Archive for the ‘Human Trafficking Is…’ Category

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photo courtesy of Wikipedia

With Hugh Hefner’s death, the media has erupted in praise for his alleged contributions to society through the pornography magazine he founded, Playboy.

In reality, Hefner leaves behind a colossal legacy of sexual exploitation.

Playboy popularized the commodification of the female body in soft-core pornography magazines in the 1950s, and it laid the groundwork for the public health crisis of pornography that America is experiencing today.
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Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime worldwide. As organizations, non-profits, and concerned citizens join together to eradicate this plight, we must also understand the factors that contribute to this epidemic. Human trafficking is not a single entity to be cut down but a web of intertwining problems, underground roots that need to be dug up, brought to light and acknowledged for what they are, contributors to a massive problem.

Prostitution

6355388579_0312787bde_mMore women and girls in the U.S. are forced into prostitution (sex trafficking) than into other form of trafficking. Pimps (traffickers) use force, fraud, and/or coercion to intimidate, persuade, manipulate, whatever it takes, to get the victim to perform sexual acts (sometimes becoming the victim of violence) with stranger after stranger after stranger. Victims are mentally and often physically abused if they don’t comply. While there are a few women that choose prostitution as a means of income, most women are on the streets or in a brothel against their will.

Most women only live about seven years once the enter a “life” of prostitution. The mental and physical abuse they endure, from both their trafficker and their “clients”, often cause the victim to succumb to an early death.

Pornography

kid20on20laptop20with20shocked20facePornography is a billion dollar industry…that’s billion…with a “B”! Most pornographic material is professionally made, at least it used to be, but amateur videographers/photographers are on the rise. Traffickers are using the internet to profit from the abuse and rape of their victims.

Several porn “stars” have come forward exposing the graphic violence they’ve endured in the name of “free press” or “free expression”. They are often humiliated, abused, tortured, raped,  and subjected to the vilest of things imaginable.

Large Sporting Events

pexels-photo-270085Large, highly attended sporting events are a mecca for human trafficking, both for the solicitation and the recruitment for sex trafficking. With the up-coming Olympics as well as yearly events like the Super Bowl, and the World Cup, local police and human trafficking task force members notice a significant jump in online sex ads, hotline tips, prostitution and pimping arrests and other illegal activity.

Social Media

pexels-photo-359757With so many children and young adults using an average of three social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat, etc.) predators have also turned to social media to scout for their next victim. Predators hide behind their fake online ID and manipulate children into acts they normally wouldn’t do (sexting) only to later blackmail them into more and more obscene and heinous acts (sextortion). They threaten to expose the child/teen to friends and family if they don’t comply with their sickening fetishes. These children often fall into a spiral of self loathing, shame, embarrassment, hopelessness, and in a few cases despair resulting in suicide.

Here is an article that suggests a way to end the battle of human trafficking against online sex ads.

Online Gaming

Two players playing video games on TV at homeWith online gaming, through PCs, smartphones, and gaming systems becoming more prevalent, so is the presence of traffickers. They use online gaming to expose unsuspecting players to pornography (through pop-up ads) as well as chatting with gamers, feigning friendship or romantic relationship and eventually encouraging them to meet in real life.

Foster Care

pexels-photo-295208Every year 23,000 children age out of foster care (age out: child turns 18 years old and the foster parent(s) are no longer paid by the government to support the child). Many of these “adults” are still in high school and are now homeless and have no support system. They are turned loose on the streets and right into the hands of traffickers happily waiting for them.

A solution to the foster care crisis is adoption. Most people have a misunderstanding of the adoption process. Adoption myths must be debunked and made widely known so more loving adults will be inclined to adopt and give a deserving teen a forever home.

                     “A child is never too old for a loving, forever family”

Another problem with the foster care system that needs to be addressed is the human trafficking that happens within the foster care system. More social workers are needed who know and recognize the signs of human trafficking and monitor the 428,000 children currently in the foster care system here in the U.S. Though not occurring at phenomenal rates, children and teens do fall through the government’s cracks and are placed in abusive homes and are sometimes trafficked by the same people who promised to care and provide for them.

cocoa-man-colombia-peasant-50707Forced Labor

Worldwide forced labor makes up 68% of all reported human trafficking cases. Forced labor/labor trafficking includes:

  • agriculture
  • construction
  • domestic work
  • manufacturing
  • door-to-door sales
  • restaurants
  • carnivals
  • health & beauty services

Labor trafficking happens in every state, in every country. It is so hidden in plain sight many do not even know a trafficked victim when they see one. There are signs to watch for but each victim is different and some don’t show visible signs of trafficking.

