Category Archives: sex trafficking

A Modern Plague – Trafficking in a Small Town

Main Street, Smyrna, DE, Author Dough4872 (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

The I-95 Corridor which links New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC with Miami is a major conduit for human trafficking, a plague that has spread across this country [1A].  According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as many as 100,000 children each year are victims of sex trafficking in the US.

Some 70% of trafficking incidents occur at truck stops.  There, predatory pimps seek out desperate young girls and boys, often runaways [1B].  Most vulnerable are children between the ages of 12 and 14 from broken homes, with low self-esteem and a history of trauma [1C].

Given its nightlife and gambling, Jersey City is considered a trafficking hot spot [1D].

Though situated on the I-95 Corridor, Smyrna – a small town in Delaware founded before the American Revolution – would seem an unlikely location for a human trafficking operation.  However, Smyrna police this week arrested James Walls and Sha Shen at the Kiki Spa for prostitution and human trafficking [2]. Continue reading

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Courage

Motivational poster, Cadiz, Spain, Author Emilio Rodriguez Posada (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes.  In this instance, it took the form of a captive 14 y.o. girl, in fear for her life.

The girl was a Michigan runaway, kidnapped in Indiana, and forced into prostitution in California.  Though aware that her kidnappers would monitor calls, she bravely reached out to the non-profit, Crisis Text Line, which then contacted police.

As a result, the San Jose Police Dept. raided Motel 6, locating the girl and two other women held there against their will.  Antoine Williams, Christopher Lyon Johnson, and Curtis Lee Russell were arrested, and charged with kidnapping, pimping, and human trafficking.

Crisis Text Line https://www.crisistextline.org/ is a free service that connects people in crisis with counselors.  Over 100 million messages have been processed to date.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31: 6).

[1]  People, “How a Text From a 14-Year-Old Girl Busted an Alleged Sex Trafficking Ring” by Christine Pelisek, 5/31/19, https://people.com/crime/text-14-year-old-girl-alleged-sex-ring/ .

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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A Survivor Turns Advocate

Kidnapping Survivor, Elizabeth Smart, Author KOMUnews, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/komunews/7405187850/ (CC BY-SA 2. 0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Elizabeth Smart – kidnapped, raped, and tortured over a 9-month period, as a teen – has since become a victims’ advocate [1A].

Now in her early 30s, Smart wrote in a recent Instagram post:

“I never thought I would say that I’m grateful for what happened to me as a 14 year old girl but I can honestly say that I’m not sorry it happened to me because of what it has allowed me to do, the people I’ve been able to meet, and the cause that has become and driven such a large part of my life [1B].”

Smart has spoken with the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association https://www.fppoa.org/ and the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association https://georgiasheriffs.org/index.php/programs-services/sex-offender-registry on the importance of the Sex Offender Registry.

In 2018, she and her husband, Matt Gilmour, welcomed their third child.

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame
” (Joel 2: 25-26).

[1A and 1B]  Newsweek, “Elizabeth Smart Says She’s ‘Grateful’ For Brutal 2002 Kidnapping” by Daniel Avery, 8/28/19, https://www.newsweek.com/elizabeth-smart-grateful-kidnapping-instagram-1456610.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Reckoning

Jeffrey Epstein mug shot, Author/Source Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Dept. (PD as created by govt.)

A New York grand jury has indicted billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein, on charges of trafficking dozens of underage girls for sex between 2002-2005 [1].

Around 80 victims have come forward, some as young as 14 y.o. at the time.

The girls were sometimes promised modeling contracts, and sometimes given money to recruit other girls.  The promise of modeling contracts is not uncommon, among sex traffickers [2].

A Life of Luxury

Epstein, 66 y.o., led a life of luxury, regularly associating with the likes of Prince Andrew, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and Alec Baldwin [3].  With unlimited funds, six opulent homes, and a private island at his disposal, Epstein lacked for nothing.

Nothing, it appears, but character. Continue reading

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Lost on the Wind

Native American Woman, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA, Accession No. 2003.003.040  (PD)

There is a haunting exhibit outside the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC [1].  Red dresses flutter in the wind.  They represent the thousands of indigenous women killed or missing in this country.

The topic of abuse among Native Americans does not generate much publicity.  The House of Representatives, Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, recently held a hearing on the subject.  Grandly titled “Unmasking the Hidden Crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women:  Exploring Solutions to End the Cycle of Violence”, the hearing received little press.

What we know is that the murder rate for American Indian and Native Alaskan women on tribal lands is 10 times the national average.  Over 5700 were reported murdered or missing in 2016 alone.

Of that number a mere fraction – 116 to be precise – made it to a Dept. of Justice database.  In point of fact, there is no national database that reliably tracks these women.

Poverty is deeply rooted on the reservation.  Existence there is spare in the best of times.  That may be a factor contributing to the violence.

Other problems include jurisdictional confusion as among federal, state, and tribal agencies; the all too frequent dismissal by law enforcement of reports of missing women struggling with addiction or other issues; and a focus by sex traffickers on Native American women as “exotic”.

