The sex trade and human trafficking rarely make headline news, but today is an exception. Trafficking and prostitution reaches much farther into society than many would think. Yes, it can even affect you. Let me tell you why...
Who are these people?
A common misconception is that drug addicts and prostitutes fuel the sex trade- WRONG! In most cases, good but vulnerable people like run away children, immigrants, young people desperate for work, unaccompanied travelers abroad, and refugees are preyed on by traffickers. Traffickers disguise themselves as modeling agencies, unlegitimate job agencies, taxi services, coyotes, and even boarding homes which lure people into "good paying jobs abroad", a modeling career, or even a safe place to stay. Once in the hands of traffickers, (mostly female) victims are often beaten into submission, injected with drugs to make them dependent addicts, transported to a location far from home, and then sent to work... Taking prostitutes, brothel workers, escorts, and even pornography for face value is a grave mistake.
Why is this relevant?
The stories of people in the sex trade are sad and gruesome ones but they must be heard! As long as there are vulnerable people like young women and children being forced into modern day slavery, we must be aware of the sign and symptoms to help curb such gross violations of human rights. In regards to trafficking in the United States, the majority of victims are immigrants who were forced to this country from Latin America and Eastern Europe. However, there are cases where vulnerable young adults from the U.S. become prey to local predators. Michelle Mondo from the San Antonio Express News explains this process in her article titled, Grim Story of S.A. Sex Trade.
A 16-year-old girl's revelations have shed light on seedy sex trafficking on San Antonio's streets, where the young and the vulnerable can be easily manipulated into lives of prostitution and drugs, authorities say. Badillo said the girl, whom authorities are calling Angela, was lured into prostitution at age 11, soon after running away from home. For the next four years, she endured abuse and forced prostitution.How can you help?
When she came to the attention of authorities in August 2008, Angela was addicted to heroin and tested positive for HIV and hepatitis C, Badillo said. It's unknown if she contracted the diseases through unprotected sex or shared needles. Badillo said Angela's story isn't uncommon. He said the sheriff's human trafficking unit is investigating at least 24 other cases in which children are being forced into prostitution.
“It's very easy for these kids to be lured into this lifestyle,” he said. “One, because they run away, they have no one to turn to and they're in the streets.”
Angela told authorities Delgado was the first person to force her into prostitution when she first ran away from home at age 11. Her mother was a drug addict and her father was in prison. On the streets, she said, she was approached by Delgado, who took her in and promised to care for her. Badillo said Angela told investigators that after one week Delgado said she had to earn her keep.
“She asked what work she could do because she was only 11 and no one would hire her,” Badillo said.
It was then, officials say, that Delgado took her to the streets and told her she would be a prostitute. Delgado even instructed her on what sex acts to perform, how much to charge and where to take the johns, authorities said. About two years later, Angela escaped from Delgado and returned to her grandparents in Atascosa County, Badillo said. He said she stayed there a short time before running away again. This time, she met Maldonado through a relative. Badillo said Angela told them Maldonado gave her a syringe full of heroin. It was her first time doing drugs, she said, and she became hooked. To support her habit and his, Maldonado made her work the streets, Badillo said...
Anyone can help combat trafficking and make the world of modern day slavery smaller by simply learning more, being aware of potential indicators, and making a phone call to 1-888-373-7888 if you witness suspicious activity characteristic of trafficking. Please visit the links included in this post and take action!
*Visuals courtesy of www.nowpublic.com, www.gabnet.org