First the stats; the statistics for sex trafficking are eye opening by themselves. 83% of human trafficking, involves sex trafficking and 32% are children. 49% are forced into prostitution. Of the reported victims 95% are female, 5% are male. 62% are Hispanic, 16% are Anglo, 9% are Asian and 7% are African American. In regards to the suspects in confirmed sex trafficking incidents males were dominant but by no means exclusive. 74% of offenders were male, and 26% were female. 39% are Hispanic, 33% are African American, 13% are Asian and 10% are Anglo. Of the offenders 58% are between the ages of 18 and 34. (John O Savino and Brent E. Turvey. Rape Investigation Handbook 2nd Edition Elservier Publishing, Boston, MA. pg. 59-60) All of these statistics are just from cases within the United States, showing that sex trafficking is a problem and a rising problem at that here at home.
For the majority of the population, sex trafficking is a hidden crime. When it comes to types of crimes reported in the media you rarely hear anything about sex trafficking, but did you know sex trafficking is second only to the international drug trade in relation to organized crime? Yet the City of Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico do not have a have unit dedicated to this problem nor do we have the laws in place to charge the traffickers with rape, according to the Lt. of the Violent Crimes Unit with APD, it’s because in most cases, “they themselves are not committing the rapes, they are charged with sex trafficking only which usually is a 15-20 year sentence but would be longer if they were able to charge them with the rapes as well.” Sex trafficking is defined by; “in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. (Fact Sheet: Human Trafficking, 2013) Sex trafficking affects young children, teenagers, men, woman and families all over the world and needs to be brought to the attention of every human being that inhabits this world. If we know more about the problem, have stricter laws, and have units set up in each state and at a local level we can do more to stop it.
Many of the victims of sex trafficking are scouted by people working for larger crime organizations. The “scouts” concentrate mainly on bus stations, malls, parks, and young people who are alone or seem to be a “runaway.” In most cases the individuals are either coned or kidnapped. The cons vary from the promise of a better life for “runaways” to what they call a “Romeo pimp” a person who starts out as a romantic partner who then convinces or forces them into prostitution. As was “Darleen’s” case, a now 18 year old woman from Oakland who was kicked out of her home at the age of 15 and moved in with her 19 year old boyfriend. He soon began to tell her we need to find a way to get more money we need more food. “He introduced me to the world of prostitution he would show me this is how you look at the guys, these are the cars you avoid, and this is how much you charge.” She later found out she was only one of many girls her boyfriend had pimped out. “Each time I tried to leave or say no he would beat me, I was too scared to do anything else.” Unfortunately kidnapping cases usually end up involving forced drug use as was the case of a young girl in Stockton California. She was kidnapped at the age of 14 in 2006 walking home from a bus stop. Her kidnapper took her to a motel room tied her to the bed and began pimping her out “I fought back with the first guy and he slapped me and left. He came back a while later and injected me with something. I couldn’t move I couldn’t talk. After that I was being injected all the time and being forced to have sex up to seven times a day with different men.” She was found three months later abandoned in a Executive Inn Hotel. Her abductor/pimp left her believing she had died from injecting her with too much heroin. He was later found and prosecuted for the kidnapping and sex trafficking.
Prior to the enactment of the TVPA in 2000, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers. The TVPA and its subsequent reauthorizations have worked to prevent human trafficking both in the United States and abroad, to increase prosecution of human traffickers, and to protect victims by providing benefits and services that will help them rebuild their lives in the United States. More needs to be done to prosecute the offenders, the city of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico should create units within there departments to concentrate specifically on sex trafficking. I believe creating these units will provide more local attention and knowledge of the problem, what to do if you see it or encounter it, and will give an accurate number of victims that will help create stricter laws including being able to charge the “pimps” with rape. While the TVPA is a step forward we need to call on our city officials to do more; write, create, pass and enact laws in which offenders can be charged with rape and if found guilty be made to fallow all the same restrictions as a sex offender, make it a requirement that they register as a sex offender, wear a tracking devise, and set up longer prison sentences for those found guilty.
The above two cases of sex trafficking are examples of the thousands of cases happening all over the world, but too much of the population especially in the US not much is known about it and the fact that it is happening right here in the US is talked about even less. Let’s get the ball rolling start talking to our city and state officials and tell them more needs to be done! More laws and stricter laws need to be created and passed so this problem no longer is an invisible problem.
If you think you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.373.7888. The NHTRC can help you identify and coordinate with local organizations that protect and serve trafficking victims.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.373.7888
Fact Sheet: Human Trafficking. (2013, March 01). Retrieved from US Department of Health & Human Services: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/fact-sheet-human-trafficking
All statistics are provided by John O Savino and Brent E. Turvey. Rape Investigation Handbook 2nd Edition Elservier Publishing, Boston, MA. pg. 59-60