A closer look at trafficking in the United States

For many the word, ‘trafficking’, is still undefined. Often we may think of someone who lives in another country or speaks another language but the truth is trafficking and exploitation of women and girls happens here in the United States, and has been for longer than we might think.

In 1968 a white, America girl was trafficked inmid-west Michigan. She was 15 years old. She had two parents who loved her. Shewas raised in a Christian home. She had a dog and loved talking on the phone to
her girlfriends. Sound familiar? While attending class at her local high schoolan older boy offered her a ride home. As a 15-year-old girl she was thrilled tohave a ride home. Instead of taking herhome he took her to his house where he drugged her (by offering her a coke) andthen raped her, at the same time another boy took pictures. Embarrassed and ashamedTheresa did not share the rape with her parents. The boys were connected to atrafficking ring and used the pictures, shame and fear to coerce Theresa intohaving sex other members of this group. For two years Theresa would betrafficked even she would continue attending school and sleeping in her ownbed. What strikes you about this story? Is it that it took place more than 40 yearsago? Is it that it is about an American girl from a wealthy family?

What struck me is that she held in a prison but ofphysical chains but lies, shame and fear. Theresa’s story illustrates well thesame prison and mind games which keep women in the sex industry, may that bepornography, strip clubs or prostitutions- all are forms of exploitation! Inconnection to trafficking; women in the sex industry have been isolated fromtheir families, they live in fear, and do not get to keep most, if any of themoney they make. Homeland Security and Polaris Project define trafficking as: sellingor forced labor or sex of a person through force, fraud or coercion, nomovement is needed.

Boston is thefifth largest city for trafficking.[1]In the city of Boston there are 250 known pimps. On Beacon Street there are 54escort services and these are just the known services. There are more than 30
strip clubs across the state of Massachusetts.

No little girl says, “I want to be a stripper (orprostitute) when I grow up.”

The truth is that 90% of women who work in the sexindustry were sexually abused while under the age of 18. [2]Women who work in the sex industry range in ages from 14 to 62 years old, Ihave seen both. Women are spit on, slapped, have beer thrown on them and are oftenstalked and/or murdered. Who would freelychoose this life?

What of the men who buy sex? In 2013 more than 600women and girls were arrested for prostitution but what about the 600 men whobought them? Hardly ever is a man arrested for buying and even more rarely arepimps arrested. While women most often come from families of poverty or despairor abuse the men are usually high paid professionals. Most men are white,married with two kids.[3]And most buyers are social workers. [4]

This matters to God! It should matter to His people.In Proverbs it says, “The poor and the rich have this in common, God is thecreator of them both.” We, who are free are rich. Also, just as the Lord saidto Israel, “Don’t forget you were once slaves in Egypt.” We can’t forget thatwe too were once slaves and now we are free.

Bringing an end starts with YOU & ME!

What can you do?

  1. Put the trafficking hotline number in your cell phone: 888-3737-888
  2. Invite a survivor of trafficking to share their story at your next church orcommunity event. Contact Jasmine Marino.
  3. Support your local non-profit in their efforts or sponsor their next fundraiser. Contact sdurfey@egc.org or bgatchell@egc.org
  4. Stop watching porn.
  5. Pray! Pray against exploitation.
  6. Share this information with the people you know.

[1]Polaris Project, 2013. www.polarisproject.org
[2]The national average is 25-35% of women have been sexually abused.
[3]New Group Targets People Who Solicit Sex While at work. The Seattle Times.Sept. 2015
[4]Rachel Moran her book reading Oct. 1, 2015.

Image: Pabak Sarkar

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