Human Trafficking and the Super Bowl

Human trafficking is probably not something that many people were thinking about as they geared up to watch the Super Bowl with their beer and wings this Sunday evening.  I know that, personally, it never crossed my mind.  That’s why I was shocked to see the headlines of several articles this morning claiming that the Super Bowl, one of the biggest sporting events of the year, is “the single largest human trafficking incident in the US”, as stated by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.  With over 70,000 attendees, it shouldn’t be surprising the large number of women brought in to sleep with the many men with extra cash in their pockets, looking for a good time while away from their wives or girlfriends.  High attendance means high demand, and it also means tracking down all the people involved is much more difficult.  In 2009, around 10,000 women, including many minors, were trafficked into the Miami area for Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, according to the Florida Commission Against Human Trafficking.  But while this all somewhat makes sense, in a very disturbing way, it was still startling to me to hear about all of this.  Why is that? For such a major event, why do we not hear more about this incredibly negative aspect of it? I asked many of my friends around campus if they had ever heard anything about sex trafficking and the Super Bowl, and none of them had.  To me, this seems very, very wrong.  And I have to wonder if the people in charge don’t want this to become a hot topic since it would put an extremely negative spin on such a huge moneymaker.  But something needs to be done.  People need to be aware of the ugly consequences of such a huge event and educate themselves on this very real and serious problem.  I really hope that many people will read these articles so that next year, they will be thinking about more than just the game during the Super Bowl.

 

For more information, please read these articles about trafficking and the Super Bowl:

http://www.ibtimes.com/sex-trafficking-super-bowl-does-americas-dirtiest-secret-tarnish-nfls-biggest-event-photos-1059412

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/03/super-bowl-sex-trafficking_n_2607871.html

http://www.abpnews.com/ministry/organizations/item/8188-big-games-events-draw-traffickers#.URANLFr9mzc

Human Trafficking within the Hospitality Industry

As the topic of human trafficking garners more awareness within our global society, anti-trafficking advocates have identified many sectors of concern. However, one often overlooked is our domestic hospitality industry, notably hotels and subsequent venues, that provides secret, accessible, and affordable locations for the perpetration of both labor and sex trafficking.

Picture it 1: A young, Hispanic female promised a high-paying job in America, only to find herself working in a hotel cleaning rooms for negligible pay. With no personal connections in an unfamiliar foreign country, as well as feelings of isolation, fear of deportation, language barriers, and constant lies about the prospect of one-day seeing a paycheck, she begins to feel hopeless and complacent in her current state.

Picture it 2: A 13-year-old girl brought to a rundown motel along I-95 to meet her multiple “clients” for the day, all of which abuse, physically hurt, and rape her. The walls don’t speak, and neither do the ill-equipped motel staff and personnel, so she begins to lose her most powerful, inalienable right; freedom.

These horrifying depictions are very real within our society, and specifically, within the hospitality industry. Granted, this enterprise is not directly to blame for these human rights travesties, but the fact that human trafficking persists within this sector yields an absolute imperative for change.

The Code of Conduct, an initiative started by the Swedish Government and the international organization End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), provides training modules and resources for the hospitality industry on human trafficking and its pervasiveness within these venues. Those that adopt the code commit towards implementing six initiatives, which are:

  • to establish and ethical policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children,
  • to train the personnel in the country of origin and travel destinations,
  • to introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers, stating a common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children,
  • to provide information to travelers by means of catalogues, brochures, in-flight films, ticket-slips, home pages, etc.,
  • to provide information to local “key persons” at the destinations, and lastly,
  • to report annually.

