“Children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day.”-John Ryan, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
They are referred to as the Little Barbies.
Children, young girls-some as young as 9 years old-are being purchased and marketed for sex in America. The typical age for a young woman being sold for sex is currently 13 years old.
This really is America’s dirty little secret.
Sex trafficking- particularly when it comes to the purchasing and selling of young girls-has turn out to be big business in America, the quickest growing business in organized crime and the second most- profitable commodity traded in ways not according to the law after drugs and guns.
As investigative journalist Amy Fine Collins says, “It’s become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns. A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day-and a ‘righteous’ pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings.”
Think about this: every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry.
Based on USA Today, adults buy children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.
Who purchases a child for sex? Otherwise regular men from all walks of life.
“They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” publishes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.
In the state of Georgia alone, it is projected that 7,200 men (half of them in their 30s) search out to buy sex with adolescent girls each month, averaging approximately 300 per day.
Typically, a child may be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude.
It is approximated that at least 100,000 children-girls and boys-are purchased and sold for sex in the U.S. every year, with up to 300,000 children at an increased risk of being trafficked each year. Some of these children are purposely abducted, others are runaways, and still others are offered for sale into the system by relatives and acquaintances.
“Human trafficking-the commercial sexual exploitation of American children and women, via the Internet, strip clubs, escort services, or street prostitution-is on its way to becoming one of the worst crimes in the U.S.,” stated prosecutor Krishna Patel.
This is an business that centers around low-cost sex on the fly, with young girls and women who are marketed to 50 men each day for $25 each, while their handlers make $150,000 to $200,000 per child each year.
This is not a issue discovered only in large cities.
It’s occurring all over the place, right under our noses, in suburbs, cities and towns across the nation.
As Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children stresses, “The only way not to find this in any American city is simply not to look for it.”
Don’t trick yourselves into thinking that this is simply a issue for lower income communities or immigrants.
It is not.
It is approximated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged child sex workers in the U.S. These girls are not helping out to be sex slaves. They’re being lured-forced-trafficked into it. In most instances, they have no alternative.
To be able to refrain from detection (in many cases aided and abetted by law enforcement) and meet the needs of male buyers’ demand for sex with different women, pimps and the gangs and crime syndicates they operate for have converted sex trafficking into a extremely mobile business, with trafficked girls, boys and women continuously being transported from city to city, state to state, and country to country.
For example, the Baltimore-Washington area, known as The Circuit, with its I-95 corridor dotted with rest stops, bus stations and truck stops, is a center for the sex trade.
No doubt about it: this is a extremely profitable, highly organized and tremendously advanced sex trafficking enterprise that functions in towns large and small, earning an upwards of $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. alone by abducting and marketing young girls for sex.
On a yearly basis, the girls being purchased and sold gets younger and younger.
“For every 10 women rescued, there are 50 to 100 more women who are brought in by the traffickers. Regrettably, they’re not 18- or 20-year-olds anymore,” mentioned a 25-year-old victim of trafficking. “They’re minors as young as 13 who are being trafficked. They’re little girls.”
Where did this hunger for young girls originate from?
Take a look around you.
Young girls have been sexualized for decades now in music videos, on billboards, in television ads, and in clothing stores. Marketers have developed a need for young flesh and a ready source of over-sexualized children.
“All it takes is one look at [certain social media] photos of teens to see examples-if they aren’t imitating porn they’ve actually seen, they’re imitating the porn-inspired images and poses they’ve absorbed elsewhere,” writes Jessica Bennett for Newsweek. “Latex, corsets and stripper heels, once the fashion of porn stars, have made their way into middle and high school.”
This is what Bennett identifies as the “pornification of a generation.”
“In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn’t take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives,” concludes Bennett. “Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms. According to a 2007 study from the University of Alberta, as many as 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls aged 13 to 14 have accessed sexually explicit content at least once.”
Put simply, the society is grooming these young folks to be preyed upon by sexual predators. And then we question why our young women are being preyed on, trafficked and abused?
Social media makes it all too simple. As one news center documented, “Finding girls is easy for pimps. They look on MySpace, Facebook, and other social networks. They and their assistants cruise malls, high schools and middle schools. They pick them up at bus stops. On the trolley. Girl-to-girl recruitment sometimes happens.” Foster homes and youth shelters have also become perfect targets for traffickers.
Seldom do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. Many start off as runaways or throwaways, only to be snatched up by pimps or bigger sex rings. Others, persuaded to meet up with a stranger after interacting online through one of the numerous social networking sites, find themselves easily initiated into their new lives as sex slaves.
Debbie, a straight-A student who belonged to a close-knit Air Force family residing in Phoenix, Ariz., is an illustration of this trading of flesh. Debbie was 15 when she was snatched from her driveway by an acquaintance-friend. Forced into a vehicle, Debbie was bound and taken to an unidentified area, held at gunpoint and raped by multiple men. She was then stuffed into a small dog kennel and made to consume dog biscuits. Debbie’s captors advertised her services on Craigslist. Those who replied were often married with kids, and the money that Debbie “earned” for sex was made available to her kidnappers. The gang raping carried on. After searching the apartment where Debbie was placed captive, law enforcement finally discovered Debbie stuffed in a drawer under a bed. Her harrowing experience lasted for 40 days.
While Debbie was lucky enough to be rescued, others are not so fortunate. Based on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, nearly 800,000 children go missing every year (approximately 2,185 children a day).
With a increasing demand for sexual slavery and an unlimited supply of girls and women who can be targeted for abduction, this is not a issue that’s going away anytime soon.
