child sex slavery

Ignoring Child Sex Trafficking Doesn't Make It Go Away

 

by Philipa Booyens

We had a woman recently unsubscribe to our mailing list. Her reason? She said she couldn't look at "this." She couldn't see or deal with "it."

My response: (See photo)

8day 2

8 DAYS opens with these words:

(AMBER)  Darkness breeds darkness. It hides monsters in closets and under beds. I used to think closing my eyes and covering my ears would make them go away... I used to think a lot of things.

When I was a child, I used to think such childish things. I'm not a child anymore. Child sex trafficking (what many in Homeland Security Investigation call MODERN SLAVERY) should NEVER be easy to look at. But, here's the thing: ignoring, hiding, closing eyes and covering ears will NEVER make it go away. This kind of thinking, this apathy and fear has led our culture and county to the place it is in. A place where three year old children are sold and raped repeatedly. A place where traffickers molest and move children over our southern border, requiring every girl over 10 to take a pregnancy test. Today in the United States of America children are sold by their families. Girls are locked in closets for years. People are beaten and abused, kidnapped, murdered, branded, "owned" and treated likes slaves.

Don't like it? Don't want to look it? Good. NOW DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Individually, if we bless one life, we are making a difference. Together, we can change the world. I believe that. I know that. I've seen that through this filming process. Margaret Mead once said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Let this be a call to all "thoughtful, committed citizens." It is up to us to fight the crime of child sex trafficking, Let's stop hiding and ignoring this problem that is right under our noses. Let's stop "waiting on the world to change," and make it!

 

Philipa Boooyens is the screenwriter for 8 DAYS (www.8daysfilm.org) and the Creative Director for After Eden Pictures (www.afteredenpictures.com).

Christmas JOY!

As my family and I enjoy the lovely traditions and celebrations of the Christmas season, my mind turns to people I know, or who are known by people I know:

  • The young woman in Europe who escaped her trafficker this week and is now sitting in a temporary shelter, nursing wounds from her last brutal beating, penniless and contemplating her next steps.
  • A young woman in her twenties – a US citizen- trafficked since kindergarten, for whom Christmas was just another day of degradation and fear, and who had never received a Christmas gift until last year.
  • Trafficked and brutalized women in the Middle East anxiously waiting for their name to rise to the top of a waiting list for a safe place to stay.
  • The children who sit in Mumbai brothels waiting for the next stranger to exploit them, on Christmas, as on every other day.

Do you feel any outrage at the injustices these people face? I do. They haunt my dreams. But nothing close to the outrage felt by the God who lovingly formed each one and who enters into their pain, 24/7.

We don’t have to guess what the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas would like for His birthday; He tells us what He wants: Lay off the religious stuff, and let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! * 

And as befits God’s nature, when we give to Him, we get gifts in return: 

“When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous …“*

Thankfully, I know people all over the world who experience that joy and continually give God the gifts He really wants.

  • The team members who love and serve that escaped victim in Europe as she walks through this frightening transition.
  •  The End Slavery in Tennessee supporters who gave that US survivor her very first Christmas gifts ever.
  • The volunteers who sell jewelry made by those Middle Eastern women to raise funds so more beds can be made available.
  •  A brave Indian national who risks his life daily to rescue those children in Mumbai brothels.

Want some Christmas joy? Want to give the perfect Christmas gift this year?  Be part of getting justice done. Volunteer, give, speak up, sacrifice, get your hands dirty, and don’t hide your head in the sand. Come join our band of ordinary people audacious enough to take God at His word and to do our part in letting justice roll!

I hope to see you in 2011.

Derri

*Amos 5:24, Proverbs 21:15

Learning the Lingo

Awhile back, some of us with End Slavery TN got a lesson in terminology from a survivor of sex trafficking.  We learned a lot more than words in the process; we learned a lot about the world of a victim. Read it, and weep. Then, for heaven’s sake, DO something to help.

