I wrote this blog piece mostly on July 30, the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Let me give a disclaimer: this piece is based on what I know to date and is only a peek at even that. It is my hope that your eyes and heart will be opened as you read this, and that you will begin to see signs of trafficking and believe that it is happening and want to stop it. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter that involves, literally in many cases, the life and death of current and future generations.
ABOUT THE IMAGE
The first place winner of the Traffickinghub campaign’s #ARTXFREEDOM art contest is Danielle Ballard with this unforgettable charcoal drawing, eliciting both outrage and empathy. “My piece is a young survivor looking at a viewer. Her voice and experience is silenced by Pornhub, however her exposed chest is covered with real comments from Pornhub users on their website. I want people to see how absolutely horrific and dehumanizing the porn industry is and how Pornhub completely disregards both child sexual abuse material and rape.”
WHAT IS TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS?
In the United States, 800,000 children go missing each year (more than 2000 per day). Trafficking cases involving children have skyrocketed in the last few months. A child in the U.S. is many thousands of times more likely to be trafficked than to die of CoVid-19, and all the masking makes identification much, much harder. Let that sink in.
In addition, 40% of trafficking victims in the U.S. are Black. In metro areas such as Los Angeles, 92% of victims are Black. Girls and women are the majority of victims. Here are some links with information from Grantmakers for Girls of Color:
Executive Order on Combating Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation:
All Legislation since 2017 to Combat Human Trafficking:
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), as amended (22 U.S.C. § 7102), defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:
- Sex trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; (and)
- Labor trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Notice that the sex trafficking portion of this law specifically refers to minors under the age of 18 who are involved in “commercial” sex (i.e., someone other than the person being trafficked is making money on the act or promise of the act). Labor trafficking can involve persons of any age because there is work being demanded with no fair compensation being given in return. This post will focus on trafficking for purposes of sex or other physical and mental exploitation and on sexual abuse by persons in positions of power and authority.
The comparable international convention regarding human trafficking is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, also from 2000. As many as 27 million people are victims of modern-day slavery (human trafficking) worldwide, and human trafficking is a $200 billion enterprise globally and growing (up from approximately $10 billion per year in 2005 per UNICEF). The majority—an estimated 18 million—are from India, Nepal, and Pakistan (Free the Slaves). Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors (International Justice Mission). In 2009, the head of India’s Central Bureau of Investigations estimated that there are more than one million children in prostitution. (IJM) The majority of trafficking victims are used for sexual exploitation; others for bonded labor, domestic work, military conscription, marriage, illicit adoption, sport, begging, or organ harvesting (Combating Child Trafficking, UNICEF 2005).
I find it interesting that on this World Day, Germany reports uncovering a 30,000 person dark internet pedophilia ring sharing child porn and tips on how to abuse children. I found 3 different reports that each give a slightly different slant (Australia, UK, Germany). Light shining on darkness!
WHY IS THIS SUBJECT IN THE NEWS SO MUCH LATELY?
You may be saying to yourself that sex trafficking (whether it was called that or not) is certainly at least as old as recorded history, and you would be correct. Sex trafficking and sexual abuse is not about sexuality. It is about control. One big worldview change that has come about in modern times is the idea that individuals have rights to personal freedoms (speech, worship, movement, choice of employment, and so forth). Many of these rights are written into the Bill of Rights as amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Because these rights exist in law in one form or another in many countries, generations have grown up expecting them to be exercised and protected. Note that there are still a significant number of countries that do not guarantee these rights under law or where the exercise of these rights is not well protected. For this reason, immigrants have come to the United States since its founding seeking the umbrella of citizenship and protection.
There have been sex trafficking and abuse scandals despite our protections, however. Social media and the omnipresence of personal cameras and citizen journalists have opened the door for untold numbers of curious citizens to learn about trafficking and even to realize in some cases that they have been trafficked or have known others who were. Freedom of Information laws and other information access statutes – though often difficult and time-consuming to enforce – are providing access to primary documents and transcripts of perpetrator and victim testimonies. And the victims have begun to come forward in numbers much greater than ever before.