As consumers, one way to combat labor trafficking is simply looking for the label “fair trade”. All products displaying that label claim to have no labor trafficking in any part of their product production. Check out Slavery Footprint to learn more about how labor trafficking impacts how your favorite products are made.

Laws and Legislation

pexels-photo-534204As knowledge and awareness regarding human trafficking increases, so do laws regarding human trafficking. Right now there are still too many law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and jury members across the country that do not have adequate information regarding human trafficking.

As citizens, we can support legislation by:

  • Signing petitions for tougher sentencing, safe harbor laws, and to raise the age for aging out of foster care to 21.
  • Attend court proceedings to show support for the prosecution and the victim (many of whom have no support other than their lawyer and social worker)
  • Attend town hall meetings with local government officials and discuss what they are doing locally to combat human trafficking
  • Learn as much as you can about the topics discussed in this article
  • Share what you learn with everyone (including this website)
Ignorance

pexels-photo-97077In a day & age where information is a mouse-click away, ignorance should be a thing of the past. Movies & TV shows (Criminal Minds, Burn Notice, and American Crime to name a few) have used human trafficking as their “hot topic” for years now. It surprises me when someone admits they’ve never heard of human trafficking.

Just about everyone has heard of prostitution, pornography, and slavery…human trafficking is all those things and more. We must not close our eyes and shove this dark, heinous secret into a shadowed corner. We must drag it out into the light. We must talk about it openly and honestly with everyone. We must take power away from the traffickers and place it into the hands of the victims. They must have a voice and they can’t have one if we don’t acknowledge the problem.

Demand

man-person-hands-coffeeMany supporters of prostitution, legal or not, explain their defense as “prostitution has always been around and will continue indefinitely for there will always be a demand for it.”

How do we lessen or stop the demand of those wishing to purchase sex?

In one article, men actually believed they were helping the women by purchasing sex from them and were surprised to learn prostitution is not a victimless crime. “John Schools” are one way the U.S Justice Department is trying to bring awareness and decrease demand of prostitution.

Cyberbullying

pexels-photo-220357Cyberbullying is involved with human trafficking in two different ways.

1. Children are bullied causing them to feel bad about themselves. They feel depressed, anxious, or even suicidal. Enter trafficker. The trafficker makes them feel loved, special, beautiful and important then uses that superficial, artificial bond to exploit the child.

2. Another way is through sextortion. A trafficker will manipulate and coerce the victim overtime into producing more and more compromising images (photos and videos) of themselves that are shared through private chats, texts or emails. The trafficker threatens to expose the victim by sharing the erotic and inappropriate media to others, including friends and family, if the victim ever tries to stop. There are even cases of victims being photographed or video taped without their knowledge or consent. The victim is left shattered, embarrassed, humiliated and most importantly, hopeless. They give into the traffickers demands endlessly.

Gangs & Organized Crime

4221340262_f7f7bbd5d1_mHuman trafficking is so lucrative organized crime is wedging in on the action. Guns and drugs can only be sold once, but a human being can be sold over and over and over and over…

 

 

Victim Assistance

pcqreqe9iVictim Assistance does so much to help victims of human trafficking. However, they often don’t have the funding or resources to help enough. The government is slowly increasing it’s acknowledgement of human trafficking and with it, hopefully, money and manpower. They can’t rescue victims if they have no place to put them or resources to educate them so they can earn a living. Many rescued victims were children when they became victims, some from abusive home to which they cannot return, are scarred by the trauma they’ve endured and are in need of counseling.

What can you do?

  • Support organizations that help human trafficking victims such as Salvation Army. You can make direct donations to the organization or through Amazon Smile.
  • Find local nonprofit organizations in your community that help victims of human trafficking at volunteermatch.org and justserve.org.
  • Hold a garage sale, car wash or talent show and donate the money to a local human trafficking awareness organization.
Homelessness and Poverty

gloomy-mystical-style-mood-159069People living in poverty or homelessness are often more susceptible to human traffickers. They are more apt to be exploited as they are often desperate, hopeless, mentally ill, and/or addicts. Some victims sell themselves simply to survive, trading sex acts for food or shelter. Others to feed a drug or alcohol addiction they can’t control on their own.

In several third world countries, families are manipulated into selling their children to traffickers who promise to give the child a better life. Unbeknownst to the family they have sold their child into a life of slavery.

conclusionIn Conclusion

So what does one do with all this overwhelming information?

