Posts Tagged ‘forced prostitution’

 

The 2016 Human Trafficking Victim Report documents the origins of human trafficking survivors and perpetrators in Orange County.

Last year, OCHTTF aided 225 human trafficking victims, raising the total number of victims OCHTTF has assisted since 2004 to more than 580 sex and labor trafficking victims.

By tracking victim origin data, the task force has learned that 78% of sex trafficking victims originated outside of Orange County making it a destination city for trafficking.

Here are some statistics from the report:

Of the 225 human trafficking victims assisted in 2015

  • 203 were female, 19 male, 3 transgender
  • 177 were adult and 48 were minors
  • 63 were foreign born and 162 were US citizens
  • 49 were rescued from labor trafficking and 168 were rescued from sex trafficking
  • total number of new victims was 137 or 61% of the overall total

Services provided to these clients included:

  • skill-building workshops
  • social activities
  • transportation
  • personal items such as clothes and toiletries
  • medical, dental, and mental health services
  • housing assistance
  • child-care

 

 

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The annual TIP Report, categorized into tiers based on how well governments meet the minimum requirements for the elimination of human trafficking, was set by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000.

 

If there is a single theme to this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, it is the conviction that there is nothing inevitable about trafficking in human beings. That conviction is where the process of change really begins—with the realization that just because a certain abuse has taken place in the past doesn’t mean that we have to tolerate that abuse in the future or that we can afford to avert our eyes. Instead, we should be asking ourselves—what if that victim of trafficking was my daughter, son, sister, or brother?

 This year’s TIP Report asks such questions because ending modern slavery isn’t just a fight we should attempt—it is a fight we can and must win.

                                                                        -John F. Kerry, Secretary of State

 

This year’s (2016) Trafficking in Persons Report focuses on the positive developments and continued challenges of preventing trafficking, and it considers how governments and the broader anti-trafficking community can effectively ensure that those who are vulnerable to human trafficking have the tools and opportunities to avert the risks of exploitation. (2016 TIP Report)

 

The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

➤ sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or

➤ the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within these definitions.

 

Here is a small sampling of some of the topics discussed in the TIP Report.

 

  • Vulnerability and Human Trafficking

 

Although human trafficking occurs everywhere, the common factor that can be found is the victim’s vulnerability to exploitation. Traffickers exploit these vulnerabilities. They prey on those who lack security and opportunity, coerce, and deceive to gain control.

 

To prevent this, governments, NGOs, and local communities must identify the vulnerable within their borders and develop effective strategies to increase awareness and prevent human trafficking.

 

Examples of vulnerabilities:

 

  • Refugees and migrants, including asylum-seekers
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals
  • Religious minorities
  • People with disabilities (physical & intellectual)
  • Those who are stateless
  • The poor
  • The uneducated / poorly educated
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Homelessness
  • Children

 

  • Research, Data Collection, and Program Evaluation

 

Given the complex nature of human trafficking, data is difficult to collect, causing gaps in knowledge of how to prevent human trafficking.

 

Reliable baseline information providing insight to causes, trends, and characteristics of human trafficking allow governments and civil societies to create an understanding and protect their more vulnerable members of society, including a more comprehensive understanding of root causes that are specific to states, communities, and cultural contexts. With this information programs can be developed to meet the specific needs of the people.

 

  • Raising Awareness

 

Awareness regarding the signs and dangers of human trafficking is an important factor in the fight against human trafficking.

 

Public awareness campaigns help to educate the community to be knowledgeable to the signs of human trafficking so they can inform law enforcement as well as targeting victims who may not even know they are a victim.

 

Campaign designers need to improve the way human trafficking victims are portrayed in their awareness ads. By showing a victim bound and beaten skews the public’s idea of what a victim looks like. Many are controlled solely by emotional and verbal threats and may be overlooked by the public as a potential victim.