Currently in the United States, very few organizations within this industry have signed on to The Code, albeit those that have are the Millennium Hotel St. Louis, Carlson (Radisson, Country Inns and Suites, Park Inn, Park Plaza, T.G.I. Friday’s, Carlson Wagonlit Travel), Delta Air Lines , Hilton Worldwide, Nix Conference and Meeting Management, Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, and Global Exchange Reality Tours

More needs to be done to mitigate this epidemic and protect the vulnerable individuals victimized by others. Until we elicit change, our society will remain complacent, turning their eyes away from this reality. For more information, please visit The Code’s website at http://www.thecode.org/

Stephen Bishop; CWC Anti-Human Trafficking Assistant

UNC-CH Human Trafficking Awareness Week

To increase awareness on the hidden, yet prominent, epidemic of human trafficking, the Carolina Women’s Center, Carolina Against Slavery and Trafficking, and UNC’s chapter of the International Justice Mission are dedicating a week in April (9th-12th) towards educating the student body and local community about this global travesty. Listed below are the events, times, and locations:

  • Monday, April 9th: “Visualizing Human Trafficking” 10am-2pm. There will be a large, visual chain winding throughout the Quad representing the constraint of freedom these victims encounter daily. Representatives from differing organizations (CWC, CAST, and IJM) will have information on global human trafficking, current efforts to combat this social injustice, ways to become and advocate, etc. to yield a more educated and aware population on the topic of human trafficking.
  •  Tuesday, April 10th: Screening of “Stella’s Story” 7pm-8pm. Nelson Mandela Auditorium; UNC Global Edu Center. Join us as we sponsor a narrative documentary about young women in the country of Moldova who grew up as orphans at risk of becoming human trafficking victims. Made and produced by Amanda Newton, a senior at UNC Chapel Hill.
  • Wednesday, April 11th: “Human Trafficking 101 Teach-in” 3pm-4:30pm. Anne Queen Lounge in the Campus Y, UNC’s campus. Come join us as we dedicate time to educate ourselves and others on what the term “human trafficking” means, its domestic and international prevalence, current efforts to eradicate it, and how you can become and advocate. Educational presentation from 3pm-4pm with a 30 min Q&A session on issues of human trafficking with panel of local experts from 4pm-4:30pm.
  • Thursday, April 12th: “Just Music” 9:30pm-11:30pm.  Mrs. D’s House at 206 Cameron Avenue, Chapel Hill, NC. Join us for a concert with local musicians as we fund-raise for the International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression worldwide. Admission is free (although donations are encouraged), and a delicious array of donated food and drink from local vendors will be offered.

If you have any questions regarding the details of these events, please do not hesitate to contact Stephen Bishop at sabishop91@gmail.com or Chelsea Banister at chelsea.banister@gmail.com. We hope you’ll consider attending and assist us in combatting this societal injustice.

As a male anti-human trafficking assistant under the Carolina Women’s Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I am constantly approached by fellow peers who ask why I chose to align myself with an organization that has no personal relation to myself or my subsequent identities. Why human trafficking? Why focus on gender equity? Why focus on topics that are “not your issue?” Why, why, why…

To preface, here’s some brief trafficking statistics:

  • An estimated 2.5-27 million enslaved victims persist worldwide.
  • Victims are recruited from 127 countries and exploited in 137.
  • Human trafficking is the fastest growing lucrative industry in our global society, accruing billions of dollars annually.
  • Approximately 15,000-17,000 victims are trafficked into the United States each year, which is not accounting for those individuals trafficked within domestic borders.
  • For every 800 people trafficked, only 1 perpetrator was convicted.
  • 52%-58% of trafficking perpetrators are men.
  • Though women and children are the main targets for victimization, an exponential increase (often overlooked) in trafficking of men has been seen.

All of a sudden, those silly little “why” questions became far easier to answer.

With males being the dominate perpetrators of human trafficking travesties, as well as an increase in boy and male victims seen both domestically and across international cultures, the role of men in human trafficking mitigation efforts is clearly shown. However, our (men’s) veil of ignorance rendered from a lack of understanding and knowledge assures male complacency. Moreover, the lack of male involvement yields countless issues that further exacerbate this global epidemic, which is counterintuitive towards the end goal of complete eradication.

