// December 26th, 2012 // Gangs and Organized
Over 140 years ago, the United States abolished slavery. Prior to that, human beings were captured from foreign countries and forcibly brought to the United Sates where they would be used as a cheap source of labor. Most often they were subsequently abused – both physically, sexually, and emotionally. The world began to recognize the atrocity of the practice and slowly, the practice was deemed illegal in country after country.
“Mary” was a newly married woman with a handsome husband and beautiful baby boy. Shortly after their marriage, the entire family was “captured” and forced into slave labor. The husband was separated from the wife and forced to pull plows in the field – he was fed so little that he eventually died of malnutrition. Mary worked hard in the fields too – so hard that she could not produce milk for her baby son. He died of starvation in her arms.
Thankfully the Civil War in the United States served to bring about the abolishment of this atrocity. Or did it?
“Mary”, mentioned above, is currently alive and well and working diligently to help stop “human trafficking” – a widespread problem that still takes place in countries around the world – including the United States. 140 years after the U.S. abolished slavery, an estimated 1 to 4 million persons are routinely bought and sold each year in countries around the world – most of these victims are women and children.
Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice was quoted as saying “”Trafficking in human beings is nothing less than a modern form of slavery” in Washington’s fifth annual “Trafficking in Persons” report. This shocking report indicated that fully half of the millions of victims are children and 80 percent are female. Victim’s countries of origin are typically economically disadvantaged countries – countries where both victims and perpetrators may deem anything better than their current status quo. Countries of destination typically include economically powerful countries such as Australia, Western Europe, and yes, the United States. The CIA recently estimated that 50,000 women and children are trafficked to the United States each year. They reported cases of Latvian women trafficked to Chicago, Mexican women and children trafficked to Florida, Ukrainian women and children trafficked to Los Angeles, and Japanese women trafficked to Hawaii. In almost all cases, these victims are forced into prostitution where a single child can earn a trafficker upwards of $30,000 or more per year.
The supply of victims is replenished in several different ways. In some cases, the victims are deceived into believing that there exist many opportunities in the country of their destination. They are deceived initially and once they arrive at the destination they soon discover that they are beaten if they complain and earn little or no money for their services. In other cases, “debt bondage” is the means of recruitment. Cambodia is notorious for this practice whereby family members or even friends will sell a child or woman for employment. In 2007, the price for a women or young girl was $500 – $700. Little inquiry is made as to what type of employment is involved and the unwilling victim is left to “repay” the debt by whatever means and rate their owner prescribes. The victims will typically be charged outlandish rates for “rent” in living conditions that are deplorable and outrageous charges for their living expense make it impossible for the victim to ever dig their way out of the hell they are placed in. Birth document and other forms of identification are stripped from the victim so they in effect, become nameless. And of course, a popular form of recruitment, especially for recruitment of children, is kidnapping the victim off the street.
Human trafficking occurs in the United States too.
15-year-old Melissa, was a straight A student in Phoenix, Arizona. One night her friend Joanne, asked her to spend the night. Melissa agreed and wearing Sponge Box pajamas, she waited for Joanne at the curb. Joanne arrived in a Cadillac driven by two young men. Joanne stepped out of the car and they began to talk. As she leaned forward toward the open car door, Joanne pushed Melissa into the back seat of the vehicle.
One of the men immediately told Melissa that they would shoot Joanne if she did not comply. Joanne then taped Melissa’s wrist behind her back and put tape over her eyes. They drove around for a few hours and eventually stopped at an apartment 25 miles away. One of the men put a gun to her head and asked how she would like to die – shot in the head, the chest, or the stomach. He then pulled the trigger. She heard an empty “click” and the man began laughing.
At the apartment, Melissa was then gang raped by the two young men. She heard a middle aged man in the other room call out, “bring her here and let me see what I’m working with.” He then raped her. Four more men entered the room and also gang raped her. Then they began to break her down.
They would ask Melissa if she was hungry and if she said “yes”, the would give her a dog biscuit to eat. She was forced to sleep in a crate so small that when she awoke, her legs and arms would be numb. During this time, men were brought to the apartment and allowed to have sex with her. She soon discovered that they were paying for the sex and she realized she was being used as a prostitute. She estimates 50 men slept with her during her stay at the apartment. She felt so nasty.
Her captors methodically threatened to kill her family, describing in detail what they would do to them if she tried to escape. They described how they would kill her small sister with battery acid and what they would do to her mother before they killed her. Melissa later told police later that she cooperated and did her best to please her captors for fear of the safety of her family.
After 40 days of captivity, police received a tip that a young girl was being held captive in the apartment. They obtained a warrant and searched the home but found no trace of the little girl. Not giving up, they returned a week later and conducted another search of the premises. This time they discovered why they had not found her the first time. She had been stuffed into a small drawer and tucked under the bed. Melissa explained that she had heard them searching the apartment but was too scared to say anything.
How to spot a human trafficking victim
Victims of human trafficking are unusually difficult to spot, particularly since they are often kept out of site or in the case of prostitution, are usually only seen in the seediest parts of town. Some things to look for include:
1. People who lack basic English skills and/or seem afraid to communicate.
2. People whose freedom of movement seems curtailed.
3. A child who is in a living situation that seems strange, one who does housework at odd hours, who does not play with other children or go to school.
4. Properties that seem designed to keep people in rather than intruders out or properties with an unusual degree of protection (e.g. razor wire).
5. People who seem physically and psychologically abused
6. Brothels or massage parlors that pop up in residential areas with mostly foreign women or girls.
7. A factory that seems to employ persons who fit the above descriptions.
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