When did slavery end? No, it was not with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery is alive and well today. You may think that if it’s alive it’s in Africa or some other third world country, as I did, until I heard a talk at our church about human trafficking in Los Angeles. Human trafficking is happening right in your back yard, except you’ve never seen it.
How does human trafficking work? Two examples: A young girl runs away from home; within a few days she will be approached by a human trafficker and groomed. She will be told that the person talking to her cares for her and that he will take care of her. With time she will learn to trust this person as her boyfriend who has her interest at heart. Once she commits to this fellow, he drops the hammer. He’ll tell her that they can make a huge amount of money in the sex business. He assures her that he loves her and that sex with others for money is not that bad and it really validates their relationship. If she objects he will turn to intimidation. He will tell her that if she refuses he will hurt her and her family. The human trafficking pimps are so good at what they do that they manage to take complete control of the girls by threats of physical and psychological intimidation. At a recent church human trafficking workshop, an LAPD Lieutenant who is the head the Human Trafficking Division told this story of a young girl they interviewed: This young girl told her story about how she got enmeshed in this. The police were able to arrest the pimp and prepare a criminal case against him. When they went to court the girl refused to testify against the pimp for fear of reprisal.
A second way young girls get involved goes something like this: A beautiful young woman is working at a department store. A well dressed gorgeous woman approaches her and tells her that she knows a job she can get her that will pay her way more than she can make at the store. She tells the young woman that she can pick her up after her shift and take her to her office where she will lay out her case. The young woman agrees. At the end of her shift she picks her up in a brand new Mercedes-Benz. The young lady is now very impressed, She takes her to her office where she meets this hunk of a young man who just sweeps her off her feet. This young man then grooms her until she is in. He then tells her what her real job will be: sex for money. If she objects, the threat will come. Threats of violence both to her and her family.
Here are some facts about human trafficking:
1. There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today, that’s the highest number in history
2 Human trafficking has been identified as the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, second only to drug trafficking.
3. The United States is one of the top three destination points for human trafficking, with California, Nevada, New York, and Texas as the top states.
4. According to estimates, 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation and 19% labor exploitation.
5. The average age for of a young woman in human trafficking is now 12 years old. Click here for more information.
An important point made by the LAPD Lieutenant mentioned earlier: Victims of human trafficking are NOT prostitutes. They are victims. A 12-year old girl does not volunteer to be a sex slave.
Click here for a 43-minute documentary by CNN called Amber Lyon’s Documentary.
What can we do? Be informed and inform others. If you run into anyone involved in human trafficking give them a number they can call for help. Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-3737-888; or contact Zoe at 661-255-7963.
Read the book: How You can Fight Human Trafficking by Susan Patterson and Through God’s Grace Ministry. You can buy it on Amazon.com