 

  • Policies & Programs to Reduce Risk & Empower Vulnerable Individuals

 

Public awareness campaigns are one way to prevent human trafficking, but laws and policies must also be put in place to protect people from becoming vulnerable to traffickers such as:

  • Registering births
  • Administering citizenship and nationality
  • Identity documents

A lack of such documents renders a person vulnerable.

 

Documentation also allows residents and their families to utilize health, education, and employment services, all of which make a person less vulnerable.

 

  • Multilateral Collaboration

 

Human trafficking occurs in every country, on every continent. “Multilateral engagement is a key component of many governments’ effective anti-trafficking efforts.” (2016 TIP Report)

 

Many organizations are incorporating anti-trafficking policies into their own operating policies such as:

 

  • National security
  • Human rights
  • Violence against women and children
  • Migration management
  • Refugee protection
  • Business responsibility
  • Supply chain accountability
  • Economic development

 

By developing common goals, these organizations can help foster data collection and standardize research while providing a venue to identify new and emerging trends in human trafficking.

 

  • Enhancing Partnerships

 

To combat human trafficking, collaboration must take place. Survivors, NGOs, donors, academics, businesses, and governments need to work together, sharing strengths and supporting weaknesses. Creating a partnership is the only way to combat human trafficking on a global scale.

 

  • A Joint Effort

 

Preventing human trafficking is an enormous challenge, requiring the sustained efforts of many. Collaboration between government and nongovernmental stakeholders is critical to strengthening efforts to prevent modern slavery.

 

At its core, the global struggle to combat human trafficking is about political and public will. If ignored, traffickers will continue to reap enormous profits while communities suffer the many toxic effects.

 

But if trafficking is confronted head on, vulnerable populations will be empowered to control more fully their lives and protect themselves from the harms of human trafficking. (2016 TIP Report)

 

 

If you need help or suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking in the U.S. call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text Polaris at BeFree (233733).

 

To download the entire report visit http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2016/index.htm

 

 

I met Meg a few year’s ago at a Christian Coalition meeting that brought organizations together who were involved in fighting human trafficking and its causes. When she told me she, herself, had been a trafficking survivor, I was admittedly shocked. I didn’t know how to act for fear of embarrassing or offending her, yet wanted to convey my compassion and understanding. Not sure if I succeeded.

Fast forward to six months ago and we’re both on an advisory council for our county’s human trafficking task force. I now get to learn from her experience regularly.

Meg is an amazing woman whom I have had the pleasure to get to know. She has a unique perspective having been a sex worker voluntarily, to being forced against her will, to having no other choice to make ends meet.

There are many misconceptions and a lack of understanding when it comes to sex trafficking and sex work. I will let Meg shed some light on the subject for you.

How did you become involved with the fight against human trafficking?

I like to think that the fight found me. In 2009, I’d already been out of the industry for about 8 years and had started to feel an incredible pull towards better understanding and re-connecting with the industry. At that time, I hadn’t yet realized that I’d been trafficked and was still unpacking and remembering things that had happened during that time. I knew that some of the things weren’t ‘right’, but didn’t yet understand that sex work (SW) and trafficking were different and opposite ends of the same spectrum – I was still processing through what were a variety of experiences within the same industry. I was just beginning to distinguish what was consensual, what was circumstantial and what was coerced/forced. At times, I loved my work as an escort. At others, I was just trying to survive and stay housed and fed, pay for my tuition, cover my bills, and buy my drugs. And then, there was also an overlap of time where I was simply trying to avoid being revealed as an SW, being beaten, or killed. Although the more reductive media-based narratives are often shared most, they often miss or water-down the reality of so many real lived experiences. Our lives and time in the industry are rarely as simple as it’s made out to be.

The more I learned about trafficking, the more I learned about myself. The more I learned about myself and my diverse time within the industry, the more I understood about the spectrum. I no longer felt comfortable blaming an entire industry for the trauma I had endured. I was able to shed the internalized stigma and shame I’d been carrying and really start healing. Eventually, that pull led me to realize that there was no organization based I Orange County that existed to serve those in the industry, and that’s where I felt God calling me to be. We’ve evolved over the last few years and I can’t wait to see how we continue to do that in ways that honor and reflect the needs of the SW and survivors we serve.