  • Bottom, or Bottom Bitch: A person appointed by the pimp/trafficker to recruit potential victims, report violation of rules, and often to help punish.
  • Branded: A tattoo on a victim indicating ownership by a trafficker/pimp.
  • Daddy: A term a male trafficker /pimp requires his victims to call him.
  • Family or Folks: A group of victims under the control of a trafficker/pimp. The term is an attempt to recreate the family environment.
  • Gorilla Pimp: A violent trafficker/pimp
  • Lot Lizard: Derogatory term for prostituted women and children at truck stops.
  • Pimp Circle: Describes a situation where pimps circle around a victim to intimidate and discipline them, using verbal and physical threats/action, i.e.beating with wire coat hangers, defecating and urinating on victims
  • Quota: The amount of money a victim must give to their trafficker/pimp each night. If a quota is not met, the victim may be made to work until it is, or may be beaten or otherwise disciplined.
  • Seasoning: The process of breaking a victim’s spirit and gaining control over her, using rapes, beatings, manipulation and intimidation. There is actually a manual for pimps on how to season victims.
  • Stable: A group of victims under the control of a pimp.
  • Trade Up/Trade Down: The act of buying or selling a person for a pimp’s stable.
  • Turn Out: To be forced into prostitution; also a person newly involved
  • "Wifey" or Wife-in-law: A term prostituted women and children are required to call the other females in the “stable.”
  • Kiddie Track or Runaway Track - Just what it sounds like it means.  

In Her Own Words...Continued...

April:  At the special meeting in January of 2010, many abolitionists with End Slavery TN gathered to hear a devastating recounting of a sex trafficking victim’s testimony. Her story emphasized a common trafficking scenario that occurs here in the United States: young girls that grow up in physically and sexually abusive homes who are forced, coerced, and tricked into prostitution at a very young age (around 13 or 14 years old).    In this particular victim’s case, she was told the message very early on in life that no one is trustworthy, especially your family. Introduced to her first sexual encounter at age 6, she continued to be abused by the help of her own mother. At 14, she left home only to experience continual sexual abuse from other members of her family, and finally found herself working the streets of prostitution. She traveled across state borders as she battled between being trafficked and trying to flee. Hoping to seek refuge with her father, she was turned out and sold back into the life she longed to leave. Throughout her time in bondage, she experienced continual sexual and physical abuse from her pimps, including daily rapes and branding on her body.   Her story was insightful about the lifestyle victims are forced to have. Many women would live in the same house or apartment, either going out at night to work the streets or waiting for a customer in their home. They suffered daily abuse and threats from their pimp, succumbed to living in fear. They are taken from everything they know and are cut off from society, feeling alone and without hope. This victim was finally able to flee and is doing her part in helping educate people about sex trafficking. It was a special opportunity for the NFSTN staff, one that continues to spur our efforts in the fight against slavery. 

To Be Continued...

A Glimpse at Grassroots Activism: The making of “Stolen”, the song and music video

End Slavery TN abolitionists recently completed participation in a project that epitomizes the grassroots nature of our work. The fruition can be found in the song “Stolen” and accompanying music video: WARNING. POTENTIALLY DISTURBING IMAGES. NOT FOR CHILDREN. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnK5mOgYI4c&feature=player_embedded]

The process, in microcosm, looked like this:

I shared some of my Power Points, information  and the story of a local victim with a local pastor.

The pastor, Michael Reddish, talked to his congregation about Human Trafficking, and told the survivor’s story.

A musician in the audience, Brian Terry, heard the story, talked to me afterward, and bought the book “Not For Sale.”

The story inspired Brian to write the song “Stolen.” Reading the book burned the issue into his heart, inspiring determination to do whatever he could to cripple slavery.

3 Minutes to Live band members joined Brian, who is their lead singer,  in performing and recording the song. Some who heard “Stolen” encouraged the group to create an accompanying music video.