For those trafficked, it’s a major problem from beginning to end.
Those being marketed for sex have an average life expectancy of seven years, and those years are a living nightmare of endless rape, forced drugging, humiliation, degradation, threats, disease, pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, torture, pain, and always the continual fear of being murdered or, even worse, having those you love hurt or killed.
Peter Landesman paints the full horrors of life for those affected individuals of the sex trade in his New York Times post “The Girls Next Door”:
Andrea told me that she and the other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was asked to play roles: the therapist patient or the obedient daughter. Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners-toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens-as well as what she called a “damage group.” “In the damage group, they can hit you or do anything they want to,” she explained. “Though sex always hurts when you are little, so it’s always violent, everything was much more painful once you were placed in the damage group.”
What Andrea detailed next displays just how depraved some portions of American society have become. “They’d get you hungry then to train you” to have oral sex. “They put honey on a man. For the littlest kids, you had to learn not to gag. And they would push things in you so you would open up better. We learned responses. Like if they wanted us to be sultry or sexy or scared. Most of them wanted you scared. When I got older, I’d teach the younger kids how to float away so things didn’t hurt.”
Immigration and customs enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., document that when it comes to sex, the appetites of numerous Americans have now transformed. What was once regarded as abnormal is now the norm. These agents are tracking a obvious spike in the need for harder-core pornography on the Internet. As one agent mentioned, “We’ve become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder hit.”
This pattern is reflected by the treatment many of the girls get at the hands of the drug traffickers and the men who buy them. Peter Landesman interviewed Rosario, a Mexican woman who had been trafficked to New York and held captive for numerous years. She stated: “In America, we had ‘special jobs.’ Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder.”
A prevalent thread woven through most survivors’ experiences is being forced to go without sleep or food until they have fulfilled their sex quota of at least 40 men. One woman recounts how her trafficker made her lie face down on the floor when she was pregnant and then actually jumped on her back, forcing her to miscarry.
Holly Austin Smith was kidnapped when she was 14 years old, raped, and then forced to prostitute herself. Her pimp, when taken to trial, was only made to serve one year in prison.
Barbara Amaya was regularly sold between traffickers, abused, shot, stabbed, raped, kidnapped, trafficked, beaten, and jailed all before she was 18 years old. “I had a quota that I was supposed to fill every night. And if I didn’t have that amount of money, I would get beat, thrown down the stairs. He beat me once with wire coat hangers, the kind you hang up clothes, he straightened it out and my whole back was bleeding.”
As David McSwane recounts in a chilling article for the Herald-Tribune: “In Oakland Park, an industrial Fort Lauderdale suburb, federal agents in 2011 encountered a brothel operated by a married couple. Inside ‘The Boom Boom Room,’ as it was known, customers paid a fee and were given a condom and a timer and left alone with one of the brothel’s eight teenagers, children as young as 13. A 16-year-old foster child testified that he acted as security, while a 17-year-old girl told a federal judge she was forced to have sex with as many as 20 men a night.”
One specific sex trafficking ring focused particularly to migrant workers employed seasonally on farms all through the southeastern states, particularly the Carolinas and Georgia, despite the fact that it’s a thriving enterprise in every state in the country. Traffickers move the women from farm to farm, where migrant workers would line up outside shacks, up to 30 at a time, to have sex with them before they were moved to yet another farm where the technique would start all over again.
This growing evil is, for all intents and purposes, out in the open.
Trafficked women and children are marketed on the internet, transported on the interstate, and purchased and sold in swanky hotels.
So what can you do?
Teach yourselves and your children about this raising risk in our communities.
Stop nourishing the creature: Sex trafficking is component of a greater continuum in America that runs the gamut from homelessness, poverty, and self-esteem problems to sexualized television, the glorification of a pimp/ho culture-what is often known as the pornification of America-and a billion dollar sex industry constructed on the back of pornography, music, entertainment, etc.
This pandemic is mostly one of our own making, particularly in a corporate age where the value placed on human life takes a backseat to profit. It is approximated that the porn industry produces more revenue than Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo.
Call on your city councils, elected officials and police departments to make the fight in opposition to sex trafficking a major goal, more so even than the alleged war on terror and drugs and the militarization of law enforcement.
Stop prosecuting adults for victimless “crimes” such as growing lettuce in their front yard and concentrate on putting away the pimps and buyers who victimize these young women.
Last but not least, the police have to do a better job of training, identifying and responding to these problems; communities and social services need to do a better job of protecting runaways, who are the primary targets of traffickers; legislators have to pass legislation targeted at prosecuting traffickers and “johns,” the buyers who drive the demand for sex slaves; and hotels have to cease enabling these traffickers, by giving them rooms and cover for their dirty deeds.
That so many women and children keep on being victimized, brutalized and treated like human cargo is because of three things: one, a consumer demand that is more and more lucrative for everyone involved- with the exception of the victims; two, a level of corruption so intrusive on both a local and international level that there is little hope of working through organized channels for change; and three, an spooky silence from people who fail to speak out against such atrocities.
But the truth is that we are all guilty of bringing about this human suffering. The traffickers are guilty. The consumers are guilty. The corrupt law enforcement officials are guilty. The women’s groups who do nothing are guilty. The foreign peacekeepers and aid workers who play a role to the demand for sex slaves are guilty. Above all, every person who does not raise a hue and cry over the atrocities being committed in opposition to women and children in almost every nation around the globe- which includes the United States-is guilty.
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