The Renaissance Male Project released a report on 10 Things Men & Boys Can Do to Stop Human Trafficking, which divulges into our glamorization of pimp culture, the increasing popularity of strip clubs and pornography, misogyny, sexism, the “harmless” and “victimless” effects of prostitution, and more. The efforts to abolish modern day slavery, analogous to other social justice initiatives/movements, rely heavily upon a diverse group of identities, including those that may not directly relate to the cause. The promotion of freedom, prosperity, social equity, and basic human rights is not a gender issue, but rather a human issue.

Stephen Bishop

CWC Anti-Human Trafficking Assistant

 

*Statistics found from the following sites/organizations: CAST-LA, The Polaris Project, and the UNODC Trafficking in Persons report.

LGBTQ Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking, or the use of coercion, fraud, or deception to force individuals into the commercial sex industry, has remained a global epidemic within both domestic and international borders. Predators utilize the vulnerability of their victims, many times preying upon homeless youth, individuals of low socioeconomic status, emotionally unstable or damaged adolescents, etc. This susceptibility, and subsequently the damaging societal views of particular identities, exacerbates this travesty, notably within the LGBTQ community.

The American Center for Progress conservatively estimates the number of homeless gay and transgendered youth within the United States, ranging from 320,000-400,000 annually. Moreover, this report signifies the disproportioned vulnerability of this demographic rendered from intolerant guardians, unstable friend/family relationships, and a lack of societal acceptance and understanding surrounding the topics of homosexuality and gender nonconformity. These damaging ideals lessen the feeling of self-worth within the psyches of LGBTQ individuals, making them easy targets for sex trafficking and other forms of deception/coercion. It is all too common for us, the United States, to believe the fallacy that “human trafficking is not a domestic issue,” which provides an unfortunate justification for complacency within our society.

From an international view, the Arab Gulf serves as a prime example of how certain policies within a geographic region can further complicate sex trafficking mitigation efforts. Members of the gay and bisexual male population in Kenya are being lured into sex rings within the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Many are deceived into this trade by false notions of job opportunities, seen favorable by Kenyans due to an exponential increase in unemployment rates. Many countries in the Arab Gulf are completely devoid of anti-trafficking initiatives and also continue to criminalize homosexuality. These crucial factors allow this systematic market to persist, while also providing little means of escape from this trade.

The aforementioned examples of both domestic and international systematic complications signify how LGBTQ individuals are prone to trafficking victimization, punctuating the need for a holistic intervention to decrease the prevalence of global sex trafficking.  A push towards progressive societal views pertaining to LGBTQ populations, policies that elicit acceptance and support for all identities, stark law enforcement efforts to eradicate this epidemic, and increased support for programs that aid victims of this deplorable “market” are a few of the many needed parameters within the anti-trafficking movement. In light of Ally week here at UNC, we can do our part, whether small or large, to diminish this corruption brought forth from social injustices by becoming an ally to the LGBTQ community.

 

This post was written to honor the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Ally Week 2012 sponsored by the LGBTQ Center.

 

Stephen Bishop

Junior; Public Policy

CWC Anti-Human Trafficking Assistant

sabishop91@gmail.com

 

The Protection Project Conference

I was honored to be invited to present a paper at The Protection Project’s Sixth Annual Symposium on Trafficking in Persons on November 7, 2011.  The theme this year was “The Five Elements of Civil Society: A New Approach to Participation in Combating Trafficking in Persons.”  The conference explored the role of multiple sectors in ending trafficking in persons:  Business, the Private Sector, Religious Institutions, Academic Institutions, and NGOs and the Media.  Also presenting at the conference was my colleague, Dr. Shana Judge ’11, now a postdoctoral scholar at Brown University.