I sent word out to our network of area abolitionists and:

  • An apartment manager, Diana English, arranged for us to use one of her show apartments as a location.
  • Bill Harding, a student and colleague working with Stop Child Trafficking Now, took on the role of videographer and was able to use his school’s equipment because he made this his class project.
  • Marla Shelton, who works in the Service Learning Dept. at Volunteer State Community College, got the word out to students about volunteer needs. (Marla, and many of the students involved also heard me speak to their classes about Human Trafficking and were informed and eager for a chance to engage. )
  • These students, along with Marla and other area activists and some of Brian’s friends and family, and the band members of 3 Minutes to Live, played the parts of victims and traffickers, made signs, took out trash, created bruises and black eyes from make-up , took down and set up furniture and props and did everything else needed for this work-intensive weekend. Other team members included: Kate Harris, Jamie Burton, Tina Newman, Amber Terry, Adam Wolfe, Brittany Bertolli, Isaiah White, Jerry Martinez, Megan Mitchell,  Kiersten Joyce Butler, Leslie Zellaya, Raymond Wolfe, and Samara Williams.
  • (I don’t want to brag, but I actually had the most important role as “Official String Cheese Provider” for the cast and crew. I did make people string their own cheese. Can't do everything.)

So now we have a powerful tool for raising awareness of this heinous crime and raising funds for anti-slavery work.

But the grassroots effort is not done. Now it is YOUR turn. You determine the effectiveness of all the work done thus far.  Please send this blog or the link to www.3MTL.com to everyone you know. Or send them to our website where recipients will find the link and ways to become further informed and involved.  If you have media connections, send the video to them. Rate it on YouTube to help it get more exposure there. Post it on your social networks.

Don’t wait for “someone”  to do “something!” WE are the “someones” who can make ripples—and waves—with far reaching consequences for good. Take 5 minutes to pass this on, and be part of the grassroots movement to end slavery in our lifetime.  Thanks, team!

To Abolition!

Derri

Responding to Shaniya’s Fate

Like many of you, I can’t get Shaniya Davis out of my mind. I replay mental pictures of her sweet face, then fast forward to grim imaginations of what her last hours were like. And I weep.

Many people have expressed their own reactions to me, after hearing of this five year old being trafficked for sex- by her mother- and then murdered. I’ve heard rants and rage poured out in detailed descriptions of castration, being drawn and quartered and a special section in hell for the perpetrators. I have seen the pain and confusion on people’s faces that such a nightmare could be true and not just part of a macabre horror movie.

I understand. I burn with anger too, as I believe God does, for the injustice, the cruelty, the unbridled lust and gross misuse of power toward this vulnerable child who could not even hope to defend herself. But for the perpetrators, I feel pity. To be able to do what they did, they must have been , and still are, living in their own personal hell on earth. They have their own stories of misuse, lovelessness, addictions, and wrong choices that led them to this precipice. They are surely among the most miserable of people, having lost their very humanity. I hate the lies they believed. I hate the selfishness within each of us, including myself, that thankfully doesn’t reach this level of expression for most.

So as I weep and my heart aches mercilessly, I tell myself that this all must be channeled effectively. That something good must come from such unspeakable evil. We must bring truth and light into the dark society that teaches our citizens, from childhood, that value lies in sex appeal and that girls (and sometimes boys) are merely orifices for pleasure. We must fight all that devalues life and feeds the self-absorption that leads us to disregard the worth of another human being in the pursuit of our own desires.

And we must do all we can to cripple the travesty of human trafficking. It changes nothing to say “Oh, how horrible”, then turn away and continue with our life as usual. Or “I hope someone does something.” Or “The government needs to do more.” We must stop the kingdom building in anti-trafficking organizations where branding and media attention sometimes overshadow the mission of ending slavery, and competition for dollars keeps us from working cooperatively.

For a crime this rampant - the #2 and fastest growing in the world- it will take a movement. It will take each of us doing what we can, no matter how small. Because all our small contributions, pieced together, add up to something very large. Because nothing else has any hope of bringing change.  And because maybe, just maybe, we can keep the same fate Shaniya faced, from happening to another child.

