“Baby, I love you so much. I can give you everything you need. You’re beautiful; you’re sexy. You could really be a model. Maybe even an actress. Come away with me, I’ll do anything just for you.” Sounds convincing, doesn’t it? Something you want to hear; a man confessing their endearing love for you. You take the bait.
Within the next 24 hours, he has beaten you recklessly with his bare hands and a black eye is forming where the delicate blood vessels have burst. Three days pass and you’ve been physically raped by not only this man who claimed to love you, but also four other men. He has also forced you to snort cocaine and sell pills of ecstasy on the streets alone, demanding you return with a wad of cash. Days blur together and life doesn’t make much sense anymore. You are no longer a person; just a slave in this sex industry. You refer to this man only as “Daddy,” nothing else. You have no name, you are merely known as “bitch” or “ho.” Never anything more.
Suddenly all hope is gone and dreams no longer exist.
All you want to do is make it through the next day; hours; minutes.
This man is a pimp. He recruits women and young girls in the same way your significant other is telling them they love you. Why do these girls even listen? Their homes are not always stable and conditions can lower living standards. Sometimes they are facing worse abuse at home, their family is torn apart, or they have low self esteem.
Welcome to the world of sex trafficking, more specifically, prostitution.
These girls who have been trafficked are not doing so by choice, which is a common misconception. Sex trafficking has become a problem that needs more attention in the United States because people are uneducated about prostitution, the number of rapes and abuse across the country are very high, and because the justice system is not properly educated on the situation of handling victims correctly.
Each day around 200 people are trafficked, including men. Around 150,000 people in 2001, according to the U.S Department of Justice. Around 300,000 to 600,000 as of last year and the numbers are rising.
These traffickers are in your grocery store, your park, your mall, and eating next to you at a café. This problem is not being addressed, only dismissed, which is why the statistics keep rising.
According to victim and now Polaris Project employee, Tina Frundt, “When we hear the words ‘sex trafficking,’ as Americans, we immediately think of women and children overseas who are being forced into the sex trade or who are brought into the United States for the purpose of sexual exploitation. We don't usually think closer to home; Americans trafficked by Americans.” Education about sex trafficking and prostitution is lacking across the nation. There are numerous misconceptions, many which are originating in the media where the audience is the entire country. Songs like, “Pimpin’ All Over the World,” by Ludacris or even the show “Pimp My Ride,” as seen on MTV, have created the idea that “pimp” is a word that can be thrown around with no fixed meaning. A few years ago, the word “pimp” even became a trend on the streets meaning “cool” to many kids in middle and high school.
These pimps are not “cool.” One may torture a victim, and then require the prostitute to bring home a certain amount of money for their “services.” If they don’t, they face consequences that can vary due to how cruel a pimp feels. In addition, for the thousands of dollars a pimp makes a month, a single dime isn’t spent on taxes.
The victim may suffer from physical and verbal abuse, rape, starvation, substance abuse, or even worse. A conducted research on prostitution showed that 204 out of every 100,000 prostitutes are killed or found dead each year.
They are stripped of their humanity and the will to live.
The happiness they once had is only the smoke left from a flame that has burnt out.
The pimp is also the mastermind behind the operation of trafficking and has utilized the media in order to reel in his victims. A teenager with a shaky life at home may indeed become intrigued with a man who claims he loves her, or promises a much better life. Low self esteem is extremely common, especially in this time frame for young women, who then turn to men to make them feel better with promises for better futures. One is not aware of the help they may receive outside of her home which includes many hotlines for alcohol, suicide, abuse and crisis, domestic violence, and even a Teen Adolescent hotline. Social workers may also aid these children and young adults in many ways as well as a call to 911.
In school, children are not fully educated on the several negative occurrences in reality that can impact their lives. In middle school and high school they are required to take a health class that features information about sexual intercourse, abuse, and how to stay healthy. However, they are not educated on how to recognize when someone is being trafficked or on what prostitution is and that it occurs every day across the nation. The United States claims their youth isn’t educated about sex, which is the blame for teen pregnancies. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 236,220 girls between the ages of 15-17 became pregnant in 2008 in the United States.
At least 300,000 to 600,000 Americans are trafficked in a year.
Sex trafficking has taken a higher toll on victims. If just the youth is not educated about preventing pregnancy, how many people are really uneducated about prostitution and sex trafficking? If it is important enough to educate these kids on STD’s and pregnancy, why shouldn’t they be educated on how to protect themselves from selling their lives away through sex?
