According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is one of the most prevalent crimes that people know nothing about. Every day, men, women and children taken from their families and filtered into modern-day slavery. On today’s blog, Dottie Laster, of the Bernardo Kholer Center, shares vital information about human trafficking we believe is important for all of our readers to know.
In 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)- this law made it illegal to use force, fraud or coercion to compel another person into forced labor or commercial sex. It increased the criminal and civil penalties for such crimes. The TVPA also recognized and protected the victims of modern slavery also known as human trafficking. The reason for this law was the fact that many men, women and children were in plain sight yet were enslaved with tactics of psychological coercion and fraud. Many were exploited and sold by parents, friends and family members as well as organized crime groups. According to the Department of Justice this crime generates $9.5 Billion annually for traffickers.
Congress recognized that feigned love, debt bondage, and threats to loved ones were stronger bonds than chains because if a victim were to escape the coercion was still present. The law also made it very clear that anyone who recruited, received, transported, obtained or maintained a trafficked person was guilty of trafficking so this covered everyone involved in the scheme. Recently, former NFL player Lawrence Taylor pled guilty to a misdemeanor due to purchasing sex with a 16 year old from a pimp who is being charged with trafficking. The TVPA makes clear that any minor in stripping, pornography, or prostitution is a trafficked victim and all people involved are guilty of sex trafficking. It is a travesty of justice that a plea of a misdemeanor was taken. The TVPA has increased penalties for the sex trafficking of minors which reach up to life in prison is the minor is 14 or under.
To meet the huge demand for commercial sex and cheap labor traffickers use coercion such as -if you escape I will put your little sister in your place, we will kill your family or have you arrested. The TVPA made it possible for victims to receive assistance and legal protection for acts related to the trafficking. Yet many times victims are not identified and even prosecuted because of a lack of knowledge of the law.
In one case, a teen was lured from her home by a “boyfriend” who quickly turned out to be a pimp. This turned into a 2 year cycle of hell for her and her family. She was first reported missing, later she called and said she chose to leave but her mother could tell something else was wrong. Her family could not find her and for many months she reports being brutally forced to commit crimes such as robbery and prostitution. The “pimp”/trafficker continued violence, rape and battery was horrible however they did not scare her as much as his threats to her elderly bed ridden grandparent. When her beloved grandparent finally passed, she escaped. As promised, the pimp made an anonymous call and had her arrested for crimes he forced her to commit. He probably even received a reward for his efforts. She was prosecuted and he was never investigated. Thanks to an amazing victim who survived and was truthful, a persistent mother, good defense team, the TVPA and a very knowledgeable judge the victim is receiving help and will not receive the 20 years in jail she was facing. However the trafficker is still free.
Human Trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world today- It is modern slavery and is occurs in every country in the world and every state in the United States. The demand for commercial sex and cheap labor is unable to be met- so the supply must be forced and coerced. If you have a loved one missing, especially a minor, human trafficking must be considered as soon as possible. This crime is extremely lucrative and prevalent.
Some of early indicators of trafficking are:
- ANY MINOR IN COMMERCIAL SEX ( anything of value exchanged for stripping, pornography, or prostitution)- no movement is required for trafficking- some are exploited by parents-
- Anytime someone is missing and has been in commercial sex
- It first appears that the victim is off with a “boyfriend” or new friend
- Quickly isolated or distrustful friends and family
- Off to a new job- modeling or performing-exciting and too good to be true
- The victims may suddenly become distant and isolated- stop calling and emailing
- be sick/injured often yet not seeking care
- new or increased drug use
- victim starts prostituting/working in commercial sex
- accumulates arrests
- Lack of or loss of Identification
- Controlled travel such as having a “driver”
- Constant cell phone /computer use
- some vanish without a trace
Victims of trafficking cannot save themselves, they need their loved ones, law enforcement, churches and individuals to make a and the community to make a safe place for victims and a hostile environment for traffickers.
At the beginning of this month, President Barack Obama declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Read his Proclamation in full here.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Over a century and a half after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, millions remain in bondage — children forced to take part in armed conflict or sold to brothels by their destitute families, men and women who toil for little or no pay, who are threatened and beaten if they try to escape. Slavery tears at our social fabric, fuels violence and organized crime, and debases our common humanity. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we renew our commitment to ending this scourge in all its forms.
Because modern-day slavery is a global tragedy, combating it requires international action. The United States is shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists, placing sanctions on some of the worst abusers, giving countries incentives to meet their responsibilities, and partnering with groups that help trafficking victims escape from their abusers’ grip. We are working with other nations as they step up their own efforts, and we are seeing more countries pass anti-human trafficking laws and improve enforcement.
At home, we are leading by example. My Administration is cracking down on traffickers, charging a record number of perpetrators. We are deploying new technology in the fight against human trafficking, developing the Federal Government’s first-ever strategic action plan to strengthen victim services, and strengthening protections against human trafficking in Federal contracts. During the past year, the White House has hosted events on combating human trafficking, bringing together leaders from every sector of society. Together, we came up with new ideas to fight trafficking at the national and grassroots levels.
As we work to dismantle trafficking networks and help survivors rebuild their lives, we must also address the underlying forces that push so many into bondage. We must develop economies that create legitimate jobs, build a global sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited, and empower our daughters and sons with the same chances to pursue their dreams. This month, I call on every nation, every community, and every individual to fight human trafficking wherever it exists. Let us declare as one that slavery has no place in our world, and let us finally restore to all people the most basic rights of freedom, dignity, and justice.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2014 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, faith-based groups, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
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