Month: January 2011

Superbowl a magnet for under-age sex trade

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By Mickey Goodman

ATLANTA | Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:10pm EST

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Pimps will traffic thousands of under-age prostitutes to Texas for Sunday’s Super Bowl, hoping to do business with men arriving for the big game with money to burn, child rights advocates said.

As the country’s largest sporting event, the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will make the Dallas-Fort Worth area a magnet for business of all kinds.

That includes the multimillion dollar, under-age sex industry, said activists and law enforcement officials working to combat what they say is an annual spike in trafficking of under-age girls ahead of the Super Bowl.

“The Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a trafficking prevention meeting in January.

Girls who enter the grim trade face a life of harsh treatment and danger, according to a Dallas police report in 2010. Few who emerge are willing to speak about it. Tina Frundt, 36, is an exception.

Now married and living in Washington D.C., Frundt was lured into sex work at 14 after she fell for a 24-year-old who invited her to leave home in 1989 and join his “family” in Cleveland, Ohio.

That family consisted of the man and three girls living in a motel. When Frundt declined on the first night to have sex with her boyfriend’s friends they raped her.

“I was angry with myself for not listening to him, so the next night when he sent me out on the street and told me … (to earn $500) I listened,” she said in a telephone interview.

Frundt paced the streets for hours and finally got into a client’s car.

When she came home in the morning with just $50, her pimp beat her in front of the other girls to teach them all a lesson and sent her back onto the street the next night with the warning not to return until she had reached the quota.

The scenario was repeated night after night as Frundt’s pimp moved his stable across the Midwest. Any sign of rebellion led to further beatings. Escape seemed out of the question.

“I was a teenager in a strange town with no money and no place to go,” she said. She finally escaped by getting arrested.

ENSNARED

Up to 300,000 girls between 11 and 17 are lured into the U.S. sex industry annually, according to a 2007 report sponsored by the Department of Justice and written by the nonprofit group Shared Hope International.

Some 90 percent of runaways and children whose parents force them to leave home fall into the trade and are often beaten, drugged, raped or imprisoned to force compliance, said a section of the report which referred to Atlanta.

Pimps tattoo girls with “$” signs or the word “Daddy” and take them to unfamiliar cities where they are more vulnerable.

Typically, pimps recruit unwitting girls at shopping centers, mall events and on the Internet. Once ensnared, shame, fear and psychological manipulation by pimps make it hard to break free.

Clients, often called “Johns”, hook up with girls via the Internet, through hotels, massage parlors, strip clubs and escort services, the report said.

“At previous Super Bowls, pimps hired cab drivers to turn their vehicles into mobile brothels,” said Deena Graves, executive director of child advocacy group Traffick911.

Up to 10,000 adult and under age girls have come to previous Super Bowls, said Jerry Strickland, communications director in the Texas attorney general’s office, who acknowledged that precise figures are hard to gauge.

“The statistics are a moving target. They (under age sex workers) can’t be counted in turnstiles like ticket holders,” he said in an interview.

RESCUE

Law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups rescued around 50 girls during the previous two Super Bowls, said Graves. Six were registered on the Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. One had been trafficked from Hawaii.

“Even one rescue is considered a success,” said Frundt who now advocates for exploited girls and has founded a girls’ treatment center and a safe house for girls in Washington D.C.

To fight the trade, authorities, child welfare advocates and the airline industry are collaborating.

Representatives from American Airlines, Delta, United, Quantas and American Eagle are holding a training session to help them spot signs of trafficking. Nancy Rivard, president of Airline Ambassadors International, will also work with another 100 flight crews to distribute materials on flights.

Some 67,000 people signed a petition on http://www.change.org opposing sex trafficking as part of a campaign by Traffick911 called “I’m Not Buying It!” that is supported by 60 nonprofits and faith-based groups.

That campaign has also attracted heavy hitters like Dallas Cowboy Jay Ratliff, a three-time Pro Bowler, who made a public service announcement entitled “Real men don’t buy children. They don’t buy sex.”

Ratliff, who himself has two daughters, is recruiting other National Football League players for the campaign.

“You hear of sex trafficking overseas,” he wrote in an email from Hawaii where he is playing in the Pro Bowl. “But you never imagine it is happening in the United States.”

(Editing by Matthew Bigg and Greg McCune)

from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/31/idINIndia-54543020110131?pageNumber=2

Human trafficking is here – help fight it

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By Joan Markoff and David Blicker
Special to The Bee
Published: Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 5E

Although slavery in the United States officially ended in 1865, the little known, painful reality is that today, 146 years later, Sacramento is a city plagued by human trafficking. In fact, Sacramento is among 18 medium-sized U.S. cities identified as a hub for human trafficking and is among the top five cities experiencing an epidemic of child prostitution, according to an FBI report.

Sacramento has all the characteristics that make it particularly appealing to traffickers. It has a large immigrant population that is susceptible to exploitation; it is located conveniently on the I-5 corridor at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Highway 50; and as the gateway to the Central Valley, it is home to a multitude of major agricultural employers hungry for field laborers.

Modern day slavery isn’t just a local problem; it’s a national and international one as well. According to CIA estimates, 15,000 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year. The U.S State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked annually across international borders worldwide.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the 21st century, ranking second after drug smuggling. It is estimated to be a $9 billion industry. The U.S. is one of the top three destination points for trafficked victims, and California, New York, Texas and Nevada are the top destination states.

Contrary to popular opinion, trafficking isn’t just limited to the sex trade. It also appears in the form of domestic servitude, sweatshop factories and migrant agricultural work. Traffickers use violence, fraud and coercion to compel women, men and children into slavery. Many of these victims do not speak or understand English and are unable to communicate with anyone who might be able to help them.

There are two components to an effective community strategy for combating slavery and human trafficking: education and funding of appropriate support services. Although slavery is illegal and law enforcement works tirelessly to eradicate this crime, it is still easily concealed. Accordingly, it is vital that members of the public are educated about the existence and signs of trafficking in their community.

In many cases, human trafficking victims are able to escape because neighbors and community members have correctly identified the warning signs and reported their suspicions to local law enforcement. A well-funded social services network is the second component of a successful strategy.

Only when victims are confident they will be guaranteed protection and a realistic opportunity to reside independently in the community, will they come forward. Adequately funded support services specifically dedicated to protecting and integrating survivors into society is critical to any effective campaign to ending human trafficking.

Sacramento has a limited but committed network of support services that work to educate the public and assist victims of human trafficking to integrate into society. The Rescue & Restore Coalition is a group of agencies, nongovernmental organizations and individuals who work to provide basic life support such as food, shelter, clothing and social services to survivors of human trafficking in Sacramento. The lead members of the coalition are Opening Doors Inc., the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, WEAVE and My Sister’s House, each providing direct services to victims of human trafficking.

Freedom is our most treasured and fundamental principle of human rights. We have an obligation as a community to ensure that Sacramento does not become a haven for human traffickers. Join us by attending any one of the events we are hosting in January and by spreading the word that the citizens of Sacramento will not tolerate slavery in their own backyard.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Opening Doors Inc. is coordinating a series of educational events to inform the community about human trafficking. The campaign culminates in an event titled “Human Trafficking in Our Own Backyard” at 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at the activities and recreation center at the University of California, Davis.

This event will consist of training, speakers and written testimonies of survivors of human trafficking.

Further information about events held in January can be found at:

HOTLINE

For victims and community members seeking services or advice, call (916) 920-2952.”

from:  http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/09/3308280/human-trafficking-is-here-help.html