When citizens of America, hear, read or talk about human trafficking acts, we think and refer to foreign countries and hardly consider looking closer to home—America.
Human trafficking is a serious issue around the world that generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. According to the United Nations, 161 countries out of the 192 are involved in human trafficking. This year marks the first time the U.S. has ranked in the Trafficking in Persons Report alongside other countries, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The government is finally acknowledging a problem that is crucial in America.
According to the U.S. Department of State, human trafficking is any situation where “one person holds another person in compelled service.”
One common factor between the U.S. and the world is that women and children, especially young girls between the ages 12 to 17, are 80 percent of the people being trafficked. The Department of State says most of the people trafficked in the U.S. are used in the sex industry or for labor such as agriculture and are held to repay “debt.”
Human trafficking is a modern-day crime that does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender or age. The children taken for trafficking usually do not have a family and are homeless. The constant growth of the child pornography market makes human trafficking possible and frequent.
Atlanta is possibly one of the biggest hubs for underage sex trafficking in the U.S. The Documentary “Numbers”-Child Exploitation and Sex Trafficking PSA in Atlanta from Ron Dawson, states that 500 young females are trafficked for sex each month to serve 7,200 men. Each week, 100 to 150 young girls are violently “raped for profit.” Approximately 90 percent of these victims are on average 14-years-old but some are as young as 9.
These young girls usually belong to pimps. These pimps prey on young women by finding their weakness and then exploiting it. They find ways to manipulate their victims and emotionally abuse them, allowing young women to feel 100 percent dependent on their pimp to maintain control at all times. This is very similar to a domestic abuser.
Many victims have a prior abuse history who probably ran away for a better life but instead found themselves in a worse situation. These victims also suffer emotional damage from trafficking and obtain a mindset that sexual exploitation is acceptable or even deserved.
We would like to believe that the U.S. is the land of the free and full of opportunities. It is a place where every child has the same chance to succeed and prosper. But let’s be realistic. Americans traffic Americans for money, profit, debt, labor, sex, etc.
Over 800,000 people have been affected by human trafficking and unfortunately this number is increasing. An issue we once thought was so far from home is happening right around us and within our neighborhoods. It is an issue we can no longer ignore.
Every citizen needs to observe your surrounding and start looking out for such victims to save. If you know someone who is being trafficked call the National Trafficking Resource Center, 888.373.7888.