The keynote address was given by Ms. Beathe-Jeanette Lunde, the Executive Vice President for Responsible Business and Human Resources at Carlson Companies.  Carlson has been on the cutting edge of anti-human trafficking work in the hospitality, travel and tourism industries.  They were a very early adopter of the Code of Conduct, making a strong commitment to work to eradicate child sexual exploitation throughout their operations.  Carlson requires 3.5 hours of comprehensive responsible business training of all their employees, which includes training to identify and properly address potential human trafficking situations.  The training employs scenarios specific to the hospitality industries; employees are asked in these situations, “What is your responsibility?”  I have been very fortunate that Carlson has been willing to share some of their training materials with me as we work to educate our local hospitality industries with the assistance of Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.

There was quite a bit of discussion throughout the day of fair trade issues as well as issues of supply chain transparency.  HR2759, the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act, was introduced in the US House  in August 2011, by Representative Carolyn Maloney.  This legislation would require companies to provide information in their annual reports to the SEC about the efforts they’ve taken to end trafficking and to improve supply chain transparency.  Dr. Elizabeth Goldberg discussed her work with Made By Survivors and noted that consumer education is vital in encouraging corporations to operationalize fair business practices.

Dr. Yvonne Zimmerman gave an fabulously thoughtful and incisive presentation on challenges for faith-based institutions and groups working on human trafficking.  She acknowledged the important role these institutions play but noted that the actions of groups that rely on moral certitude at the expense of rigorous critical thought are often problematic.  Zimmerman argues that when membership in a group is substituted for professional competence and best practices, victim-survivors suffer.  We must insure that religious coercion (even when subtle) is not part of what human trafficking victim-survivors have to endure in obtaining services and support.  For me, Zimmerman’s presentation really crystalized why we have such difficulty working with some faith-based groups and why our relationships with others are so much more productive – including our allies and colleagues at the Salvation Army in Raleigh and World Relief.   Zimmerman and Claude d’Estrée at the Human Trafficking Clinic at Denver University are developing a Code of Conduct to guide and assist religious institutions and faith-based communities in their work with victim-survivors.

There were many insightful and informative presentations during this one-day conference.  Dr. Judge shared her research on the correlates of federal sex trafficking cases and the effect of federal legislation in prosecuting traffickers.  I discussed my continuing project on the impact of representations of human trafficking in literary texts.  Both were quite well-received and Shana and I talked to a number of folks at the end of the conference about our work.

Each time I’m in a setting such as the Protection Project’s conference, I realize how many talented and committed colleagues are with me as we work to catalyze rigorous research on human trafficking, build an infrastructure to provide evidence-based services and support to survivors, assist law enforcement in their efforts to identify and address human trafficking cases, and educate our colleagues and communities about human trafficking.  It was a wonderfully enriching, affirming and informative day.

Cargo: Innocence Lost

By Christie Arnold

On Monday, October 24, the Carolina Women’s Center hosted a fundraising and human trafficking awareness event at The Arts Center in Carrboro. This was the kick-off night for 1000 Cranes Week, which highlighted several social justice issues through daily events to raise funds for local nonprofits. Naomi Takeuchi, president of 1000 Cranes and a member of the CWC’s Advisory Board hosted this event on behalf of the Center and expressed her passion for advocating for victims of human trafficking.

The event began with a welcome address by state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, who has been at the forefront of legislative efforts to prevent and end human trafficking in the state. She informed the audience that North Carolina both facilitates and is a destination for human trafficking because of its many major interstate and highway systems. She discussed the increasing cases of human trafficking in North Carolina, as well as the state’s recent efforts to combat it. Senator Kinnaird’s past efforts include sponsoring and helping to pass legislation that made human trafficking a criminal offense in North Carolina, as well as a bill that created protections for North Carolina human trafficking victims. She then commended the Carolina Women’s Center for its crucial work in advocating and providing tools for law enforcement trainings on human trafficking. With mandatory trainings on how to recognize human trafficking situations and identify potential victims, law enforcement officials will be much better equipped to rescue victims and arrest perpetrators.