  1. Educate yourself and those you love. By knowing these dangers exist you have already decreased your chances of falling victim to traffickers and their ploys.
  2. Parental controls – download or install software on all your internet connected devices. Monitor your child’s online behavior. Get to know their friends (children under 12 shouldn’t be “online friends” with anyone they don’t know in real life).
  3. Make sure your children know you love and value them. If you don’t, they’ll find someone else who will and that someone could be a trafficker.
  4. Keep an open line of communication with your children and teenagers. They need to know they have someone in their corner.

 

 

Today, I’m opening the floor up for discussion.

 

Below, I’ve shared links to articles of controversial topics related to human trafficking. Please share your opinions and comments below.

 

 

 

Procon.org

CATW International

The Guardian

 

 

 

Inthesetimes.com

 

 

 

Fight the New Drug

“Pimp” is a dangerous word. Misuse it enough and it loses its true meaning—it’s a human trafficker.

 

People use “pimp” to describe something cool or awesome or, worst of all, to make something better. (For example, rapper Xzibit had a show called “Pimp My Ride,” meaning boring cars were made into something desirable.)

So why use the term?

A decade ago, pimps (human traffickers) didn’t have to worry about law enforcement to the severity they do now. Women and children got arrested, charged, and put in prison. Rarely, the pimps were caught.

Those same pimps strut around flashing their stacks of money, flashy cars, and expensive jewelry, behaving as if they are above the law as if they are untouchable. The pimps promote themselves and their way of life, evoking a sense of envy in wannabe pimps…tons of money and very little work.

Unfortunately, society has adopted the “awesomeness” (the perceived glamor of having limitless money and control of someone else) of the pimp culture and promoted it through television, movies, books, and social media.

 

Abuses of the Term “Pimp”

Below are some examples.

 

Music

 

Music groups such as The Pimps, Sneaker Pimps, The Pimps of Joytime, and The Goodyear Pimps… Really? That’s the best name you could come up with?

Song Lyrics such as 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P” or 2Chainz “Pimps” actually glamorize the trafficking and exploitation of young women.

How many people have belted out these lyrics while driving down the street oblivious to the actual meaning behind the words?

Takeaway: Teach the young people in your life to think about the words of the songs they listen to or sing along with. Even take a popular song and unpack it together.

 

Television

As mentioned above, MTV had a program called “Pimp My Ride.” The format for the program appeared interesting enough— the crew take a plain car and turn it into a hot ride. But why use the term “pimp”?

In fact, some of the customizations actually had to be removed as they violated traffic laws, compromised federally mandated safety features, exceeded noise ordinances, or exceeded the vehicle’s ability to handle the modifications. So much for a “hot ride.”

Also, TV characters who exploit others sexually are also held up for admiration.

At ranker.com I found this: “The biggest pimps in television history are those lucky fictional characters who are notoriously promiscuous, making viewers around the world incredibly jealous.” states Ranker. “They manage to get all the babes, almost as if they were God’s gift to women (or in some cases, men). They might be hated by some for their tramp-tastic ways, but surely, they are also secretly worshiped by aspiring pimps as well.”

Takeaway: Be mindful of what you watch on TV. That doesn’t mean you have to only watch squeaky-clean programs, but be aware that of the behaviors being touted as desirable. When discussing shows with friends, mention how people are being portrayed and how the show writers are presenting those qualities as good or bad.

 

Movies:

The cinematic universe is no better in its presentation of pimps. At ifc.com, you can read its list of pimps featured on the big screen.

I found this quote at watchmojo.com regarding their list: “Although they’re criminals, there’s no doubt that they are cool cats.” This quote is exactly what I’m taking about. Yeah, they’re doing horrible things to innocent people, but hey, they look good doing it!

 

Books:

Visit amazon.com and type in the word “pimp” and over 53,000 results appear. From books on how to be a pimp, costumes and clothing to look the part, to accessories to tie it all together, it’s a one-stop shop at Amazon.

Most of the books either document how a pimp became a pimp or advice from said pimp on how you can become a pimp, too.

 

Social Media

Pimps on social media are doing one of two things, they are either mentoring or training other wannabe pimps  (how to keep their stable in line, how to avoid law enforcement, etc.). Or they are using social media, such as Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to recruit young women and children, take pictures for ads, and make appointments with johns.

Takeaway: Be cautious when sharing information on the internet and do not share personal information (home address, passwords, school name or address, etc.) on social media. Once something is released on the internet, it can never fully be erased.

 

What You Can Do

See pimps for who they really are—criminals, sexual exploiters, human traffickers. Educate your children, your family, and friends about the realities of pimping. Pimps are not people we should aspire to be.

 

Read past articles on Pimponomics…

Part 1: Real Life Pimps Are Nothing Like the Ones on TV

Part 2: Do You Fit the Criteria to Become a Pimp’s Next Victim?

