5 August 2010
Are Your Children at Risk to International Sex Traffickers?
Global American Series
Did you think slavery ended in the U.S. in 1862 with the 13th Amendment? Did you know that over 12 million people have been trafficked worldwide - and that nearly every city in the United States has people being held against their will for sex services and forced labor? According to official sources, 300,000 American children are at risk of becoming victims – including some of the 450,000 runaway children each year.
Did you know that human trafficking is today’s third largest criminal activity in the world – after arms and drugs? It’s a $10 billion/year business. It still exists on your street or in the massage parlor, the nail salon or private homes.
Many cities in the U.S. are hubs of trafficking, from San Francisco to Houston. Texas is a major hub and Houston is the hub of the hub. Over 90 languages are spoken in Houston. Its diversity allows traffickers to hide almost in plain sight. One group of labor trafficked men were made to take off their clothes and live on the second story of a house—the kidnappers lived downstairs--until they could ransom them to their families. But the same story is happening in American cities everywhere.
Did you know that despite the huge number of people being held in bondage, from 2001 to 2005 only 140 defendants have been convicted of human trafficking in U.S. courts – and that was a 109% increase from 1996-2000!
Children are preyed on by pimps and predators hanging out at bus stations etc., promising love that turns out to be a Dr. Jeyll and Mr. Hyde trap into an isolated controlled world of forced commercial sex and abuse. They are denied their own money. They can’t own a phone or talk to their family or friends. They are moved from city to city, living in apartments or massage parlors, and even private homes. The traffickers are also getting more violent against their captives.
80% of the trafficked are women, 50% of them are minors. Boys are also trafficked. Solution? Police still are not trained to recognize a trafficked person, who often hide or deny their victim status to official authorities who arrest them – and also take advantage of their plight. On August 5, the Houston Chronicle ran an article on two Houston vice officers who were caught taking nude photos of a prostitute – way beyond normal procedure. It is not an isolated incident according to many sources. Harris County Texas, however, gets high marks for training its officers to recognize a trafficked person. The Houston Police Department does not. I was informed that some HPD use the services provided by the massage parlors and don’t think of these women as being trafficked.
Europeans are ahead of the U.S in trafficking laws. Sweden has a model law that criminalizes the DEMAND for prostitution (arrest the guy asking for sex) but decriminalized prostitution itself. “Sex Purchase Laws’ have reduced prostitution by 50%!
The UN passed a law in 2004 and it ranks countries on their trafficking efforts. Kuwait flunked and ranked as the worst. It is unwilling to prosecute its own citizens -- who hire thousands of overseas workers and have a history of serious abuse cases. It makes you wonder why we saved their butt from Saddam?
There is only one person providing services to help people who have been trafficked in the Houston area. Dozens of groups provide help for drug or alcohol issues, but an empty hole exists for victims of sex trafficking. U.S. Law Enforcement needs training to recognize trafficked persons, and we need a system to get these people help. International trafficking victims can get help without being charged with a crime, but a domestic U.S. sex trafficking victim has to be charged with a crime to get assistance for counselors, etc.!
Attention needs to be paid to this important issue that could affect your sister, daughter, niece, brother, nephew , etc.
You can hear our first Global Amerian Radio broadcast on International Trafficking this Saturday at 9 a.m. on Business 1110 AM Houston, streamed on http://business1110ktek.com/ and also available worldwide at our new Global American Radio website at:
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