Does Slavery Still Exist?
Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery! Does slavery still exist in this day in time? Just what is human trafficking and sex slavery? Who does it affect? Should we be concerned about this ever growing problem?
What Is Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking is the practice of illegally transporting people from one area to another area for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Sex slavery is forcing anyone into commercial sex acts. When any minor under age 21 (Thank you Governor John Bel Edwards, who just signed a bill raising the minimum age from 18 to 21) is engaged in commercial sex acts, they are automatically considered victims of sex trafficking under the law.
Who Are the Victims?
The pimps look for their victims in clubs or walking the streets. Middle school-age girls are the main target to be enslaved in commercial sex business. Young men are often transported overseas and used either as sex slaves or free labor exploitation. Young boys are easy to lure if they have been abused. Often when they seek to get out of one situation, they fall into something worse. For every three trafficking victims, one is a male and two are female. Most of the adult male victims are exploited into slave labor. They think they are going to get a job and are promised a life of luxury, but instead end up in a world filled with pain and despair.
Does it Happen Here?
Hearing a lot about it, I decided to see how the state of Louisiana was affected by this evil thing. Surprisingly, I found that we were very much a part of human trafficking problem. Louisiana, which is not a very big state, had over 400 cases alone in 2016. New Orleans to Shreveport, and all points in-between, have all played a part in the statistics. New Orleans is ranked in the top twenty cities in the country for human trafficking.
So how does Baton Rouge fit into this equation? We have an average of 62 cases of trafficking a year. Of those 62 cases, 32 cases are home grown, meaning that the victims are from the local area. Cases of home grown trafficking are usually runaways who are easy prey for the pimps to pick up. These pimps, who are men as well as women, promise the runaway, “a better life. ”They dangle clothes, gadgets, money, drugs and alcohol to lure them in. The young people walk blindly into a trap and when they realize what is happening, it is too late…their freedom has been stolen.
So, why does Baton Rouge have this problem? According to Emily Morris-Chenevert, director of Trafficking Hope in Baton Rouge, says that it is the two interstates, I-10 and I-12, running through the city that make it a hub for the traffickers. Baton Rouge has become a stopping off place for traffickers from New Orleans to Houston or Memphis.The human trafficking business is controlled mostly by “pimps” and is a multi-billion dollar business.
When asked why this has grown to be such a big business, she answered “gangs can sell drugs just once, while women, on the other hand, as forced prostitutes can be sold 15 – 25 times a day.” Ms. Chenevert said although human trafficking is alive and well in the Baton Rouge area, but that the state has some of the best laws to fight trafficking. The prison sentences for human traffickers are 15-50 years, with fines up to $50,000 and they have to register as a sex offender when they are released.
Trafficked by Friends and Family
Not all cases involve strangers luring young people into traps. Sometimes a dependent’s own family will traffic them. Oftentimes, they have a drug addiction to support. A while back the local news carried a story that happened in the nearby small town of Amite, Louisiana. A young lady, who had just lost her mother, was taken in by some of her relatives. These animals forced their dependent young relative to live in a cage in their backyard. She was transported to other areas and made to perform multiple sex acts with multiple men. To add to this, the young lady was autistic. Fortunately, through the work of neighbors and undercover agents, this young lady was freed from her captors.
Here in Baton Rouge, three people (see the image above) were recently arrested and charged with trafficking a 15-year-old girl for prostitution. The traffickers were all young people in their 20s who may have been traffic victims themselves. Now they are off the street and the young girl is back in Arkansas with her family.
How They Control Victims
How can the traffickers manipulate and control their victims so easily? They are often controlled through threats of violence against the victim or someone the victim loves. In some cases, the victim doesn’t realize he/she is a victim until his/her freedom is gone. Then, it is too late. The pimps, or guides as they are sometimes called, will escort their victim on an airplane to another destination to be exploited. Although the victim is in public, he/she is too afraid to seek help, but there are signs we can look for.
When in public, especially when travelling, be aware of these warning signs that a young person is being trafficked:
- The victim may have a tattoo with a bar code with the word, “daddy.”
- They can’t provide details of their departure, location, destination or flight information.
- Communication seems scripted or inconsistent with their stories.
- The victim can’t move around in an airport or airplane as if they are being watched or followed.
- They are afraid to discuss themselves around others.
- The trafficking victim may be dressed in a sexualized manner and may seem under the influence.
Along with these warning signs, there are a couple of other indicators you can be aware of that could save a life. First, the young person seems disconnected from family, friends, and community organizations. Secondly, they do not attend school.
By no means should you approach someone you think is a victim by yourself. Notify the authorities and let them handle it. If you try to handle it yourself, you could put yourself and the victim in grave danger. But, by reaching out you may save someone from a life of hell.
I Timothy 1:8 -10: the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
More to Come
Next week, I will post Part Two about human trafficking. I want to thank God for inspiring me to write about this subject and opening my eyes to the problem, for without Him, nothing is possible. Man has been enslaving each other since the beginning of time. Read the Bible, starting with Genesis for examples. I pray for the victims and their families, as well as, for the captors. I pray that the Holy Spirit will enter the heart of the captors and they will turn away from a life of evil. For the victims, I pray they will stay close to Jesus while they while they are caught in this situation and remain close to him as they heal.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.