Human Trafficking

The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines the crime of human trafficking as:

A. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, or

B. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”

Domestic minor sex trafficking occurs when U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident minors (under the age of 18) are commercially sexually exploited. Children can be commercially sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, and/or erotic entertainment.

The commercial aspect of the sexual exploitation is critical to separating the crime of trafficking from sexual assault, molestation or rape. The term “commercial sex act” is defined by the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act as the giving or receiving of anything of value (money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes, etc.) to any person in exchange for a sex act.

The age of the victim is the critical issue — there is no requirement to prove force, fraud, or coercion was used to secure the victim’s actions. The law recognizes the effect of psychological manipulation by the trafficker, as well as the effect of threat of harm which traffickers/pimps use to maintain control over their young victims.

Human Trafficking Statistics in America

293,000 children and youth are estimated to be at risk of exploitation.

100,000 are prostituted annually.

55% of girls living on the streets engage in prostitution.

20% of prostituted girls are transported across state lines for services.

The average age of entry for girls into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old.

Traffickers and pimps use physical, emotional and psychological abuse to coerce young women and girls into a life of sex trafficking. Traffickers are master manipulators and employ tactics to create a trauma bond between the victim and trafficker. Traffickers often use the threat of violence against victim or a victim’s loved one to secure their submission.

Many pimps often use a “lover-boy” technique to recruit girls from middle and high schools. A lover-boy will present himself as a boyfriend and woo the girl with gifts, promises of fulfilled dreams, protection, adventure – whatever she perceives she is lacking. After securing her love and loyalty, he will force her into prostitution.

Pre-teen or adolescent girls are more susceptible to the calculated advances, deception, and manipulation tactics used by traffickers/pimps – no youth is exempt from falling prey to these tactics. Traffickers target locations youth frequent such as schools, malls, parks, bus stops, shelters and group homes. Runaway or homeless youth as well as those with a history of physical and sexual abuse have an increased risk of being trafficked.

The buyers of sex from juveniles can be anyone – professionals, students, tourists, military personnel, a family member. They can be Hall of Fame football stars like Lawrence Taylor, business leaders like Sunflower Markets CEO Michael Gilliland, or politicians like former New York Governor Elliott Spitzer. Because buyers often pay in cash and may interact with a victim for as little as five minutes, buyers are increasingly difficult to identify.

 

Information Courtesy of Shared Hope International

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