The consequences are piling up, as well as the other factors that make sex trafficking such a problem.
According to the Random House Dictionary, rape is defined as, “any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.” This includes those who are sexually trafficked and involved in prostitution. The legal term for their suffering is considered rape. As stated by the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, “…207,754 [people] are assaulted sexually each year with 1 person being assaulted every 2 minutes in the United States.”
Each day a victim is abused sexually, verbally, or physically. Reasoning does not exist in a brothel or a place of prostitution; only violence. Pimps resort to beating their slaves from as little as one to twenty or so times in a day for the simplest thing as talking when not told to.
Emotions no longer exist for these prisoners. Bruises they have make an imprint for a few days, but the scars left behind are not removable. Can you imagine someone beating you and raping you repeatedly So much even that you don’t even have the energy or feelings to cry?
A girl as young as 12 can be locked in a room, cornered. Her pimp will straddle her to the ground, rip away her clothes. He will make threats and promises of death. He’ll remind her that if she doesn’t bring home $1000 later for having sex, she will find out what real pain is. Then he will rape the girl; tearing apart her organs, making her bleed and scream.
Many victims experience this every day. Even more than once a day.
Who is there to hear them? No one.
Rape and abuse eat these sex trafficking victims to the core, and eat away at emotions and destroy their lives even more. The rising numbers of rape and abuse are outcomes of the sex trafficking industry silently growing in the United States. They could be stiffened with the increase in education and the decrease of sex trafficking.
The Justice System also features a small loophole; not properly educating officers on how to handle the victim’s of trafficking. Many people question why these prostitutes don’t just go to the government for help. They are afraid of how cruel and misunderstanding a police officer is. Another misconception is that they know the policemen are there for help. Their trafficker trains then to believe a police officer or social worker is bad. Many also assume each victim is a prostitute by choice, and there are no other options. Arresting them is the only one. When interviewing victim Holly Austin Smith, she stated:
My initial encounter with law enforcement was very negative. I reached out for help by
asking what would happen to me if I was under age. This was a sincere question… The
officer arrested me and heckled me on the drive to the station. I was strip-searched and
threatened with juvenile detention until I finally gave up my real name. They left me
handcuffed to a bench until my parents showed up, and they handed me over to my
parents wearing the same clothes the traffickers put on me that day.
Today, she is an advocate for law enforcement training in the specific area and sees that they are receiving the training needed to handle victims correctly. Policemen treat victims like criminals, having the mindset that they have chosen to sell themselves on the streets. That is not always the case, and many times these victims are unsure and afraid to reach out for help because they fear of the exact situation Smith faced. Most victims are ot offered many options. It comes down to either home or jail, while some despise their home life even more than being a prostitute. More options need to be offered for these young adults It is a main reason why the refrain from reaching out for help.
The Polaris Project, a project that prevents sex trafficking and modern day slavery, provides a hand guide for officers and other forms of law enforcement. It goes into detail about what precautions to take and how to handle a victim in a simple and effective manner. This hand guide is available to whoever wishes to read it. If enforcement and social workers were required to read it, the difference could help relieve the number of victims by enabling officers to learn how to talk to and recognize signs of a victim.
A majority of victims have also resulted to trafficking or being trafficked by negative factors in their personal life. Recently divorced parents, alcohol and drug abuse, and poverty are just a few of the major influences which allow victims to eat up the lines a trafficker is feeding them. Many in the justice system are uneducated about this as well. They send victims they have arrested right back into chaotic homes, which influences the process to start all over again.
Across the world, several countries do not forbid sex trafficking, or do not have their justice system include laws that combat human trafficking. Can you imagine how many people suffer outside of the United States? Our justice system has only merely touched the problem and the numbers are high. Imagine if we were taking no action at all. This is why we must work to ensure officers are receiving correct education about the matter.
We must work to fully educate our justice system on how to treat these fragile victims, as well as educate the rest of the nation on this growing problem. Each day the children of tomorrow are being exploited across the country and stripped of their innocence as they are abducted into this modern day slavery. The United States needs to reassess the problem and take further steps in educating the country. By doing this, the rape and abuse numbers also shrink. Although sex trafficking continues to grow, one step in the right direction makes the smallest difference for these modern day slaves.
Think of your friends, family, acquaintances. Can you imagine them being ripped of their humanity and desire to continue in life?
Stop sex trafficking now, because even you are at risk.