What is sex trafficking?
Sex trafficking is modern day slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion. It is estimated that just over 50% of the victims of sex trafficking are minors. The average age of entry in the trade is 12-14 years old. The average victim trafficked is forced to service between 20-40 clients per day.
Sex trafficking is present in many countries all over the world, as well as in all 50 states. It is very difficult to give an accurate number of people currently enslaved in the world; The estimated number is 27 million people worldwide. It has been published that every 30 seconds a person is trafficked worldwide.
Although the majority of people trafficked are women and children, there is no consistent face of a victim. This happens to people of all different social statuses, classes, and nationalities.
There is also no consistent face of a trafficker. There is a wide range of operations in trafficking. This includes, individual pimps, small ring operations, even large business like operations. Most often, they are loose knit decentralized criminal networks.
There are many ways in which a person is trafficked. Traffickers recruit women and children through a variety of deceptive means. One typical situation is promises of employment to people in less than favorable life situations. This happens here in the United States and overseas. Most frequently in the U.S the victims are teen runaways or illegal immigrants. Overseas, the victim is typically a person who is desperate to provide for their family. They are transported to another country, promised a job and all identification documents are taken from them. The perpetrators prey on people in vulnerable life situations and sometimes take months to gain the trust of the victim. Usually, they pose as a love interest, other times befriending them.
Who is doing something about it?
The current federal law in place again trafficking is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. It was originally introduced in 2000 but has been reauthorized with modifications in 2002 and 2005. It has reintroduced for 2011 and on October 13, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the TVPRA by a vote of 12-6. The Senate bill is now ready to be voted on by the full Senate. This law authorizes the annual Trafficking in person report and established a global minimum stand of confronting trafficking. In this U.S the TVPRA established trafficking as a federal crime. This act also requires assistance be provided for victims and visa protection be granted for victims trafficked across international borders.
Each state has different laws, for Virginia in specific there are no laws that are specific regarding trafficking. There is a statue for abduction and in 2010 that statue was expanded. The expansion included abduction for the purpose of subjecting the person to forced labor or services and raising penalties for pimping.
House Bill 1898 passed in 2011, changing the penalty for any person who abducts a minor with the purpose of prostitution or manufacturing porn to a class 2 felony. The bill also provides that any person who receives any money on account of causing any person to engage in forced labor, prostitution, or the manufacture of child pornography is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
HB 2190 also passed in 2011. This bill is for victims of trafficking to received services from the department of social services. This would require that the commonwealth DSS would provide service for the victims to which they may be entitled to. This bill also require that education and training programs be made to increase awareness of trafficking and services available to victims. Also, this bill provides assistance for victims to return to their place of origin if they desire.
What can you do about it?
Step 1: Prayer. Gather a group of friends, church groups, or even individuals. We all know the powerful impact of prayer. The victims need prayer for hope and restoration. A big need is also prayer for the “johns” and their spiritual healing. After all, we know this is a spiritual battle.
Step 2: Awareness. There are many organizations that are in need of your help. Each of us have a gift from God and it is important that we use that good to fight in this battle against injustice.
Step 3: Giving. We all have something to give; this could me prayer, hope, time to volunteer, or monetary gifts.
There have been great strides in the past few years to the problem of human trafficking in Virginia, but there is still much progress to be made. There are many grassroots organizations in need of community assistance and volunteers.
If you would like to get further involved in this cause or want to learn more, please contact International Justice Mission, Regent University.
-IJM meets monthly to raise awareness and educate the community of the problem and how to be a part of solution. This includes students and citizens of Hampton Roads.