Abeni is an interesting name. Why did you choose it and what does it mean? Does the name have any personal significance to you?

I always smile when I think about our name because it holds and represents so much institutional memory. It’s deeply embedded in our story, so even though I feel like it may not wholly reflect who we are now, it reflects our journey and we find great value in that.

When we first launched, we existed to serve as a faith-based organization and so our name and its meaning directly reflects that … Abeni is my daughter’s middle name and is a Yoruban name meaning “girl prayed for” (or directly translated, “we asked for her, and behold, we got her”). Having had 3 boys already, we found out the fourth was a girl and we finally got to use this beautiful name that we’d been holding onto for years.

When it came to choosing a name for our organization, it seemed like the one that best captured who and what we were about at that time. Given how we’ve evolved and because we no longer function as a faith-based organization, we don’t necessarily think it captures all that we are or who we serve anymore. BUT, it’s part of our story and is always an opportunity to talk about the paradigm shifts and growth we’ve experienced, and I really love that!

What is Abeni’s main focus at this moment?

We are a small, volunteer-run org, so out of necessity we’ve had to intentionally focus our vision and hone our efforts. Developing and offering services to the most marginalized and criminalized within Orange County has increasingly become a priority, so expanding our harm reduction services has become the main focus.

Developing relevant resources and partnerships, connecting with Street-based/Survival/LGBTQ SW, partnering with our new needle exchange (ocnep.org), engaging in public and private advocacy, and lots and lots of harm reduction have been front and center for us.

Harm reduction recognizes the realities of where people are and what their needs are. It lovingly and without judgment helps keep people safe, reduce related risks, promotes health, and offers support while they’re there. I know my experiences in the industry would have looked so different had I had access to that kind of care, so developing services that reflect the needs of those we serve makes sense … Safe sex supplies, clean needle distribution, SW safety tips, Know-Your-Rights information, a collection of bad date information, relevant resourcing, SW safety plans, exit-strategy development, relational support, emergency relocations, etc.

On your website, abeni.org, it says that ‘Abeni exists to create a safe, confidential place for those working in the Orange County sex trades as well as those being domestically sex trafficked.’ Tell us about the decision to have Abeni focus on two seemingly different groups?

I think this is one of the most common misconceptions about the SW spectrum, so I’m really happy you’re asking about it. The idea that there are 2 distinct and different groups of people tends to leave a lot of people out discussion. It fails to recognize not only how the spectrum works, but how people can fall in different places on it during different times as their circumstances change.

While there is an immense difference between consensual SW and trafficking, they exist on the same spectrum and can both be experienced by someone depending on what happens in their life and time in the industry. My story and experience working the entire spectrum of sex work are examples of this, as are the stories of so many we know and serve.

Some people start out as victims, but choose (either willingly or based on their circumstances) to re-enter the industry. Some absolutely LOVE their work in the industry and choose to make it their lifelong profession. Some start out as consensual SW and, based on their agency or circumstances, find themselves being forced into SW (being trafficked). Some are engaging in SW or adult entertainment due to their circumstances or financial need. The idea that there is a black-and-white trafficking narrative is not only incredibly inaccurate but more importantly, can be very dangerous for those who need help because it can:

For people who don’t understand that not everyone is a victim and that not everyone has a choice, one of the best resources I can recommend is I Heart Sex Workers by Lia Claire Scholl.

One of the greatest things to remember is that no one is wearing a label when they’re working … So often we find law enforcement expecting those who are being arrested to be able to identify themselves as victims right away. That took me several years to do, so the notion that we expect people who are obviously working under hard circumstances, trying to survive, and stay safe is terrifying and terribly unjust to me.

