Global SEX Trafficking

Statue entitled "The White Slave"

Image via Wikipedia

Studies are made, and actions proposed and the results remain the same. This is a world-wide global issue and the United Nations should take this on as a priority. Yet, this is not important enough to get on the agenda of topics to be discussed. There are always more pressing issues in the eyes of the politicians, issues that concern MONEY and not that of the plight of the people. We are not in this world to be slaves of the Pimps, the Mafias, and the Corrupt politicians. We are people and should be treated as such!

In the 21st century, women, mostly from South America, Southeast Asia, and the former Soviet Union, are trafficked into the United States for sexual slavery.Contrary to some existing misconceptions, American citizens are also coerced into sex slavery.

In 2001 the United States State Department estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 women and girls are trafficked each year in the United States. In 2003, the State Department report estimated that 18,000 to 20,000 individuals were trafficked here for forced labor and sexual exploitation. The June 2004 report set the total trafficked annually at between 14,500 and 17,500. However, the Bush administration set up 42 Justice Department task forces and spent more than $150 million. But in the seven years since the law was passed, The administration has identified only 1,362 victims of human trafficking brought into the United States since 2000, nowhere near the 50,000 a year the government had estimated.

Many times these girls are some of the most vulnerable that are thrust into this industry. According to Girl’s Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS), an organization based in New York, the majority of girls that are thrown into this industry were abused as children. Poverty and a lack of education play major roles in the lives of the women in this industry. According to a report conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, anywhere from 100,000 up to 300,000 American children are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation at any given time. As described in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons report, “The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor, debt bondage, and forced prostitution.”

Sexual slavery in the United States occurs in multiple forms and in multiple venues. Popular forms of sex trafficking in the United States are Asian massage parlors, Mexican cantina bars, residential brothels, and street-based pimp-controlled prostitution. There is now a divide among the anti-trafficking community in the United States over the extent of sexual slavery. Some groups view all prostitution as abusive and coerced, arguing that the exploitation is inherent in the act of commercial sex. Other groups take looser approaches to defining prostitution and sex slavery, considering the elements of force, fraud, and coercion to be necessary for sex slavery to exist.

Asian apartment massage parlors exist all over the USA, especially in Silicon Valley, California. Many of the prostitutes are women from Korea, either brought illegally across the borders of Mexico and Canada, or with the use of fake student visas. A Sunnyvale police officer was accused of human trafficking and taking bribes from the local highly organized crime syndicate. The prostitutes are forced to work out of apartment complexes for many hours a day. They are forced to use narcotics and amphetamines and to have sex with many men. Also, they often have to undergo plastic surgery and forced abortions.

Sex trafficking simultaneously exploits both the best and the worst aspects of globalization. The champions of globalization tout the growing ease of conducting business across national borders. Sophisticated communication tools and relaxed banking laws make it possible to exchange assets internationally with ease. Virtual enterprises can operate everywhere and nowhere, making themselves known only when and where they choose.

Organized crime syndicates take advantage of these tools to create more efficient overseas networks. Although most trafficking originates with local operators, they deftly connect to an international sex industry looking to fill slots in brothels, massage parlors, strip joints, and lap dance bars.

A club owner in Chicago can pick up the phone and “mail-order” three beautiful young girls from eastern Europe. Two weeks later a fresh shipment of three Slavic girls will be dancing in his club. Though a number of quasi-independent traffickers were likely involved in moving the girls, the operation would seem seamless to the Chicago client.

The critics of globalization point out that capital flows wherever it can most easily exploit cheap labor. The owners of capital will abandon a specific place quickly once one of two conditions occurs: (1) the assets it exploits are depleted, or (2) those assets can be obtained more cheaply in other markets.

Sex trafficking also manifests itself in this form. Over the past three decades, the prime area for recruiting sex slaves has shifted rapidly from one zone of economic depression to another. In the 1970s, traffickers targeted girls from Southeast Asia “above all Thailand and Vietnam” as well as the Philippines. After ten years or so of mining in Asia, traffickers shifted their focus to African girls from Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana flooded the international sex bazaars. In the mid-1980s and spilling over into the early 1990s, Latin American girls from Brazil, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Central America (especially El Salvador and Guatemala) became the favored pool.

As a global problem, we must take action to stop it in its’ tracks. Yet, greed, corruption and the disdain for human life prevents any possibility of this happening any time soon.