Lawmakers in the U.S. Work to End Underground Sex Trafficking

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Olivia Elswick, Asia CorrespondentLast Modified: 1:06 p.m. DST, 22 May 2014

"For Sale" Photo by: Spring Tripp-Reilly

WASHINGTON, D.C.  -  The FBI estimates that 293,000 American youth are at risk of being trafficked in the underground sex trade. Lawmakers in the House are proposing a bill package aimed at shutting down the nation’s multimillion dollar sex trafficking industry, up for vote on Tuesday.

The measures include exploitation close to home as well as resolutions condemning the kidnapping in Nigeria of 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, an armed terrorist group that has threatened to sell the girls into forced marriages.

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri sponsored a bill that would make it a federal crime for advertisers to display child and adult trafficking victims on their websites.  Another bill urges states to enact laws that treat minors who have been sold for sex as victims rather than criminals when they are arrested.

The legislation includes a formal condemnation of the Nigerian schoolgirl kidnapping on 14 April, a requirement for states to identify and address sex trafficking of children in foster care, and a request of the State Department to give “advance notice of intended travel” for sex offenders convicted of child abuse.

Additionally it would impose additional financial penalties on sex traffickers and increase restitution to victims.  It offers employment assistance through Jobs Corps to the victims, and provides more resources to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. It would require convicted sex traffickers to report to authorities every three months and appear on the National Sex Offender Registry for life.

Cindy McCain, co-chair of Arizona governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, and wife of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said, "This is beginning to reach critical mass in the U.S. and people are paying attention to it.” McCain, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, met with Mexican government officials to discuss ways to end sex trafficking across the border.

“We can’t lead worldwide unless we clean up our own house first,” McCain told CNN. Human trafficking is the third-largest international crime behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking according to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Of the estimated $32 billion profits from human trafficking, it is estimated that $15.5 billion comes from industrialized nations.

In Portland, a pimp and his coworker approached Katie Rhoades, a 19-year-old homeless, drug-addicted stripper. Offering a better life as their recording studio production assistant, they lured in the teen. 72 hours after Rhoades moved from Portland to San Francisco she was held captive by the pair and forced to have sex for money. She was held hostage with other women in a building surrounded by a 6-foot fence topped with barbed wire and cameras, and guarded by pit bulls and an alarm system. When she finally escaped, she enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program, got clean, and earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work.

Rhoades now runs a victim advocacy group and helps to train hotel staff on recognizing sex trafficking. "We need stronger laws penalizing folks who facilitate the sex trade," Rhoades said. "If a hotel manager consciously turns a blind eye to allow this to occur in his hotel then he needs to be penalized."

There needs to be more resources for victims once they’re rescued, according to Dedee Lhamon. She is the executive director of The Covering House, a St. Louis shelter for children rescued from the sex trade. Children in her shelter are usually from suburbs or small towns, where they are conned into the sex trade under the guise of things such as a study-abroad program or “girls who are going to school or church and being rented out by a parent or someone who needs to get their drug supply.”

29 people in Minneapolis have been indicted in a significant sex trafficking case where the victims (some under the age of 14) were repeatedly victimized over several years and transported several places.

"As a parent, I can sympathize and only imagine how horrible it is as a parent to have a child that has been subjected to this horrific crime," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

This coming Wednesday, National Missing Children’s Day, the Department of Justice will honor seven people who helped to rescue missing or abused children. Holly Smith, author of “Walking Prey,” a book written about her experiences when she was sex trafficked at 14, will speak at the event.

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Asia Correspondent: @OCELswick

Paedophilia Sex Ring Busted in UK

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 13:14 p.m. EDT, 17 January 2013

Young Girl Mannequin, Photo by NachtjägerOXFORD, England -- Over eight years, girls as young as 11-years-old were exposed to unbelievable sexual acts and behavior. They were being trafficked around the UK by male gang members out of Oxford.

The victims endured extreme physical and sexual violence, and some victims were even sold for prostitution. The men each face a total of 51 counts of charges that range from rape, forcing a child into prostitution, and trafficking. From 2004 to 2012, six of the victims were given drugs and drinks before being repeatedly raped for days at a time by multiple men.

The men targeted girls from chaotic backgrounds, who they then coerced into recruiting other girls for the sex ring. At times, members of the gang received payments for any new child prostitutes the girls brought in.

All nine of the men, ages ranging from 24 to 38, deny the charges against them. It has been stated that there are more men involved as well. The trial is expected to last eight to twelve weeks. Nine men face 19 counts of rape, seven of them with a child under the age of 13, arranging or facilitating child prostitution, trafficking within the UK, and using instruments in to induce miscarriages. The jury was told to prepare themselves for the evidence that would be brought before them in the court.

The girls were taken to guests houses as well as vacant houses, where they were abused and prevented from escaping. The men conducted perverted acts on the young girls such as biting, suffocation, burning, and scratching. The men carried and used weapons to torture the girls which included knives, baseball bats, and meat cleavers, while some men went as far as urinating on the young girls.

As previously stated, the girls involved were from chaotic backgrounds which made it easy for these men to take advantage of the girls' desire for positive male attention. Under this guise, the men initially plied the girls with gifts, and lavished attention on them which they craved, with the goal of enslaving them.

These benign gifts soon gave way to heroine, crack, cocaine, and cannabis, resulting in addiction. The addictions eventually made the girls dependent on the men in order to feed their drug addiction. The girls were often threatened with grievous bodily harm or even death if they tried to escape. To further alienate them, the men threatened to also kill their families as well.