Part 3: Why is the Sex Industry Thriving?

 

Jimmy Carter: Why I Believe the Mistreatment of Women is the Number One Human Rights Abuse

 

In today’s society cyberbullying is on the rise.

Cyberbullies threaten, intimidate, and abuse using one or more of the following tactics. The following list was compiled by Enough is Enough

 

Cyberbullying Tactics

 

Gossip: Posting or sending cruel gossip to damage a person’s reputation and relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances

Exclusion: Deliberately excluding someone from an online group

Impersonation: Breaking into someone’s email or other online account and sending messages that  will cause embarrassment or damage to the person’s reputation and affect his/her relationship with others

Harassment: Repeatedly posting or sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages

Cyber stalking: Posting or sending unwanted or intimidating messages, which may include threats.

Flaming: Online fights where scornful and offensive messages are posted on websites, forums, or blogs.

Outing and Trickery: Tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information, which is then shared online

Cyber‐threats: Remarks on the Internet threatening or implying violent behavior, displaying suicidal tendencies

Copyright 2008 Enough is Enough www.enough.org

 

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In September, I wrote a post titled: “Back to School: What You Can Do When Your Child is Cyberbullied”

which gave 10 steps parents/caregivers can take to help their child deal with a cyberbully.

But what can you do when you’re child IS the cyberbully?

 

Below is a list of 10 steps to take when your own child is cyberbullying others. Presented by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D. and cyberbullying.org

 

10 Things You Can Do When Your Child IS the Cyberbully

 

  1. Acknowledge the issue. As a parent, accept the reality that your child could be engaging in online behaviors that are hurting others. Rather than try to trivialize, rationalize, or ignore the problem at hand, you realize that anyone (including your own flesh and blood!) can be very cruel to others, given the right circumstances.
  1. Remain calm. When addressing cyberbullying, try to discuss the issue in a level-headed manner without demonizing, disrespecting, or judging your child. Remember that your son or daughter isn’t the problem; it is the behavior. Deal with it, but treat them with dignity. Otherwise, they may lash out and retaliate if they feel attacked or victimized themselves, and no progress will be made.
  1. Keep an open line of communication. Many youths engage in cyberbullying to get revenge for something someone else did first. Make sure that your kids know they can come to you and discuss issues they are having with peers (offline or online). Give kids the opportunity and skill set to solve interpersonal problems in appropriate ways, instead of resorting to revenge.
  1. Stop the bullying. Goal #1 is to get the bullying to end and never happen again. Ensure that all instances of bullying are stopped immediately, regardless of who started it. No one deserves to be mistreated, for any reason, ever.
  1. Understand the root of the problem. We hear that “hurt people hurt people.” It is critical to identify the reason(s) your child has acted out. Is it an unhealthy way of coping with stress in their life? Because they themselves are being victimized? Because there are no rules in place and no threat of sanctions to deter them? Try to get to the bottom of the issue.
  1. Investigate. Take measures to thoroughly find out the extent of your child’s bullying. It could span multiple environments, websites, apps, and devices. It could be very direct and observable, or indirect and extremely subtle. Work to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.
  1. Make children understand how targets feel. Explain the severity of cyberbullying and how it would feel to be on the receiving end of hate or harassment that specifically highlights the way your child would be hurt the most. Try to cultivate empathy and compassion in kids in creative and compelling ways, so that they really understand that we all have our sore spots, hot buttons, and vulnerabilities.
  1. Set up parental controls. Monitor your child’s online activities, both formally and informally. This can be done through the installation of software or apps on their laptop, tablet, or phone. You should also routinely and randomly check their devices to see what they are doing, at least until you feel sure that they can be trusted.
  1. Share your concerns. You are not the only parent who has ever faced these problems. Connect with others so that the entire community can rally around the issue and take a stand. This united front can help to create and promote a culture where all members of a peer group recognize that bullying is always wrong and not cool at all.
  1. Stay educated. While we know that your lives are extremely busy, it is important that you take the time to continually learn about new technologies and sites that your kids (and their peers) are using. You should also know where to get help (start with http://www.cyberbullying.us), and interface with others (especially school staff) who have relevant experiences and strategies to share.

 

 

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Share these anti-bullying videos with your child.

 

 

The topic of pimps and their popularity ignited an interesting debate between my husband and me. We wondered: Why is the sex industry thriving like it is?

  • Is greed driving the pimp to push young women to sell their bodies day after day for his profit?
  • Is there is not enough law enforcement to keep up with the overwhelming number of traffickers?
  • Is the sex industry’s growth due to the johns’ buying sex in the first place? (If there was no demand, there would be no need to supply.)
  • Or is poverty the real root behind all this?