In our current efforts, we are either assuming everyone is the criminal or everyone is the victim and neither of those approaches accurately recognizes the reality of those working or being exploited out there. We need to ask victims and SW WHY they don’t trust the system or service providers, then adjust our efforts and approaches to meet that reality. Asking people to walk away from their pimps, their support systems -healthy or not- and trust an entity who they have been targeted and potentially abused by is unrealistic. For those who do and find positive results, I’m incredibly grateful, but more often than not, the survivors and SW I talk to can’t bring themselves to do it. I believe we can learn from this and help develop new approaches and collaborations that take those concerns into account and work towards creating better options for those who need help.

You also state on your website that ‘We believe that those in the industry have the right to identify themselves in terms that best reflects their relationship with it.’ Could you give us a few examples?

It’s pretty simple. We believe that people have the right to identify themselves in ways that reflect their understanding of their own experiences. For example, my experiences were complex and varied, so I prefer to refer to myself as both an SW and survivor. Others prefer victim. Others lean toward reclaiming highly stigmatized terms such as ‘whore’ and ‘prostitute’ … All of this should and needs to be something the individual does, not society, movement, or organizations.

Self –identification can be incredibly empowering and can change depending on one’s understanding of their experiences. Respecting this honors the person and their experiences without injecting societal labels that further isolates, potentially hurts or endangers them. Society likes to label people and some of those labels limit, stigmatize, marginalize, and even criminalize them for life.

What are some of the reasons someone would choose to work in the sex industry? Is it a choice a man or woman actually has?

People enter the industry for all sorts of reasons and many of those reasons are impacted by how much agency or privilege someone has. Agency is essentially the capacity that a person has to exert power over or make choices in their own lives. All of these things can influence how and where someone lands up on that spectrum. Some of those factors include Socio-economic status, choice, race, gender, education, location, class, sexual or gender orientation, literacy/education, drug use, trauma/abuse, family history, housing, transportation, etc. They can all fluctuate greatly depending on many things and can change at different times in someone’s life.

One of Abeni’s philosophy beliefs is ‘We believe in risk reduction’. How do reduce the risk for sex workers?

We reduce the risk for SW by listening to them, creating safe, inclusive spaces for them to dialogue, and by respecting their voices. We can also reduce risks for SW by recognizing that criminalization puts them at greater risk.

First and foremost, the call to “Nothing about us, without us” has never been more true or necessary than it is today. With the rising move of anti-trafficking legislation impacting how SW, victims, and survivors are treated, the great need to listen to a broad spectrum of SW and survivor voices is growing.

There are victims being arrested and convicted, instead of being helped. Wendy Barnes’ story and the recent Latesha Clay case are excellent examples of this. SW and the sex industry often find themselves being blamed and held accountable for trafficking.

Labor trafficking occurs at much higher rates, yet it’s treated very differently without campaigning to have jeans factories or shrimp boats shut down … If anything, the calls for labor protections are growing, and yet we refuse to engage the SW community and ask them how they can be a part of these conversations and help in the fight against trafficking.

SW are our best defense, our first responders, our most important eyes and ears in places that NO ONE else has access to. This leads me to believe that maybe WE have the problem and that we need to address our biases. It would help both survivors and SW to get honest about whether or not our efforts are helping or potentially harming those we say we care about and want to see free.

Second, I think it’s critical to talk about WHO is being most impacted … Who are our efforts targeting? What communities are being impacted and hurt most by our new policies? Is it impoverished communities? Is it communities of color? Who’s being arrested the most, real victims or SW? Are we reflecting and analyzing that data well?

Based on what I’ve experienced, seen, and heard, we’ve limited our efforts and they’re missing the very real issues driving trafficking … Patriarchy, gender inequality, poverty, racism, lack of educational or occupational opportunities, financial insecurity, and so many other agency factors. We’d like to think it’s a solid and substantial fix, but John stings won’t end trafficking and can even hurt the very people who we’re trying to help.