Red Flags: A Quick Guide to Victim Identification

redflag           redflag          redflag

A few years ago my daughters treated me to my first ever manicure. When I went to the nail salon, something seemed strangely wrong, but I had no idea what. Today I do. I was served by a hostile and unskilled young Asian woman, always under the watchful eye of an older woman who did all the speaking. Looking back, I feel almost sure the young woman was a modern day slave. But at the time, I didn’t know such a thing existed, so I didn’t know how to correctly interpret the suspicious signs.

Victims of modern-day slavery may be found in legal, legitimate businesses, or in underground markets. They may be locked behind the closed doors of a brothel or factory, or in plain view. Widespread lack of awareness leads to low levels of victim identification, even by those who come in contact with them. Let’s change that! By learning the red flags for victim identification, victims will be more readily rescued and saved.

Here are some indicators which may raise a red flag that a person may be a victim of human trafficking. You may want to take a second look at situations where a person(s):

  • Appears to be under someone else's control. They appear to be under surveillance at all times. All or most contacts with family, friends, and professionals are controlled and monitored.
  • Does not manage their own money or money is largely controlled by someone else.
  • Is not in control of their own identification or travel documents.
  • Work excessive hours.
  • Is unpaid for their work or paid very little.
  • Lives with multiple people in a very cramped space.
  • Lives with their employer.
  • Has little/no English language skills or knowledge of the local community.
  • Appears to have little privacy or is rarely alone.
  • Has visible injuries or scars, such as cuts, bruises, or burns. May have injuries around the head, face, and mouth from being struck in the head or face.(Sex slaves’ scars tend to be hidden, as on the lower back)
  • Has untreated illnesses or infections. Ex: Diabetes, cancer, TB.
  • Has general poor health and/or diseases associated with unsanitary living conditions.
  • Has STDs, HIV/Aids, pelvic pain/inflammation, rectal trauma, urinary difficulties, abdominal or genital trauma
  • Uses drugs- victims are often given drugs to keep them dependent.
  • Exhibits submissive behavior or fearful behavior in the presence of others.
  • Exhibits emotional distress such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, phobias, disorientation, self-inflicted injuries or suicide attempts.
  • Engages in prostitution or lives in a brothel.
  • Is sexually exploited in strip clubs, massage parlors, pornography.
  • Is branded with a tattoo of a man’s name or “Daddy.”
  • Exhibits feelings of helplessness, shame, humiliation, shock, denial or disbelief
  • Is pregnant as a result of rape or prostitution.

Additionally, for minors, if they:

  • Talk about an older boyfriend or sex with an older man/boyfriend 
  • Use words associated with the commercial sex industry
  • Hang around commercial sex businesses like strip clubs, massage parlors, adult book/video stores
  • Have stunted growth, or poorly formed or rotting teeth

Anyone under 18 who engages in commercial sex (porn or prostitution) is legally a severe trafficking victim. Force, fraud or coercion does not need to be present as in the case of someone over 18.

If you suspect a case of human trafficking/slavery, call the national hotline number:

888-3737-888

  • It is important to talk to potential victims in a safe and confidential environment. If the victim is accompanied by someone who seems to have control over them, discretely attempt to separate the person from the individual accompanying him/her, without arousing suspicion, since this person could be the trafficker.
  • As needed, enlist the help of a professional who speaks the potential victim's language and understands his or her culture.
  • Do not collect more information than you need! In depth interviews with the potential victim should be conducted by mental health professionals, law enforcement professionals or legal experts. Multiple interviews may confuse and/or re-traumatize victims and may put you at risk of being subpoenaed as a witness.

The Perpetrators: Three Short Stories

#1 Picture a nice rural high school, surrounded by lush farm land. As is so typical  at this age, a sixteen year old girl is flattered when she is romanced by a boy at school . The boy brings the girl home to meet his mother, but instead of sitting down to a nice lunch and a chat,  the mother pops an ad up on the internet advertising the girl for sex, and drives the teen to a hotel where she is sold to 20-30 men. An anonymous tip prompts police investigation which reveals that this family team was doing the same thing with a number of other 16 and 17 year old high school girls.  This is the mother, son and daughter, who was also involved. 

