It is shocking to look into the details of the human trafficking that has been occurring for centuries, is still occurring, grows in number and severity every year, and is occurring in every country on Earth, including the United States.
A good friend of mine is in federal law enforcement. He shocked me several years ago with the details of a federal investigation that was attacking “Sex Tourism.” I had never heard of it. It involved U.S. tourists — primarily men — who make trips overseas that purportedly are for business but are not. In Costa Rica, El Salvador and other Central American countries and in Southeast Asia the Americans fly in to conduct “business.” Instead, they stay in specific hotels that have room service menus. Food is not on the menu, however, boys, girls, women and even men ARE on the menu. The American “orders” off the menu.
Because of new international laws, U.S. federal authorities can now track these American sex=fiends into those foreign countries, arrest them on the spot, and without extradition bring them straight back to the U.S. for prosecution.
Selling people has always been a hidden, dark enterprise that is perpetrated in and from every country in the World. It’s not exclusive to any one demographic. Sadly, there are sadistic people who are happy “purchasing” other humans without preferences for those of specific sexes, ages, and ethnicities.
Not all — in fact, less than half — of those caught-up in human trafficking had any idea of what was happening until it was too late. Like Rebecca Bender. Rebecca was from a good middle-class family, was a good student headed for a great university after high school graduation. And then it happened:
The Basics of Human Trafficking
We today and tomorrow will explore the human trafficking that is so rampant in the World but is blowing up in the United States. There is so much information out there for us to digest we cannot do it in one session. It is so deplorable, we cannot even get our minds around the fact that human trafficking even exists.
Worldwide human trafficking statistics for 2018
- 51% of all victims of human trafficking are women aged 18 or older. The proportion of men being trafficked has significantly increased over the last 10 years – from 13% to 21%.
- Around 85% of all the victims are trafficked for labor exploitation, nearly 7% for sexual exploitation and just 1% for organ removal. Women and girls are 72% more likely to be trafficked for sexual exploitation than men.
- 28% of all human trafficking victims are children (around 20% of girls and 8% of boys).
- 63% of all convicted of human trafficking are male, and 37% are female.
- Around 43% of all documented cases were domestic, meaning the victim was trafficked with the national borders.
- India, Libya, and Myanmar are considered the most dangerous countries especially for women in terms of human trafficking.
United States human trafficking statistics
- More than 10,000 people become victims of human trafficking in the US each year;
- Women are approximately seven times more likely to experience human trafficking than men;
- The average age of the victims is around 15-17 years for sexual exploitation and around 20 for labor exploitation;
- It was estimated that Hispanic and Asian people are more likely to become victims of human trafficking;
- A marriage proposal is by far the most common type of recruitment tactics for sex slavery, whereas for the labor exploitation, the perpetrators most often just promise a good job;
- During Super Bowls and some other large events, there is a spike in sex trafficking, which is around 5 to 20 percent;
- California, Texas, and Florida had the most cases of human trafficking registered in 2018;
- According to the national human trafficking statistics, Atlanta’s underground sex economy is the biggest with the yearly profit of around $250 million.
“When a child has been recruited, transported, harbored, or received and some commercial element is introduced in the production of child pornography, then that individual (by federal law) has also engaged in child trafficking. Whether they work in strip clubs or sweatshops, these boys and girls are victims of human trafficking.”
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as: “sex trafficking in which a 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.”
“The economic reality is that human trafficking is driven by profits. If nobody paid for sex, sex trafficking would not exist.”
Where do trafficked children come from?
Child trafficking victims, whether for labor, sex or organ trafficking, come from all backgrounds, include both boys and girls. They span a wide age range from 1 to 18 years old. Sex trafficking victims up to roughly 25 years old most often started as young as 14. Children are trafficked out of, or into the United States from all regions of the world and represent a variety of different races, ethnic groups, and religions. They may be brought to the U.S. legally or smuggled in.
Trafficked children can be lured to the U.S. through the promise of school or work and promised the opportunity to send money back to their families. Children are also vulnerable to kidnappers, pimps, and professional brokers. Some children are even sold to traffickers by their families, who may or may not have an understanding of what will happen to the child. U.S. born children are also trafficked within the U.S., coming from any racial group, socio-economic background, and come from or trafficked within both city and rural areas.
The Numbers Internationally
The (UNODC) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports the percentage of child victims had risen in a 3-year span from 20 percent to 27 percent. Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy.
Gender and age profile of victims detected globally: 59% Women – 14% Men – 17% Girls and 10% were Boys.
