It’s a trade of exploitation, manipulation and corruption, and it’s happening in suburban, urban and rural areas all across the United States—a place we unrealistically call “the land of the free.”
“Human trafficking is much closer to home than you think; victims, younger than ever, are just as likely to be the homegrown American girl next door as illegally imported foreigners,” said Amy FineCollins of Vanity Fair.
Women, children and young girls are held captive by their pimps or johns. They are beaten if they refuse to comply with his demands. They are often forced to take drugs, and they at times don’t remember the events of their nights.
They are scared into submission with acts of violence or threats of death. Their pimps tell them they are loved, promise them happiness and an escape from the struggles of their former lives, but then force them into a life worse than any they could have imagined.
They are made into objects of no value, stripped of their humanity and personality, alive only to make money for the man that owns them.
Human trafficking is now the second fastest growing criminal industry, behind only drug trafficking, and children are approximately half of all victims, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
It is a crime not often talked about, and its victims often stay silent out of fear of the repercussions from their pimps or johns. It’s not a lifestyle these women and children ever choose, but it’s one forced upon them out of desperation and trickery.
Many victims come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect in their families, and they are seeking love and wanting to be wanted, and there are men waiting who know how to prey on them and play with their emotions.
President Obama has declared January National Slavery Human Trafficking Prevention month in efforts to shed light on this illegal and immoral industry, according to the CNN Freedom Project.
It’s a step in the right direction.
The FBI has also recognized the need for radical change, and states that they are “working hard to stop human trafficking—not only because of the personal and psychological toll it takes on society, but also because it facilitates the illegal movement of immigrants across borders and provides a ready source of income for organized crime groups and even terrorists.”
Sex trafficking is an industry, and financially, it has been extremely successful.
The Polaris Project based out of Washington, D.C. said “trafficking for sex and forced labor generates billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people globally.”
The size and scale of human trafficking is sickening and horrible, and we need to take a stand against it.
On average, victims are young children when they are forced to enter into sex trafficking of some sort. They can’t defend themselves against their johns, and we as a nation need to be their voice and their rescue.
The Shenandoah Valley Justice Initiative recently worked to create a JMU club called SVJI-JMU that works to involve students in the fight against modern-day slavery.
Get involved. Don’t let this continue to be what the FBI calls “a problem of epidemic proportion.”
These women and children are not criminals—they are victims of a horrendous crime. They should not be prosecuted—they should be protected. They don’t need pity—they need action and they need us.