#1

#2: A 18 year old girl ,who I’ll call “Mary”,  living with her older sister, is taking a class at church and is pleased  by the attention of a woman in the class. They become friends. One day after  class, her new “friend” briefly introduces Mary to two men who, unknown to her, follow the girl home. Later in the week, when she is home alone, the men come back, tell Mary to pack her bags and come with them or they will kill her sister. She is terrified and does what they demand. For the next three years, Mary is shuttled from one location to another, to keep her disoriented and without a support system. She’s sold to be raped on average of 7-8 times a day,  while the men pocket the money. To keep her compliant, they stab her with an ice pick, torture her, beat her and continued to threaten the lives of both her sister and her parents. These are the men. 

#2

# 3: Now picture a young woman, full of ambition, getting off a bus in a new city, needing a job and a place to live.  She’s been chatting with a young man who seems friendly and interested in her well-being. In the course of the conversation the young man says he knows of a friend who might be able to help her get a job. Grateful, the girl follows up on the job lead—and ends up locked in a motel room waiting for clients to arrive in response to an on-line ad the “friend” put on the internet advertising her sexual services. Thankfully, the girl was able to get the attention of a motel worker who called for help and she was rescued, along with three other not-as-fortunate girls being held by this young man and his father. These girls  had been dragged from town to town and sold for sex over a period of years. One of these girls, when rescued, was sobbing “I just want to see my mother!” This is the son in that father-son team.

#3

And this one is a customer. Without him, the perpetrators would go out of business. 

#4

All of these stories are true. But what might surprise you is to learn that all of them happened in middle Tennessee . Stories #2 and 3 took place in Nashville. The high school in the first story was in Robertson County, NW of Nashville, and the hotel was in Murfreesboro. All happened within the past year– two of them in the last few months. 

Human Trafficking and slavery is real, it's everywhere, and it's growing.  If you live in Tennessee, you WILL find it, when you look.  It happens here.   To see other victim stories, visit  slaverymap.org.

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Human Trafficking in Nashville

According to Detective Matt Dixon, traffickers in Nashville use many ploys. For example, they will pass out business cards on construction sites advertising innocuous goods and services like tamales or house cleaning. But when men call the number on the card, they are told “Well, we don’t have any tamales today. But we do have some nice young girls.” Sex slaves.

Actual cards confiscated by metro-Nashville police

Truck stops are popular spots for trafficking where prostituted children are derogatorily called “lot lizards” and sent from truck to truck to service men.

More and more, trafficking happens in surrounding rural and suburban areas and small towns.  This increasingly computer based business doesn’t need a shop with a sign out front. All traffickers have to do is put an ad on-line, and they are in business. Ordinary homes in residential neighborhoods are used because there are fewer law enforcement resources in these areas and officers are less likely to be trained in human trafficking. Neighbors are not likely to notice what is going on or, if they do, to correctly interpret the suspicious signs. It’s just not on our mental grids to think “Oh, those might be slaves next door” or “That might be a slave owner down the street.

Wide-spread lack of information leads to low levels of victim identification, even by those who come in contact with them. Yet lives can be saved by observant neighbors. I read just this week of a child held in bondage who was rescued because a neighbor noticed her working at chores from early in the morning until late at night, with no evidence of schooling. Girls held in another home were freed after a neighbor noticed mini-vans with groups of men coming to the home on a regular basis. Educating ourselves to the red flags for trafficking is an important first step for all of us. See http://endslaverytn.org/redflags/  for this list.

Nashville has all the criteria to be a trafficking hub. We’re at the intersection of three interstates. We have numerous conventions, lots of tourists and thriving businesses coming to town, as well as a large immigrant population. (Immigrants are very vulnerable to trafficking.)

To see details of a few local cases, see slaverymap.org.

COMING NEXT: Vulnerable populations