These were all real women.  Each and every one of them had a name; had a mother.  Each had hopes and dreams.  But their voices are lost on the wind now.

[1]  Washington Post, “Red dresses flutter, empty, on the National Mall and this is why they should haunt us” by  Theresa Vargas, 3/16/19,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/red-dresses-flutter-empty-on-the-national-mall-and-this-is-why-they-should-haunt-us/2019/03/15/715d6f14-4753-11e9-aaf8-4512a6fe3439_story.html?utm_term=.bccceb52d7bd.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

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Systemic Evil

  • Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on YouTube. A large volume of child erotica is being monetized on YouTube [1].  The YouTube algorithm unwittingly works to favor child sexual abuse imagery.  Disney, AT&T, Hasbro, Nestle, and McDonald’s have pulled advertising over the fact their ads are running on videos of young girls which pedophiles have sexualized.  YouTube is blocking predatory comments, but not taking down these videos though social media is often used to facilitate grooming.
  • Violation by Labor Secretary of Crime Victims’ Rights Act.  Judge Kenneth Marra has ruled that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when he arranged a plea deal for multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein without informing victims [2].  Despite having engaged in human trafficking and the abuse of more than 80 underage victims, Epstein was sentenced to a mere 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach county jail.  Acosta, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, not only failed to prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, but denied victims their opportunity to oppose the plea deal in open court or appeal it.  Moreover, the secret plea deal shut down an ongoing FBI investigation, guaranteeing Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from further prosecution.

Continue reading

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Sex Tourism

Detail from painting at Casa del Centenario, Pompeii (PD)*

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was known for its hedonism.  Archaeologic evidence has been found of numerous brothels.  Erotic art was common in homes.  Phallic symbols were used all over the city, as signs of fertility and good fortune [1].

This may sound titillating to us.  We have not though progressed far, in the centuries since.  Sex tourism is widely advertised today.  Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia are among the countries that derive income from it [2].

Those who plan their vacations around the sexual activities – legal and illegal – available in foreign countries are unlikely to consider their impact on the local men, women, and children selling their bodies (and souls) to survive. Continue reading

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Hope for Sex Trafficking Survivors

Acer Aspire 4930G laptop, Author Jeff777BC (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Catie Hart was trafficked by a man she thought of as her boyfriend.  Their relationship became increasingly threatening, till the 18 y.o. was forced into prostitution.  Fear kept her from escaping.

The line between “boyfriend” and “trafficker” was intentionally blurred from the outset.  This type of grooming is typical.  Catie’s story did not though end there.  She is now training to become a computer programmer.

The fledgling non-profit AnnieCannons https://www.anniecannons.com/ helps survivors of human trafficking achieve financial independence by teaching them web design.  Since survivors are often stigmatized by a past which includes an arrest record, AnnieCannons, also, assists graduates of its program with networking and job placement.

Obstacles remain.  The non-profit operates on a small scale.  While involved with the program, survivors must provide their own food and housing.  With limited job skills, some continue to work in so called “gentlemen’s” clubs to do this.

But, as Helen Keller, said:

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

Christ, of course, offers hope to all.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5: 17).

[1]  Global Post, “This sex trafficking survivor is moving 0n — by learning how to code” by Arthur Nazaryan,  8/17/18, https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-08-17/sex-trafficking-survivor-moving-learning-how-code.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Time and the Value of Women

“Sales in Poznan”, Author MOs810 (CC-BY-SA-3.0 Unported)

‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ ” (Eccl. 1: 2).

Clearly, women in Western culture are valued for their youth.  We see this all around us.

Ads for every conceivable product from liquor to cable television feature young women (with two ton steel vehicles actually termed “sexy” to increase sales).

Then there are the countless products marketed to women for the ever present “problem” of aging (creams which claim rejuvenating power, hair dyes, Botox injections, and breast implants, to name just a few).  As if living were insufficient.

Starlets in flimsy clothing populate our magazines.  Girls as young as 14 model for us, in the place of adult women.  Meanwhile, women in their 60s seek plastic surgery – even in vitro fertilization – to prolong their saleability.

Each moment lived, a woman’s value decreases or so it can seem.

A Flight from Death

Perhaps the urge to remain young, or at least appear young, is a flight from death.  If anything, however, it highlights the inexorability of time.  The race is rigged.  Everyone loses in the end.

Christians know that this jaded view is incorrect, incomplete since it fails to take God into account.  Some 3000 years ago, when King Solomon composed the Book of Ecclesiastes (from which the quote above is taken), he deliberately wrote from that skewed perspective to drive home his point about the need for God in our lives.

Human nature has not improved much, in the intervening centuries.  We remain susceptible to the adversary’s lies.

True Value

But if youth is valuable, maturity is no less so. Our value in God’s eyes does not diminish with age.  It was never linked to time, in the first place.  Our true value derives from the fact that we have all, male and female, been created by God and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our Salvation. Continue reading

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