Many human trafficking organizations are tackling sex trafficking from the demand side and going after johns. Do you feel this is an effective way to reduce sex trafficking?

John stings concern me for many reasons, but largely because they primarily target, involve, and arrest those who are trying to survive without accurately being able to distinguish who is who. This means SW and victims generally face criminal charges unless they are willing to cooperate with law enforcement. If they are unable or unwilling to do that, they are left with criminal records, often locking them into the very work we criminalize and stigmatize them for.

I often hear about how traumatizing and disempowering ‘rescues’ are for survivors. I’ve often heard how grateful survivors are to be free but never have I heard a survivor say they’re criminal charges and their criminal record were a blessing.

I often hear about the pressure they feel to cooperate with a criminal case . This kind of pressure on trauma survivors and exploitation of victims is worrisome for me and advocates all over the world.

There ARE other ways, we just need to care enough to listen to EVERYONE on the SW spectrum, explore them, and stop looking for the quick fix that puts a band-aid on a bullet wound.

In addition to those concerns, we find that stings and raids can often isolate and push further underground not only SW but survivors. This, of course, creates more dangerous situations for them and prevents them from being able to make safer decisions about their work and more easily access services or help should they need to. Despite LE’s best intentions, they are not viewed as help by SW or survivors and contacted only as a very last resort, if ever.

I grew up in a law enforcement family, so it’s not lost on me how challenging this is for LE agencies to address and navigate, but with more collaboration, I think we could offer more options and get more done … Especially in ways that honor those being exploited, that don’t further criminalize SW and allow our victims the opportunities to get the help they need and become survivors.

Is there any question I forgot to ask that you would like the readers to know?

First, thanks so much for allowing me to share these thoughts! It’s an incredibly complex and nuanced discussion and there’s no way to cover every intersectional understanding that we wish people could have. Last year, I did an interview with ‘Formerly Fundie’ and Patheos blogger, Benjamin L. Corey. Some of the links in that interview were pretty great and I encourage some extra reading for those who might want to unpack some of the ideas and thoughts I touched on.

Meg lives in So Cal with her husband and 4 kids. She’s a former sex worker and Domestic Sex Trafficking Survivor who founded and runs Abeni, an Orange County NPO that serves those working the spectrum of sex work. She’s a big fan of deep conversations, life-long learning, snark, and Harm Reduction.

The Stop Human Trafficking Action Group would like to thank Meg for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to answer our questions. We also invite our readers to leave their comments below.

Made in the U.S.A.: The Sex Trafficking of America’s Children
By: Alisa Jordheim

How are America’s children falling victim to human traffickers? Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children by Alisa Jordheim provides a sneak peek into the minds of five children trafficked on American soil.

This book is heavily recommended for all U.S. parents. We need to educate ourselves as parents, caregivers, and as a community about the causes and vulnerabilities that make our children susceptible to trafficking.

If we don’t understand our children, a trafficker will.

What Is Sex Trafficking?

 

The book delves into the world of sex trafficking in the U.S. Do you know how sex trafficking ties into human trafficking?

“Sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking,” according to Polaris Project.

“Sex traffickers use…

  • Violence
  • Threats
  • Lies
  • Debt bondage
  • Other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will.

Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of eighteen years induced into commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking—regardless of whether the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.”

“While any child can become a victim, there are several prevailing factors that make a child particularly vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation,” according to Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children.

Those factors are…

  • Runaway tendencies
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty
  • Limited education
  • History of sexual abuse
  • A parent or family member involved in prostitution
  • Gender bias
  • Sexual orientation discrimination
  • Mental disabilities
Sex Trafficking Through the Eyes of Five Children

Tiana’s Story

When her grandmother passed away, Tiana became homeless. Her mother was unable to care for Tiana, so Tiana sought the help of her high-school friend Alexis.

Alexis, who was living with a man in a Motel 6, took Tiana in for a couple of weeks. Alexis then decided to introduce Tiana to Chris a cocaine drug user, saying they could stay with him and his friends for a bit. On her first day there, Tiana felt pressured by her friend to try cocaine for the first time.

