Human Trafficking is occurring all around the world and also in the United States. This is not just a crime that is committed in other countries. There have been cases reported by the authorities in every single state. Those victimized are at every age from adults to young children of both genders. Based on federal reporting it is estimated that the number of persons exploited sexually for money or trafficked are in the thousands (DOJ, 2007). Some are brought into the U.S. from other countries and the number of citizens that are trafficked in the U.S. are unknown officially. The primary sex crimes being includes child exploitation, prostitution, and pornography (Keane, 2006).
The age range of children involved in sexual trafficking is as early as 12 years old. Those of school age that do not live with their biological parents are often targeted. Children are often targeted due to their inherent gullibility due to age and vulnerability in trusting others. The market for sex unfortunately has a higher demand for young victims. For those that entice young people into sexual exploitation, federal laws are violated in addition to state laws, though the state laws differ from state to state (Keane, 2006). Children of high school age and younger are approached by pimps or those who prey on youth by gaining their trust then turning them out or recruiting them into prostitution for money (Keane, 2006).
Methods used by pimps are the Internet through chat rooms, social media, telephone, the mall, school or community type club events (i.e. Skating rinks, latch key, after school, and sporting events). Friends may bring in their peers or recruit young girls from school.
Though some young teens are recruited as early as 12 years of age, the average age is around 13 and the estimates nationwide are approximately 14,000-17,000 victims, with most of these being young girls (DOJ, 2007).
Areas where sex trafficking has reached epidemic proportions include the states of Atlanta, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Toledo, Miami and San Francisco. Portland, Oregon is considered the sex trafficking capital of the country. Though it occurs to some extent in every single major city throughout the country. This based on FBI reports, that also state that sex trafficking is one of the most rapidly increasing organized crimes in the entire world (DOJ, 2007).
The definition of trafficking is to coerce anyone of any age against their will into a lifestyle and profiting from such use (DOJ, 2007). Additionally, the buying, selling, threatening or forcing of another human to commit any act or service without consent. A pimp is a person who is trafficking others in this manner.
In child prostitution with young girls, they are often unhappy with their home life when 'befriended' by a man who is much older. The man plays on the emotions of the young inexperienced teen, showering them with attention and telling them all the things they want to hear. How they are beautiful, talented, smarter than their parents, older or wiser than others of their age, possibly giving them gifts and taking them places considered taboo by parents or guardians (Eisenmenger, 2011).
This is what is termed the courting period where the pimp attempts to gain the trust of the victim . Once they fill they have control over the teen they may ask them to run away with them to live with a new 'family' where they can be free of parental type influences and be together (Eisenmenger, 2011).
The young teen often thinks they are in love with the pimp and will do whatever he asks. Once they have left their home and started receiving gifts and being treated like an adult by the pimp, the next step is to get the young girl trained. This consists of having her raped by several 'johns' or customers in order to break her will. In America most child prostitutes truly believe the pimp loves them. Eventually he will ask them to stay out until they bring in $500 a night, possibly 10 or more customers, this is considered paying the pimp back for all he has 'done' for them. The girls under the pimp's control are considered his 'stable' and often the'family' will travel from one state to another in order to avoid police or other investigations (Carr, 2009).
In America it is sometimes more difficult to get the girls away from the pimps because, they have very strong feelings toward them called the Stockholm Syndrome when they are strongly tied emotionally (Eisenmenger, 2011). The girls all compete for the pimp's favor and attention by making the most money or recruiting other girls into the 'family'. The pimp treats the head girl differently by buying them special gifts, or allowing them ride in his car or sleep in his bed (Eisenmenger, 2011). This is different from other countries where child prostitution occurs, the 'pimps' do not befriend the victims, simply buy and sell them for sexual favors to paying customers (Carr, 2009).
The reason that this strong emotional bond is created is because the girl is often escaping from a traumatic family or broken home. Reasons being divorce, the parent or guardian being abusive, negligent, where parents have drug or alcohol abuse issues. In other cases adults parents or guardians simply are unable or unavailable to relate or communicate with their children or teens living in their home (Freyd, Putnam, Lyon, Becker -Blease, Cheit, Siegel, and Pezdek, K., 2005). The pimp is able to befriend them by playing on the emotional immaturity of the youth. For a 35-year-old man to be friends with a 12-year-old is considered inappropriate by most adults. However, to a youngster this attention from someone 'older' fills the void of love and security missing that the parent or guardian should be providing.
Whenever the child has a difficult time at home, now they have this other adult person who is there to listen and sympathize. They think this person 'really cares about me', 'loves me' and 'is there for me' (Eisenmenger, 2011). The other adult then continues to flame these types of feelings until they feel the child is ready to leave their home.
After the child runs away to live with this new adult 'friend', he continues to shower them with affection, special attention, and gifts. However, at some points usually three weeks, he will ask them to have sex with a friend for some money (Eisenmenger, 2011). Saying they need the money for all that he has been spending lately on them, giving some excuses such as to 'help pay rent'. The girl most likely will resist as they are primarily virgins when they leave home (Eisenmenger, 2011). This is when this adult abuser feels he can play against the girl's emotional guilt over not agreeing and punishes her by having as many men as necessary rape her. He will then blame her by saying it didn't have to be that way if she had agreed to do this one thing for him after all he had done for her (Eisenmenger, 2011). Saying accusatory words such as, 'why did you make me do that to you' (Eisenmenger, 2011). She then feels guilty for not agreeing being vulnerable and needing his protection, feels obligated to do what he asks to feel secure and 'safe' again.
After a time the girl realizes she is a prostitute and feels like she is damaged goods and doesn't deserve anything better. Thinking her family would not take her back if she tried to escape. The shock of knowing she cannot return home or to her school and friends further traumatizes the young girl.
What is being done about Child Sex Trafficking
In America, the trade of prostitution is often glamorized by Hollywood and the Big Screen. Movies such as "Pretty Woman," made the profession look like a romantic fairy tale. However, the truth is far seedier, these young girls are gang raped by 8-10 men then forced to have sex nightly with up to 10 or more men to earn $500 a night according to task force agent Erika Clark, Air Force Intelligence (Eisenmenger, 2011).
They receive none of the money for themselves, all given to the pimp who pays room and board and buys their clothes and food for them. By some statistics pimps earn as much as $600,000 off their 'stable' of girls a year (Eisenmenger, 2011).
There are many task forces across the country in every major city. However, convictions for traffickers is rare, the girls often will not testify against their pimp because they feel they are in love with them reports Agent Clark (Eisenmenger, 2011).
Agent Clark reports that in the field of rescuing girls from sexual trafficking situations, the girls often don't even realize they are victims when they are rescued (Eisenmenger, 2011). They truly believe he (the pimp) is a boyfriend who will marry them once they earn a certain amount of money,…
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