The main focus of the evening was a screening of the documentary Cargo: Innocent Lost. This compelling film gives viewers a rare glimpse into this underground world of sex trafficking, a 9 billion dollar a year industry. Cargo portrays a variety of situations involving foreign and domestic victims of sex trafficking into and within the United States. Each year, up to 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S.[1], and an estimated 70% of these women and children are enslaved in the commercial sex industry.[2]

The film shows how foreign victims enter the country through both legal and illegal means, often seeking employment or education to improve their lives. Interviews with two foreign-born teenage girls who were trafficked from Mexico into Texas show how traffickers prey upon vulnerability. Lured from their impoverished homes by false promises of love and a better life, they were victimized and exploited in brothels upon arrival in the U.S. After escaping from their captivity, they were rescued and now are recovering with the help of community services and counseling programs.

Another narrative detailed the fictional story of a young teenage girl from Eastern Europe who was tricked into traveling to the U.S. with a fake study abroad program. Traffickers coordinated her travel into the country, and then forced her into prostitution once she arrived in San Francisco. This story happens far more often than most Americans realize, because after victims arrive, they become largely invisible inside the sex trade.

As human trafficking experts, government officials and victims’ advocates in the film provided information about the scope of sex trafficking in our country and the things that are being done through federal legislation to address this crime, it was made clear that awareness is vital to ending these horrific human rights abuses. The creation of this powerful film is one way that awareness is being raised throughout the country, and the event put on by the CWC was successful in that it brought these issues to the attention of members of the Triangle community.

Community members who viewed the film were able to have their question answered by Dr. Donna Bickford, director of the Women’s Center. She described North Carolina’s “pull” factors for human trafficking, such as its location on the coast, tourism and agricultural industries, demand for cheap labor and high immigrant populations and pronounced commercial sex venues nearby the state’s many military bases. Dr. Bickford also discussed the many ways an individual can get involved in the fight to end human trafficking, such as education, awareness, and political advocacy.

To learn more about how to oppose human trafficking, see this educational flyer created by the Carolina Women’s Center.


[1] U. S. Department of State, Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report, July 2004.

[2] U.S. Department of State, 2005. http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/07/HumanTrafficking/LitRev/

Christie Arnold is a UNC senior and international studies major. She is a human trafficking intern at the Carolina Women’s Center.

Sex & Money national film screening tour comes to UNC

I was so pleased by the great turnout at CAST’s Sex & Money screening last night.  We were proud to be cosponsors and I was honored to be asked to serve on the post-screening discussion panel.

The film is a 93-minute documentary on domestic minor sex trafficking.  The filmmaking team talked to many of the nation’s experts on human trafficking, including some of my favorite allies – Bradley Myles from Polaris Project, Dorchen Leidholdt from the Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services at Sanctuary for Families, Melissa Farley of Prostitution Research & Education.  Others I know because of their work, such as Siddarth Kara and Benjamin Skinner (both of whom I’ve seen speak) and Mary Ann Layden (a colleague of our good friend Dr. Linnea Smith).  And the film includes conversation with my hero Lou CdeBaca, head of the federal Trafficking in Persons office, and someone who really gets the multiple and complex challenges of addressing human trafficking.

The film is extremely informative and well done.  In addition to accurate and robust coverage of the subject, we get to see some of the experiences of the filmmakers and their process of making sense of what they’re learning – and even a few welcome moments of humor.  I admit to being a little turned off at the choice to begin the film with one of the filmmakers on the brink of tears – kind of an odd decision.  But that was one “off” moment in what is otherwise an excellent production.

In addition to commentary and analysis by experts, Sex & Money includes interviews with survivors of sex trafficking, former pimps, former buyers, law enforcement, and service providers; there are also segments filming prostitution arrests.  And, there is some coverage of the volatile protest outside Craigslist’s headquarters during the advocacy to remove erotic services from their on-line postings.  Streetlight in Phoenix was highlighted as a promising practice provider.