We concluded that there is no one group or person to blame. We are all called to help stop prostitution, pornography, and sexual exploitation.

The Victim

Most women* prostituted by traffickers feel they have no choice. They continue to sell their bodies out of fear of punishment from their pimp or necessity, as they have no other way to earn a living. Poverty, lack of education, and homelessness all play a factor in the force that drives a woman to be manipulated into prostitution and pornography.

Though drugs and guns can only be purchased once, human beings can be sold over and over. People are also easier to hide from law enforcement because fear can cause victims to lie about their situation or they may not even realize they are a victim.

The Buyer

Johns who purchase sex may not know the women are being forced and are not willing participants. Men addicted to pornography may feel the need to take it to the next level and “purchase the real thing.”

They feel a sense of anonymity, hiding behind their computer monitor, cell phone or laptop while they “shop” for women or meeting under cover of darkness at random motels. Many johns believe pornography and prostitution are victimless crimes.

The Pimp

Pimps─whether they are independent operators or members of a gang/mafia─pimp for money. As of 2015, human trafficking is second only to drugs in profitable crime. That ranking may soon change as human trafficking is the fastest growing crime worldwide.

Many pimps come from a background of abuse and lack the empathy needed to be aware of the damage they are inflicting on their victims. They don’t see the victims as anything but property.

Law Enforcement

With 2200 children reported missing every day, more than 400 ads a month on backpage.com advertising potentially underage sex, and countless sting operations occurring across the country, law enforcement is kept busy arresting criminals involved in human trafficking.

If every officer worked on a trafficking task force 24 hours a day 7 days a week, they still wouldn’t make a dent in the problem.

Traffickers are constantly using resources to stay ahead of law enforcement. They will change names, phone numbers, web addresses, and the location of their victim to elude the police.

So What Do We Do?

“Prostitution is decreasing on the street, but thriving online.

Advertisements on social media and sites like Craigslist.com and Backpage.com entice potential workers and customers. Those determined to be in the business, but who find their local resources drying up, often go online to solicit business or take advantage of opportunities in other cities,” states Polaris.

“There are two primary factors driving the spread of human trafficking: high profits and low risk. Like drug and arms trafficking, human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand. Every year, traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world, including here in the United States.” –Polaris

The root of prostitution is a tangled web of cause and effect. There is no real culprit to blame for this blight on humanity. All we can do is chip away at each instigator until the problem is eradicated.

  • Notify Craigslist and Backpage that you refuse to use their sites until they stop selling people for sex.
  • Say “No!” to pornography by supporting hotel chains that refuse to provide on-demand pornography such as Hilton and Hyatt. Pornography is not only damaging to the victims exploited in the videos but also those watching the videos. Pornography is NOT a victimless crime! Learn more at www.fightthenewdrug.org
  • Refuse to purchase sex. That’s pretty self-explanatory.
  • Do not glorify or emulate pimps. For example, be aware of not using the words “porn” or “pimp” in casual conversation. They get overused as in “foodporn” for a hashtag when people snap a picture of food in social media or as in “pimping out” a car or outfit. They are criminals and sexual deviants, and should be treated as such.

*Editors note: While I use the term “women” to describe the victims of forced prostitution, young men and boys are also victimized. In a report published by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, 50% of the 100,000 children trafficked for sex is boys. There have also been sexual exploitation cases involving young children, toddlers, and infants.

 

Video:

Greg’s Story

The life of a porn star is not all it’s cracked up to be.

video courtesy of Fight the New Drug

The business of human trafficking is kept hidden in the shadows, which makes obtaining facts regarding human trafficking nearly impossible. So law enforcement, government agencies, and agencies working to eradicate human trafficking, are forced to make generalizations and assumptions based on the facts they do receive.

One such “fact” is this:

“Every 30 seconds, someone becomes the victim of human trafficking.”

 
Taking statistics from a number of sources such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children while also factoring in the denseness of the population globally, the A21 organization has created this estimated calculation.

A staggering 27 million people are in human bondage worldwide. This wouldn’t be a booming business if traffickers were not constantly building their inventory nor replenishing their inventory with fresh bodies every time a victim was either rescued, or more likely, passed away due to their abuse.

(photo courtesy of A21)

To bring an end to human trafficking, we first must make aware the dangers.

Education and awareness are the keys.

People who continue to turn a blind eye to the existence of human trafficking are more susceptible to becoming a victim themselves.

Share what you know with EVERYONE. If your church or place of worship doesn’t have a human trafficking awareness group, start one. Talk to your local government leaders or law enforcement about what they are doing to end human trafficking in your area.

Together, we CAN make a difference.