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Feb-12-2013 23:42printcomments

Human Trafficking In The U.S.

Human trafficking is estimated to be a $9.5 billion dollar annual business. 80 percent of victims are women and up to 50 percent of them are children.

Human Trafficking
Courtesy: NNC

(TEHRAN) - Human trafficking or modern day slavery is the second and the fastest growing crime in the U.S. Based on official statistics, approximately 15000-18000 people including men, women, boys and girls are trafficked into the U.S. from 50 countries annually, while non-official statistics shows that at least 50000 women and children trafficked into the U.S. each year.

The number of U.S. citizens who are trafficked inside the country is even more.

Human trafficking is estimated to be a $9.5 billion dollar annual business. 80 percent of victims are women and up to 50 percent of them are children.

Among 10 victims trafficked to the United States 8 of them are for sexual purposes and prostitution and 2 of them are for forced labor. Child sex trafficking is also increasing. 120000 children were trafficked in 2009 and this number reached to 160000 in 2010.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14 years old in the U.S.

Most of the victims often come from the poor areas where opportunities are limited. Traffickers promise better life, good jobs or opportunities for study, and then force the victims to become prostitutes. Traffickers sell their victims to brothels, hotels and motels, truck stops, restaurants, private homes and etc.

The main purposes of human trafficking are sexual exploitation and labor exploitation. Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sex entertainment industry. Female victims of forced labor, especially women and girls are often sexually abused.

Human traffickers and pimps use all kinds of physical violence against victims, including beating, torturing, starvation, force-feeding with drugs and rape. However, physical violence is not the only tool used to exert pressure on the victims.

Criminals use the most extreme forms of violence to gain control over the victims, including threatening to harm their families and relatives, threatening to kill or disfigure the victim, preventing victims from communicating with others and etc.

The United states is the main destination for human trafficking and it exists in all 50 States of this country. Thailand, Mexico, Philippines, Haiti, India, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic are identified as the main countries of origin. Texas, California, Florida, Washington DC and Las Vegas are hot spots for domestic and international human trafficking because of their large population, proximity to international borders, large economy, extensive ports, and metropolitan regions.

The U.S. government and human trafficking

There was no serious attempt by the U.S. government to combat human trafficking or modern day slavery, despite it being the second biggest crime in the U.S. In all eras, the U.S. government behaves as if this crime only happens in other countries.

As a matter of fact, Americans are unaware of its occurrence inside their own country and they cannot even imagine a U.S. citizen would be trafficked inside the country’s border. Most people in the U.S. still believe this is something that happens to foreign women, men and children – not something that happens to their own. It is a widespread problem in the U.S. and no one is safe from the harm of it. To prove this, we express true story of Theresa Flores.

Ms. Theresa Flores

Ms. Theresa Flores, with over 20 years experience in the Social Work field, has experienced the bitterness of this painful crime on her own. She received her Master’s in Counseling Education from University of Dayton and a Bachelor’s of Social Work from Ball State University. Ms. Flores was appointed to the Ohio Attorney General’s Commission on the Study of Human Trafficking in 2009. She has also published two books, “The Sacred Bath” and “The Slave Across the Street”.

The incredible point about her story is her family; her grandfather was a judge and he served as the president of the democratic society. She believe her grandfather could never imagine his precious grandchild would become a sex slave to a group of men for two long years. She says “Nothing made me exempt from being targeted, nothing protected me from being raped repeatedly and men paying to do so and nothing was available to me later to give me justice and try to put back the pieces of my life.”

Her Story:

“I grew up in the upper middle class of the mid-west. I was a good, Irish Catholic girl. My dad was a big executive. He got regular promotions and we were transferred every two years. Bigger houses, nicer cars. My sophomore year of high school, we moved from a small country town to an affluent suburb of Detroit.

Shortly after I moved there, I developed a crush on a boy. Since I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16, he spent a lot of time just talking to me. Just being nice. And then one day he offered me a ride home from school. By then I had a crush on him, I was 15, thought this was great. But he ended up driving to HIS house first. Red flags went off in my head. I had been well taught. But I ignored the red flags and because I knew him and thought everything would be ok. He invited me to come inside and again I ignored the red flags I believed everyone was a good person.

But that afternoon, all the red flags were right and I was drugged and then raped. I was a virgin, Catholic and from a good family. It was devastating. I didn’t tell my parents because I thought they would be mad at me for disobeying and I would just deal with it on my own. But it got worse.

Unknowingly, two of his male relatives that were involved in a large underground criminal ring had taken pictures. They had a Plan. And it was that I would be forced to earn them back by working for them. If I didn’t do what they said, they threatened to show the pictures to my father. It would have been shameful if he thought differently of me. They threatened to show them to my dad’s boss. In those days, he would have lost his job, which was the most important thing to him. They threatened to post the pictures around school and my reputation, with trying to make new friends was very important to me. And they said they would show them to my priest.

These men watched my every move. They were everywhere, placed in my school, in a class with me, went to same church, and would come by my part time fast food job. They always knew when my dad was out of town. Driving by slowly, parking on the street near the house, they knew when I was babysitting and were able to track me down everywhere I went. Occasionally cars would follow me home. A man in this group, with a knife on his lap would force me to get in and I would be taken and driven away. Not knowing where I would end up, know how long I would be gone, with no way of escaping until they were finished with me. Time and time again. And I was just a kid.

These men threatened to hurt my family if I told. Tortured me psychologically and physically daily for almost two years. And I was only 15. I became a middle class teenage sex slave to them to earn back the photos. I was taken places didn’t know where I was and forced to have sex with hundreds of men while it assisted their business. They made big deals, and lots of money off my pain. I was told “I own you” and occasionally dead animals would appear in my mailbox as a reminder of what would happen to me if I told anyone.

One night, as a junior in high school, I was kidnapped by men in this group and taken to an inner city Detroit nasty, dirty motel. It was announced, as I was dragged into the small motel room, with 2 dozen men waiting for my arrival, that ‘here was a reward, a payment for job well done‘. I had become an incentive for men to continue their hard work and this is what they could receive. I was “a payment for a job well done”, and that night, I was sold to the highest bidder. That night I was drugged, beaten and sexually molested to point of unconsciousness. When I woke up, I didn’t know where I was and had no way home. I had no ID, no money, and no shoes. No idea what to do!

No one helped me. No one saved me. There was no law against this back then. And no services to help me even if I had been rescued.

Every child is vulnerable in some way, no matter if you live in the inner city of Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati or Columbus or if you are raised with the best of everything. While many of the victims are runaways, girls in the foster care system sold by their own family members, there also are a lot of other Theresa’s out there too. I know, I get their emails pleading for help. My grandfather was a prominent judge and had the incredible honor of being selected as a juror at the Nuremburg Trials. My father was an executive with General Electric and it was not unusual to eat Sunday dinners with Monsignors and congressmen.

Yet I was vulnerable.

The night I was abducted and taken to an inner city motel, I went through more hell in those several hours than most people endure in their entire lives. These traffickers are good at what they do. They are smart, the demand is huge and they have found ways to make a great deal of money off innocent people.

It will take me a lifetime to recover from the psychological, physical and mental abuse that I endured for nearly two years as a child. The people that did this to me were never prosecuted. There was no law back then to protect me. And I ask you, are we so naïve to believe that this is a huge problem in other countries, but not here? Are we so naïve to believe that it can’t and doesn’t happen in our own state?”

Source: NNC

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