Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor and a modern-day form of slavery. How many of us have thought about such a thing happening in our cities or neighborhood. The majority of us know there is a problem with prostitution in our cities and will most likely think about grown women selling their bodies to make money for themselves. But how many of you have thought about human trafficking and the selling of young innocent children for profit?
Norfolk and other surrounding cities are waking up to the reality that human trafficking is a problem that is growing and must be addressed to combat this growing problem. Imagine being 15 years old, homeless, desperate for food, shelter, and stability. You meet someone who wants to help you and because you are alone and vulnerable you go with this individual. This is when the nightmare begins, the kind gentlemen or woman is demanding that you repay for the kindness showed you. Thus, you are turned out on the street to deal with the first of dozens of men who will eventually buy your young body from a human trafficker who has exploited you and made you a prisoner for years to come.
Welcome to the tawdry and unsavory world of human trafficking, it is not prostitution, which is the engagement of sex with someone for payment. Brad Myles, executive director of the Polaris Project, stated that the crime of sex trafficking has three parties: one person holding the victim, while using “force, fraud or coercion” to make the victim engage in sex acts for payment, and the third party paying for the sex This is a travesty and plague that we often associate with other countries, but it is now becoming a growing problem in the United States. Although there are no statistics for the U.S., the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children stated that at least 100,000 children across the country are trafficked each year. According to End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT), an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children are at risk of commercial sex exploitation in the United States. To make matters worse, criminals have started recruiting from middle school classrooms, high school classrooms, and social media sites to recruit students into forced domestic sex and labor rings.
In concluding this commentary, a follow-up article is necessary in order to shed more light on this human atrocity. Therefore, stay tuned for the next article and learn what policies and laws have been created to combat this fast growing problem.