The next day, Tiana, wanting to leave Chris’ place but was afraid of Chris and his friends and had no place else to go, summoned up the courage to try to leave but Chris and his friends grabbed her bag trying to prevent her. She tossed the bag at them and took off running down the street. She made it all the way to a gas station two blocks away before she slowed down and realized everything she owned was in that bag.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, you’ll get the details about how Tiana felt she was out of options and took a job recommended by her friend Alexis, to “dance” in Atlanta and became one of Marcus’ girls.

Kate’s Story

Seven-year-old Kate was excited to be spending the summer with her grandma, aunt, cousin, and her aunt’s new husband, George. Everyone liked George. He was fun, nice, and hardworking, and he never yelled.

After falling asleep on the living room floor watching movies, Kate was awoken by someone caressing her. It was Uncle George.

Frightened, Kate said she had to use the bathroom. Uncle George followed her into the bathroom and locked the door. That was the first time he molested her.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, you’ll learn how Kate was trafficked by her own family.

Rich’s Story

Five-year-old Rich didn’t understand why his father was so verbally and physically abusive toward him.

When Rich’s mom was admitted to the hospital again due to a tumor on her back, Rich’s dad sent him to live with an aunt and uncle who both began molesting him shortly after he arrived.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, read more of Rich’s story of drugs, depression, and survival sex.

Samantha’s Story

Samantha and her friend Karen, both in junior high, were excited to be tagging along with Karen’s older brothers to a local party full of high-school students. They all knew drugs would be there…all kinds of drugs.

After a little mingling among the party-goers, Samantha and Karen cozied up to a college-aged guy with bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. He offered them pot and both gladly accepted.

That’s the last thing Samantha remembered about the party.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, learn about how traffickers emotionally control their victims, so much so that Samantha returned to the “life”– after being rescued.

Deidra’s Story

Deidra and Aaron knew each other from a special-ed class at school. Aaron was interested in community service and was from a devout Mormon family. He even had dinner with Deidra and her family once. So why would her parents need to be concerned when, after spending a couple hours playing video games at Deidra’s house, Aaron suggested they “go to Target and get a Coke”?

During their trip to Target, Aaron spent an unusual amount of time texting and checking his phone, which made Deidra uncomfortable since he seemed to be ignoring her.

After making their purchases, they waited for more than ten minutes in Aaron’s parked car, silently.

Suddenly, a Jeep and a Hummer drove up. Several teens piled out of the vehicles. Deidra recognized a few of them. They invited Aaron and Deidra to a party. Deidra decided she wanted to go, but Aaron decided he did not.

The kids whisked Deidra into the Hummer.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, follow Deidra as she is kidnapped and forced to prostitute herself and Deidra’s family as they never stop searching for her

* * *

Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children is a valuable resource and an educational tool with which to arm yourself and protect your children.

Author Alisa Jordheim includes several resources in her book for parents, who after reading these children’s stories are compelled to get involved to protect America’s children.

Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry and Into the Arms of the Savior
By: Annie Lobert

“A beating is all it took. An hour of fury unleashed, blood splattering onto the sparkling white floor while my boyfriend-turned-pimp smashed my head repeatedly into the kitchen cabinets.” page ix

So begins sex trafficking survivor Annie Lobert’s memoir, Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry and Into the Arms of the Savior. Now known as the founder of the Hookers for Jesus ministry, Lobert’s journey began as a child who was sexually assaulted and emotionally neglected and abused.

Through Annie’s story, you gain a perspective of what prostitution may look like for many women around the world. Though difficult to read at times, her memoir gives a unique perspective of what often happens behind closed doors in the sex trade.

