest. Envision for a moment the bazaar where children are being bought and sold, for the use of others -- child slavery would also be an apropos term, and if you want to sugarcoat it you could use the term child exploitation.
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 was enacted. Within this act the term sex trafficking of a minor was defined as "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age" (22 USC § 7102)."
The year is 2015. What has transpired in 15 years, and the hundreds of children who were 12 in 2000 and are 27 today? Yet child sex trafficking continues. Indeed, the number of persons in slavery today is greater than it was three years ago in 2012, and continues each year to eclipse and set repugnantly new records. What has happened to the soul of man?
The sale of children isn't isolated to some poor unfortunates in a far away land (though it surely exists there). Look around in your own urban metro area and you will see it. The homeless teen, the duped high school student, the latchkey kids, look around and understand.
Raise your head
I ask each of you, to raise your head. In the United States, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, yet we as a society allow it to continue. We may scrunch our noses and feint pity and compassion, but do we actually do something? We allow others to turn our children into slaves -- there is no distinction of gender (boys and girls are equally enslaved); there are no distinctions of race or creed (Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, African-American are equally enslaved); and it makes no distinction of economic class (the economically disadvantaged and the well-to-do are both targeted).
If you remain a skeptic that such could possibly occur in the United States, I invite you to peruse the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity site and review the many articles on the arrests and convictions of those exploiting our children, treating them as a commodity. And if you think this is an issue of the past, here's what has occurred in the past few days:
- 25 Sep 2015 - Nevada: Texas girl 13 sex trafficked by a Las Vegas man whom she met at a gas station in Phoenix.
- 25 Sep 2015 - New Hampshire: A Merrimack County (NH) jury convicted a Franklin man of trying to sell a 14-year-old girl for sex with an adult.
- 25 Sep 2015 - New York: Two Rochester (NY) men are behind bars after state police say they were sex trafficking minors
- 25 Sep 2015 - New Mexico: A federal grand jury has returned an indictment of sex trafficking of children against a 31-year-old Artesia man.
Children must not be a commodity
We must, together, stop allow others to treat our children as a commodity to become ensarled in a human trafficking ring or to be utilized as a sexual object, via sex trafficking. The skeptic says, "This can not be." The hopeful says, "There aren't many." And the activist says, "Where are they and how can I make a difference."
Be an activist
Hopefully, the activist in you will be empowered and you will take a moment and learn about the human trafficking of children and especially those who are victims of sex trafficking. Please, this week, take one demonstrable action to counter these nefarious individuals who are exploiting our youth and you will in turn make a difference to many children - both today and tomorrow.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center - http://traffickingresourcecenter.org/ The Polaris Project (nhtrc.polarisproject.org)- founded in December 2007, a non-profit, non-governmental organization working to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The NHTRC operates a national toll-free hot-line, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. HOT LINE: 1-888-3737-888
US Department of Justice - Child Exploitation and Obscenity (US DOJ CEOS) This unit was founded in 1987 to protect the welfare of America's children, is part of the Criminal Division and works with the 93 US Attorney Offices throughout the country. They investigate and prosecute violations of federal law related to producing, distributing, receiving, or possessing child pornography, transporting women or children interstate for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual activity, traveling interstate or internationally to sexually abuse children and international parental kidnapping. Global:
The Swiss foundation of Terre des hommes (www.tdh.ch) was founded in 1960. Over the ensuing 40 years, the organization specialized in three areas: Health, Social Care and the Rights of the Child.
The US foundation of Shared Hope International (www.sharedhope.org) was founded in 1998 and focuses on the victims of human trafficking and slavery. The organization's mission statement notes they "work diligently across the world, partnering with local groups to help women and children enslaved in the sex trade by providing them with shelter, healthcare, education and vocational training opportunities. Our three-pronged strategy--prevent, rescue and restore--is producing hope." Shared Hope International's report, "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking - America's prostituted children"