SOME RECENT SCANDALS
Here are some examples of scandals that may not seem related. Please do your own research and reach your own conclusions. There are many citizen researchers producing podcasts and videos online. Two of my favorites publish under the names of Amazing Polly and The Corbett Report. I’m happy to give you more resources if you message me with your interests.
The Catholic Church has undergone waves of scandals involving priests – sworn to celibacy – who have violated children of both sexes. Many victims have come forward and many millions of dollars in damages have been paid out. The challenge of celibacy in the presence of human arousal, corruption, greed, and control is nothing new. But the uncovering of the crimes and the public prosecution of those involved seems to be.
The recent online #MeToo Movement highlighted victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault among those 18 and older, especially in schools and workplaces. Such acts are not considered trafficking but can condition young men and women to continued exploitation or take advantage of those who have already been conditioned due to incidents that occurred when they were minors.
One high profile target of the #MeToo movement was Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein and many other top executives in Hollywood, media, business, government, and charitable organizations have been and will continue to be exposed. Mr. Weinstein’s fall from grace was very public, and he is in prison.
Speaking of charitable organizations and child trafficking, have you heard of the We Charities (formerly called Free the Children) based in Canada? Here is a great video to get you started on the general subject.
Jeffrey Epstein’s strange world of high finances, world leaders, child sex, weird science (cybernetics, transhumanism, and other forms of eugenics), and occult practices is slowly coming to light. It is said that Jeffrey Epstein used children as currency. He died shortly after being jailed. There is debate about whether he committed suicide or whether he was killed (this is the case with many others associated with the Epstein “in crowd”). His colleague and handler, Ghislaine Maxwell, is alive and now in custody, and documents related to the Epstein case have been and will continue to be released. Her knowledge of Epstein’s operations and many other operations is extensive, and the possible ramifications of her testimony – especially for those who were frequent flyers on the Lolita Express – are sending shock waves around the world. Read the names on the flight logs and then research each one of them individually and their ties to each other. More good news is that Ghislaine Maxwell just lost a bid to stop the release of more documents.
Planned Parenthood has admitted to selling baby parts including from aborted babies born alive. Is this trafficking? Babies are protected under the Constitution.
Oprah Winfrey opened an all-girls school in South Africa that was wracked with allegations regarding predatory abuse. She even had to stand trial in Philadelphia in 2010 to defend her involvement in the school and its management.
There are many other people and organizations that could be listed here with details that many of you would not even want to read.
WHO ARE THE GOOD GUYS?
One of the challenges of supporting the anti-trafficking movement is to know which organizations are legitimate and which have mixed motives and may even be involved in trafficking themselves. There are probably many local groups that are extremely reputable. If you are in the Pittsburgh PA area, a couple of groups that have been highly recommended to me are the Asservo Project in Pittsburgh and Zera House in West Virginia. Click on the links to see live interviews about each one.
I have known about Operation Underground Railroad since shortly after they were founded in December, 2013. Through my association with doTERRA International, I have seen founder Tim Ballard speak and have followed O.U.R.’s successes, growth, and challenges. I was particularly impressed when I saw that Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin, and the team had decided to get involved with O.U.R. Coach Tomlin explains his why in this video. From the O.U.R. mission statement: “we’ve gathered the world’s experts in extraction operations and in anti-child trafficking efforts to bring an end to child slavery. O.U.R.’s Ops Team consists of former CIA, past and current law enforcement, and highly skilled operatives that lead coordinated identification and extraction efforts. These operations are always in conjunction with law enforcement throughout the world. Once victims are rescued, a comprehensive process involving justice for the perpetrators and recovery and rehabilitation for the survivors begins. It is time for private citizens and organizations to rise up and help. It is our duty as a free and blessed people.” O.U.R. runs rescues around the globe and in the U.S. In their 6 years of existence, O.U.R. has rescued 4,000 victims and assisted in the arrest of more than 2,100 traffickers. Together with partner organizations, they have collectively helped to rescue more than 10,000 survivors who were enslaved, exploited, or at risk. Here is a Facebook live broadcast on this World Day.