My life was now a blank slate. I wanted to be somebody. I wanted power, not to be squashed as a helpless victim.” (p. 16)

After graduating from high school, she set out to make her mark on the world. Lured by money and revenge, she swallowed feelings of uneasiness and traveled to Hawaii to visit a friend who encouraged her to sell her body for money. After later moving to Las Vegas, she began working as a high-end professional escort and created the persona “Fallen,” a persona that allowed her to continue to hide her true emotions and turn a blind eye to the dangerous lifestyle she had become addicted to.

“The next day Kimmie accompanied me to the escort service, the agency that would send me on my calls almost every day for the next five years.” (p. 56)

A near-death experience and a miracle within her heart caused Annie to leave the life of drugs and prostitution and to found Hookers for Jesus, a ministry for prostitutes and sex trafficking victims. She became a born-again Christian, leaving the world of prostitution behind to minister to others about Jesus.

It was easy to spot the working girls. I had been one of them, after all. I knew the coy, confident looks, the trips up and down elevators. This was my town. I had once run the streets as one of the most successful high-class call girls. I knew about lust. I knew about greed. I knew about pockets full of money. I knew about violence. I knew about the pull of pimps. But now I knew the remedy for the sickness of all those things—God’s love.” (p. 195)

Annie has had great success ministering to the community within Las Vegas and across the globe.

“I felt God calling me to help other women in the sex trafficking industry, but I wasn’t sure how or in what way.” (p. 166)

editor’s note: I found Annie’s story difficult to believe at times, particularly her one-eighty from sex and drugs to church and Jesus, but conversions like hers do happen. Annie seems very personable and you can’t help falling in love with her. Her tragic past has not worn her down, she is a fighter.

Are you looking for a way out of the sex industry and don’t know where to go? Annie and her team of volunteers have developed programs that can help. Check out the links below.

  • Destiny House, a free program that was founded to help women who are looking for the opportunity to escape from and reestablish their lives outside of the sex industry.
  • FISHnet Fund is a vital part of Hookers for Jesus that includes developing a monetary fund to support men and women seeking to be set free from the bondage of the sex industry.
  • Saturday Night Love (SNL) Outreach is the caring communities’ outreach of love to sex trafficking victims and ladies working on the Las Vegas Strip as prostitutes. The purpose of this outreach is to let each lady know that she is valued, precious, and loved by her community.
  • Ladies of Destiny support group, a group that meets every week to offer support, encouragement, food, fellowship, and fun.
  • The Keeping Innocent Sisters Safe (K.I.S.S.) Project is committed to working closely in support of prison chaplaincy and assisting the work of the church behind bars. This organization reaches out to women incarcerated in the Clark County Detention Center. Its outreaches have included personal visitation, mentoring, Bible studies, cultural events, and provision of literature for libraries to improve the quality of life behind bars.
  • Grace Chicks Volunteer Program outreach ranges from inviting girls to events, planning and attending social gatherings (movies, bowling, etc.), and driving a girl to an appointment.
  • Diamonds and Pearls Strip Club Ministry is much like the Saturday Night Love outreach. The purpose of Diamonds and Pearls is to let each lady know that her worth and value is above and more precious than the diamonds and pearls. This outreach consists of providing gift bags for the ladies they connect with, developing friendships, and praying for the girls in the clubs.

You can learn more about Annie’s ministry at her website
You call follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Made in the U.S.A.: The Sex Trafficking of America’s Children
By: Alisa Jordheim

 

How are America’s children falling victim to human traffickers? Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children by Alisa Jordheim provides a sneak peek into the minds of five children trafficked on American soil.

 

This book is heavily recommended for all U.S. parents. We need to educate ourselves as parents, caregivers, and as a community about the causes and vulnerabilities that make our children susceptible to trafficking.

 

If we don’t understand our children, a trafficker will.

 

What Is Sex Trafficking?

 

The book delves into the world of sex trafficking in the U.S. Do you know how sex trafficking ties into human trafficking?

 

“Sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking,” according to Polaris Project.

“Sex traffickers use…

  • Violence
  • Threats
  • Lies
  • Debt bondage
  • Other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will.