- 600,000 to 800,000 women, children and men are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for forced labor or commercial sex (U.S. Government);
- When internal trafficking victims are added to the estimates, the number of victims annually is in the range of 2 to 4 million
- 50% of those victims are estimated to be children;
- It is estimated that 76 % of transactions for sex with underage girls start on the Internet;
- 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade (UNICEF).
- Human trafficking has surpassed the illegal sale of arms;
- Trafficking will surpass the illegal sale of drugs in the next few years;
- Drugs are used once and they are gone. Victims of child trafficking can be used and abused over and over;
- A $32 billion-a-year industry, human trafficking is on the rise and is in all 50 states (U.S. Government);
- 4.5 Million of trafficked persons are sexually exploited;
- Up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the international commercial sex trade every year;
- From 14,500 – 17,500 of those victims are trafficked into the United States each year.
- The average life span of a victim is reported to be 7 years (found dead from attack, abuse, HIV and other STD’s, malnutrition, overdose or suicide)
In the United States, the largest group of at-risk children are runaway, thrown away, or homeless American children who use survival sex to acquire food, shelter, clothing, and other things needed to survive on America’s streets. According to the National Runaway Switchboard, 1.3 million runaway and homeless youth live on America’s streets every day. [5,000 die each year] It would not be surprising to learn that the number of children trafficked in the United States is actually much higher than 300,000.
Children are often targeted by traffickers as they are deemed easier to manipulate than adults. More money can be earned by younger girls and boys exploited in sexual exploitation, especially virgins. Pre-pubescent girls are reported to be injected with hormones to bring on puberty. Younger girls are expected to have a greater earning potential, and as such are in greater demand.
Physical and Mental Consequences of Trafficking for victims
- Child victims of human trafficking face significant problems. Often physically and sexually abused, they have distinctive medical and psychological needs that must be addressed before advancing in the formative years of adulthood.
- Child victims of exploitation can face a number of long-term health problems:
- Sleeping and eating disorders;
- Sexually transmitted diseases;
- HIV/AIDS, pelvic pain, rectal trauma and urinary difficulties from working in the sex industry;
- Drug addiction;
- Chronic back, hearing, cardiovascular or respiratory problems from endless days toiling in dangerous agriculture, sweatshop or construction conditions;
- Fear and anxiety;
- Depression, mood changes;
- Guilt and shame;
- The cultural shock from finding themselves in a strange country;
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder;
- Traumatic bonding with the trafficker.
We have barely scratched the surface in this story of just how big, far-reaching, and all-encompassing Human Trafficking is. Many saw the movie “Taken” starring Liam Neeson as a former CIA undercover agent whose daughter was kidnapped while on a trip to France with a friend. She was able to reach her father by phone just moments before the human traffickers abducted her. He made a trip to Paris, tracked down the traffickers, and was able to use his considerable CIA skills to get his daughter back just moments before she was to be spirited away into a Middle Eastern life as a slave that would have certainly ended in her death.
Real life seldom finds an ex-CIA dad able to save these children from human trafficking. And it doesn’t matter if these are young children, young adults, boys or girls, men or women, humans are being sold into slavery every day right under our noses. As you saw and heard in the story of Rebecca Bender above, there’s no “cookie-cutter” victim for traffickers. Just about anyone and everyone — especially young children, teens and young adults — are candidates.
Traffickers are professionals. They know their trade inside and out, know how to act swiftly, and know how to sway the minds of young people who most often see their worlds as only their world that exists right around them. Traffickers have learned how to influence their victims with anything at their disposal necessary to sway those trafficked into a life situation that changes them forever and that they never thought could happen to them.
Let me say this: the Trump Administration has taken demonstrative actions in President Trump’s first term — as he promised in campaigning — to take on human traffickers here in the U.S. and abroad working with foreign intelligence entities. Tens of thousands have been arrested and thousands of young people have been rescued. We’ll have more specifics including eye witness accounts in the next chapter of this drama that will play out tomorrow.
As horrifying and devastating as are these experiences, do you know what is more horrifying? The fact that you and I rarely if ever see or hear any national coverage about human trafficking. Ask yourself this question: Why is that? Is it because the victims are too young, too poor, or too unknown for the Media to spend the time and effort to give us their stories? Or is it because that same Media may have powerful people to protect by NOT telling these stories? In either case, our not seeing and hearing these heartbreaking testimonies sufficient to kick these rescues into high gear is in my opinion as big a tragedy as are those young people in the stories themselves.
Be back tomorrow and we drill deeper, uncover more facts and tell more stories, and challenge all to take a role in assisting all those in power in the U.S. and elsewhere who are taking up this cause to save our young people.