HOW CAN I KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR?
O.U.R. also has a simple training for those who want to learn what to look for and how to speak to a potential victim of trafficking.
The FBI has uncovered many slang terms and symbols for pedophilia, including such innocent images as butterflies, scrolled triangles, pizza for little girls and hotdogs for little boys. Many types of apparel are available in stores and online that seem cute or cool. Be careful to investigate any images or terms on your child’s apparel, in movies or cartoon they consume, and in books they read.
Panda eyes (also known as raccoon eyes) is pedophile slang for child sodomy. When a child is struck on the head repeatedly, the eyes can welt to black circles due to the forcible trauma inflicted.
Sometimes the trafficked child is not even aware that what is happening is not appropriate. I recently read a Facebook post by Melanie Cholish, survivor and advocate:
My father trafficked me from the ages of about 5 or 6 until I was a teenager. Knowing this, I can say, I was never once tied up in a dark place…It’s important for people to educate themselves on what trafficking can really look like.
Many, many times I walked into an amusement parks dressing room, Hershey, Dorney, etc. with my father, told to wait in the stall, and a few mins later another man came in acting like he was looking for his daughter. And that easily a “drop” was made. Out I would walk holding his hand, nothing anyone would think twice about. Usually I’d given something like an ice cream cone, etc. And like me, these children are often not treated “badly” I mean, yes they’re treated awful and violated beyond words, I mean they’re are not hit, tied up, beat up. Most of the time, they’re treated with fake kindness. (which really fucks up children’s trust later on in life) But they’re often praised, given treats, and made to feel like what is happening is a good (and normal or because they’re special)
How many vacations we went on where I was left for a min at the pool, until a man came and I left with him for a while. Airports where I’m passed over to another man in a crowd, looking like any girl going from her dad, uncle, to her dad or uncle. Again, a public drop and nothing suspicious.
Most children trafficked in the US are so conditioned, they don’t know anything else. It’s their normal. I think back as an adult and think, “why did I scream out for help? Make a scene” But I had to forgive my inner child, there was no reason I knew to scream out for help. I wasn’t in danger, this was just my normal life.
I say all of this to simply say, it’s really important we bring attention to child trafficking in the US. VERY important. And posters like this can get the conversation going, but we also need to educate people that it doesn’t all look like this. I lived in Robesonia, a tiny nothing town. My father was a little league coach. My mother knew and helped some with these happenings; and she was just a stay at home small town mom. These things happen everywhere and can look very normal.
Best thing we can do is talk to children, we don’t need to be graphic; but teachers, schools, need to talk to children about things like this in a child safe way. Assume these children aren’t being taken to doctors. Teachers can make a huge difference, talk to children. Go with your gut. Schools need to not be scared to act on what they feel. Conrad Wesier had a social worker in the Elementary School who pulled me out of class on more than one occasion after teachers noticed “things” and it went nowhere. Social services were never notified. And they should have been. Period.
And what you can do is watch. Pay attention. Be mindful. If you’re waiting in line at a park, notice who goes in and out with what child. If you see something; speak up. If you’re wrong, fine you ruined someone’s day, apologize. If you’re right, you saved someone’s life.
Melanie is currently writing a book on her experiences. If you would like to encourage her and keep up with the progress of the book, there is a Facebook page where you would be most welcome.
THE WORK AHEAD
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that sex trafficking of children is big business in the U.S. today. Children as young as 9 are being trafficked, with the average age being 13. This 2019 commentary by John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute lays out the challenges.
Learn the signs of child sex trafficking – and satanic ritual abuse, a twin scourge affecting countless children and a significant driver behind abductions – and tell others. Donate, volunteer your time, and be vigilant. There is much evil yet to be uncovered and much healing that needs your support.
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