Human TraffickingPosted by on November 19, 2010 in News
When I attended the National Sexual Assault conference back in September, human trafficking was one of the major topics that was focused on. It was something I had known about. I had seen it shown in movies like Taken, which made me scared to think about traveling to Europe or Mexico. At the conference, I was clued into the reality that this is happening worldwide and right in the city I live in. I had never thought of prostitution as a form of trafficking, but it absolutely is.
One man presenting at a workshop talked about his work in juvenile courts and prisons specifically with girls who have been arrested for prostitution. He said, “If you want to see just how bad it is. I challenge you to take a few hours and go spend it in the juvenile courts.” He told us that, in case after case, we would see beautiful, young girls standing before a judge trying to look tough – like what they were going through wasn’t a big deal. We would see them looking around for their pimp, the man who exploited them and made them feel like they had a father-type figure looking out for them. Then we would see the tears streaming down their faces as they realize they have no one there for them.
The other day I had the opportunity to attend a human trafficking task force meeting with professionals from LAPD, FBI, HLS, the District Attorney’s Office, and more. It’s a scary reality that this problem is continuing to grow, and there isn’t nearly enough help for it or awareness about it.
From what I understand, the first hurdle in these types of cases is identifying who the victims are before they are arrested. This is not an easy task since the victims in these cases appear to be the ones offending. Once they’re arrested, it becomes nearly impossible to give them the help they need. And even if we do give them assistance, we don’t have places for them to go.
It’s these kinds of problems that organizations are working on addressing right now. As with any type of abuse, awareness is the key to fighting it. If you have the time, do some googling on the subject. What you learn will shock and appall you. Annually there is an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 people trafficked into the United States. Most of these are children and women. This is a number that isn’t much lower than that of all the undergraduate students who attend my school. One word for this: UNACCEPTABLE.