The ring functioned like an out-call prostitution service where men would make appointments then travel from places as far as Bradford, Leeds, London and Slough to pay to have sex with the under aged females. Sometimes, the pimps delivered the girls to customers by ferry to London and Bournemouth.

One girl, who can not be named, was 12-years-old when she was targeted by the gang. Just like many of the other young girls, she was tortured and subjected to extreme physical, sexual, and psychological abuse for the next 3 years until she was able to escape at age 15.

Though it is likely that many of the men involved in the ring as well as their customers are paedophiles, it is just as certain that these men are misogynist. The men involved in this reprehensible crime were not only unbelievably cruel, but also perverted. Unfortunately, these young girls have been scarred for life, and have had their childhood irrevocably taken from them.

Innocent children should never be subjected to acts of this sort no matter what their backgrounds, country of origin or religion. Global trafficking of children for prostitution is not a new phenomenon; however, most people generally think of this as a problem unique to and more prevalent in developing nations.

They would in fact be surprised that in "America, approximately 250,000 children are trafficked each year, the average age of entering prostitution is thirteen. Many of these children entered prostitution from homelessness or as an escape from an abusive situation. The documentary 'Very Young Girls' introduces the audience to girls who have been manipulated by their pimps, beaten and raped, sold for sex and then sent to jail. (Source: Fem 2.0)

That it happens anywhere is a travesty. That it happened in the UK raises eyebrows though it shouldn't. No country or society is immune to this scourge which has earned the moniker of 'the oldest profession in the world.'

However, this assignation is only applicable to women and men who willingly chose to ply this trade, not girls or boys who are coerced, beaten, kidnapped, or otherwise forced to engage in this industry. It is incumbent upon us all to face the ugly truth of this problem and to persist in shining a light on this horrendous darkness.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe
 

FBI Rescues 79 American Child Sex Slaves

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:20 PM EDT, 25 June 2012

FBI Badge & Gun (Cropped), Source (Wikipedia)The FBI announced the results of a three-day operation during which 79 minors were rescued and 104 pimps were arrested. Today’s announcement demonstrated that the problem of large-scale trafficking of children into sexual slavery is not limited to foreign countries.

This latest coordinated effort marked the sixth deployment of “Operation Cross Country," implemented to free children who became ensnared in the nightmare of prostitution through online media venues such as social media websites, chat rooms and text messaging.

Despite aggressive television, billboard, and internet campaigns warning parents and caregivers of the insidious tactics employed by increasingly sophisticated predators, young people continue to post personal information on the web at an alarming rate.

According to the website Internet Safety 101.org:

  • 29% of Internet sex crime relationships were initiated on a social networking site. (Journal of Adolescent Health 27, 2010)
  • In 26% of online sex crimes against minors, offenders disseminated information and/or pictures of the victim through the victim's personal social networking site. (Journal of Adolescent Health 47, 2010)
  • 33% of all Internet-initiated sex crimes involved social networking sites. (Journal of Adolescent Health 47, 2010)
  • 72% of teens have a social networking profile and nearly half (47%) have a public profile viewable by anyone.
  • Frequently children in 4th-6th grade levels engage in social networking activities. In the process they post personal, potentially exploitable, information about themselves online. Specifically, and within the last school year: 16% posted personal interests online, 15% posted information about their physical activities and 20% gave out their real name. In addition, 5% posted information about their school, 6% posted their home address, 6% posted their phone number and 9% posted pictures of themselves.
  • Teens often include the following information on their social networking profile.
  • Real age (50%)
  • Photos of themselves (62%)
  • City they live in (41%)
  • School name/location (45%)
  • Videos of friends (16%)
  • Videos of themselves (14%)
  • Their cell phone number (14%)
  • Places where they typically go (9%) (Source: Internet Safety 101.org)

The majority of the children rescued were girls between the ages of 11 and 13, but there were some boys. Most of the children were enticed by the promise of greater liberation from parental authority, while others were tempted by things as inconsequential as cell phones or other minor gifts.

As with most human trafficking cases, once captured the victims remain enslaved through psychological abuse and torture. Many are told that either they or their loved one will be killed if they try to escape or contact the authorities. The children freed during this operation are at the beginning of their journey to freedom.

Though these children have been physically freed, they have a long road ahead of them to achieve physical and psychological healing. Previous reports state that victims liberated during previous phases of "Operation Cross Country" have had severe difficulties adjusting and in some cases their behaviors were so anti-social that battered and abused and runaway shelters refuse to admit them.

These raids are a promising start and hopefully the American public will continue to increase its national and international awareness, advocacy and support of the hundreds of thousands of children who fall victim to perfidious sex traffickers every day.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Want Sex with Children? Contact Craigslist

This morning Americans were greeted with recaps of CNN's sobering and scathing report about child sex trafficking on Craigslist. This is not the first time that this allegation has made headlines, however, last night's exposé signaled the beginning of a frontal assault on a long smoldering problem of Craigslist facilitating the trafficking and sale of children for sex. Last month, two young girls sold for sex on Craigslist wrote letters to CEO Jim Buckmaster and Craig Newmark. One of them, M.C. who was first forced into prostitution at 11, told them she was forced to post her own ads to Craigslist during the day, and then answer them at night. Her pimp drove her around the country for years, using Craigslist as the primary means to advertise her. If she didn't post on Craigslist, M.C.'s pimp would beat her and dunk her in ice water baths. The website was a central figure in the years of slavery and abuse she suffered.

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