By Jeannie Langston for SNAP
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 —
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services,” such as domestic workers held in a home or farm-workers forced to labor against their will. Then, that control is tied to inducing someone into commercial sex acts or labor or services.
Every year, human traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world and here in the United States. Human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world.
Sex traffickers frequently target vulnerable people with histories of abuse and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry.
Sex trafficking exists within the broader commercial sex trade, often at much larger rates than most people realize or understand. Sex trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues of the overall sex industry, including residential brothels, hostess clubs, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs and street prostitution.
When it came time for the Super Bowl, Clemmie Greenlee was expected to sleep with anywhere from 25 to 50 men a day. It’s a staggering figure, but it doesn’t shock advocates who say that the sporting event attracts more traffickers than any other in the U.S.
Greenlee, a former sex trafficking victim who was abducted and raped by her captors at 12, stated that she was shuttled around cities in the south to work as a prostitute at large-scale events.
Another victim, Brianna, who had just turned 18, thought she met the man of her dreams. Nick was a gorgeous blond football player dressed in Gucci, designer denim and an expensive watch.
“I noticed him right away,” Brianna said.
“He flirted with me and made me feel so special and beautiful. I’ve never been talked to like that. When I told him I liked his watch, he said, ‘I’d like to buy you one to match.’ ”
Nick invited her to visit him in Seattle, and when she saw his chromed-out Mercedes and stately Victorian house, she felt she had wandered into a dream. When her family adamantly told her she could not spend the night with him, he told her to break her ties with them and move into his spare room. He also suggested she could attend college while doing a little work on the side. Why not try dancing in a club? Nick asked, adding that his former girlfriend did that and made “tons of money doing little work.”
Within hours, Nick had taken Brianna to get an entertainer’s license, helped her choose her stripper’s outfit and led her to a strip club. Sensing her potential, Nick offered to take her on a trip to Arizona and Nevada, where Brianna most likely would have been completely cut off from her friends and family and disappeared into forced prostitution.
“I learned that the average age of girls lured into sex trafficking is 13,” said Brianna, choking up at the memory.
“When I was 13, I was playing softball and having the greatest time of my life. How easy would it have been for them to trick me?”
A ring was recently discovered that recruited young school girls starting around the age of 12. A young man poses as a student, befriends the girls and poses as her boyfriend. Shortly after the girls are in love with the young man, he starts preparing them for the sex trade. These girls are coerced into selling themselves to help the man they love.
The travesty of human trafficking is a blight on our society that takes our young girls and turns them into prostitutes. Being informed about how these “business men” operate can help us protect our children from this hideous crime.
If you have been a victim of trafficking, rape or domestic violence, call Esther House for help at (704) 961-7500.