 

Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of eighteen years induced into commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking—regardless of whether the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.”

 

“While any child can become a victim, there are several prevailing factors that make a child particularly vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation,” according to Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children.

Those factors are…

  • Runaway tendencies
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty
  • Limited education
  • History of sexual abuse
  • A parent or family member involved in prostitution
  • Gender bias
  • Sexual orientation discrimination
  • Mental disabilities

 

 

Sex Trafficking Through the Eyes of Five Children

 

Tiana’s Story

 

When her grandmother passed away, Tiana became homeless. Her mother was unable to care for Tiana, so Tiana sought the help of her high-school friend Alexis.

Alexis, who was living with a man in a Motel 6, took Tiana in for a couple of weeks. Alexis then decided to introduce Tiana to Chris a cocaine drug user, saying they could stay with him and his friends for a bit. On her first day there, Tiana felt pressured by her friend to try cocaine for the first time.

The next day, Tiana, wanting to leave Chris’ place but was afraid of Chris and his friends and had no place else to go, summoned up the courage to try to leave but Chris and his friends grabbed her bag trying to prevent her. She tossed the bag at them and took off running down the street. She made it all the way to a gas station two blocks away before she slowed down and realized everything she owned was in that bag.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, you’ll get the details about how Tiana felt she was out of options and took a job recommended by her friend Alexis, to “dance” in Atlanta and became one of Marcus’ girls.

 

Kate’s Story

 

Seven-year-old Kate was excited to be spending the summer with her grandma, aunt, cousin, and her aunt’s new husband, George. Everyone liked George. He was fun, nice, and hardworking, and he never yelled.

After falling asleep on the living room floor watching movies, Kate was awoken by someone caressing her. It was Uncle George.

Frightened, Kate said she had to use the bathroom. Uncle George followed her into the bathroom and locked the door. That was the first time he molested her.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, you’ll learn how Kate was trafficked by her own family.

 

Rich’s Story

 

Five-year-old Rich didn’t understand why his father was so verbally and physically abusive toward him.

When Rich’s mom was admitted to the hospital again due to a tumor on her back, Rich’s dad sent him to live with an aunt and uncle who both began molesting him shortly after he arrived.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, read more of Rich’s story of drugs, depression, and survival sex.

 

Samantha’s Story

 

Samantha and her friend Karen, both in junior high, were excited to be tagging along with Karen’s older brothers to a local party full of high-school students. They all knew drugs would be there…all kinds of drugs.

After a little mingling among the party-goers, Samantha and Karen cozied up to a college-aged guy with bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. He offered them pot and both gladly accepted.

That’s the last thing Samantha remembered about the party.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, learn about how traffickers emotionally control their victims, so much so that Samantha returned to the “life”– after being rescued.

 

Deidra’s Story

 

Deidra and Aaron knew each other from a special-ed class at school. Aaron was interested in community service and was from a devout Mormon family. He even had dinner with Deidra and her family once. So why would her parents need to be concerned when, after spending a couple hours playing video games at Deidra’s house, Aaron suggested they “go to Target and get a Coke”?

During their trip to Target, Aaron spent an unusual amount of time texting and checking his phone, which made Deidra uncomfortable since he seemed to be ignoring her.

After making their purchases, they waited for more than ten minutes in Aaron’s parked car, silently.

Suddenly, a Jeep and a Hummer drove up. Several teens piled out of the vehicles. Deidra recognized a few of them. They invited Aaron and Deidra to a party. Deidra decided she wanted to go, but Aaron decided he did not.

The kids whisked Deidra into the Hummer.

In Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children, follow Deidra as she is kidnapped and forced to prostitute herself and Deidra’s family as they never stop searching for her

 

* * *

Made in the U.S.A.: the Sex Trafficking of America’s Children is a valuable resource and an educational tool with which to arm yourself and protect your children.

 

Author Alisa Jordheim includes several resources in her book for parents, who after reading these children’s stories are compelled to get involved to protect America’s children.

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