The film addresses head-on the issue of the “choice” to prostitute.  The connections between, or conflation of, prostitution and human trafficking have created large fissures in the anti-human trafficking movement.  Some consider that consensual prostitution is possible and see no problem with consenting adults agreeing to a paid sexual encounter.  Others feel that prostitution is inherently degrading and exploitative and that the idea one could “choose” to prostitute is meaningless if there are no other viable and sustainable choices one could make.  However, there is no need even to discuss the possibility of choice when we are talking about minor victims.  The federal law (and most state laws, including North Carolina’s) removes the need to prove force, fraud or coercion in a situation where minors are involved.  The law considers it impossible for minors to consent to a commercial sex act; thus, any minor involved in any kind of commercial sexual activity is a victim of sex trafficking and should be identified and treated accordingly.

The film addresses the incorrect (in my view) perception that legalizing prostitution is a useful option.  As Leidholdt so eloquently noted, legalizing prostitution turns pimps and traffickers into legitimate business people and makes invisible the harm and violence done to trafficked and prostituted people.  Additionally, the countries and regions that have legalized prostitution have seen an increase in prostitution and human trafficking.

The film discusses the Swedish approach, which many of us see as a potential best practice.  Leidholdt and Farley both find this model to have great potential.  As many of you know, the model criminalizes the buyer, decriminalizes the “seller,” and offers necessary services to people engaged in commercial sexual activity.  The evidence suggests that this has reduced both prostitution and human trafficking in Sweden, although advocates acknowledge that many traffickers have simply moved their business to other countries that are more hospitable; others question the validity of the claim of success, arguing that rather than reducing prostitution, it has been driven underground.  This debate came up in the Q&A after the screening when an audience member asked why we don’t adopt that model in the US.  I replied that I think it is a very promising approach and that many advocates are working to move us in that direction.  However, the model is predicated on an understanding that commercial sexual activity is a human rights violation and antithetical to gender equity.  That is not an understanding that is commonly shared across the United States.

There were several chilling moments in the film, including an interview with a former pimp, who noted that “anyone can control a woman’s body, but it takes a pimp to control her mind.”  This man, and other commentators, discussed the highly systematic process of grooming and controlling prostituted women and girls.  Other interviewees discussed the valorization of “pimp culture” as a very problematic aspect of our society which discourages people from seeing the harm that prostitution does to those enmeshed within it and to our communities.

The film is on a national tour, and UNC-Chapel Hill was only one of two sites in the state to host a screening.  Thanks to the CAST co-chairs Caitlin Dixon and Stephen Bishop and other CAST members who planned and managed this event.  Thanks to UNC alum Otilia Enica, who started the process last year in her final semester as CAST co-chair.  Thanks to Christie Arnold and Elyse Elder who staffed the Carolina Women’s Center table at the event.  And, a special thanks to our co-panelists – Dave Dawson and Jack Moore from the FBI and Andrew Castle from World Relief.  Earlier yesterday afternoon, Dave also presented a wonderfully comprehensive training at UNC Health Care for our local SANEs and other health care and service providers.

If you’d like to learn more about human trafficking in general, or anti-human trafficking work in North Carolina, please visit humantrafficking.unc.edu.

 

Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

By Christie Arnold

I recently watched a documentary about the trafficking of women and girls around the world for commercial sexual exploitation into forced prostitution. This film, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, caused me to question the disconnect that our society makes between prostitution and sex trafficking. Although many people cry out against the enslavement of women in sex trafficking, there is often a failure to recognize that an existing structure of exploitation, which includes tolerated prostitution within the sex industry, is enabling and facilitating the crime of sex trafficking.

Many anti-trafficking and women’s rights advocates view prostitution as an inherently exploitative form of violence against women.[1] By its very existence, the sex industry is promoting the idea that women are commodities. This line of thinking extends to human traffickers who participate in the sex industry by targeting vulnerable women and girls and forcing them into sexual slavery. The UN estimates that up to 4 million women and children are trafficked into the global sex trade each year.[2] The key point: the prostitution in the commercial sex industry itself contributes to the trafficking of women into the sex industry. This illegal trade of women’s bodies exists because (primarily) men believe they are entitled to buy (primarily) women and girls. To meet this demand, women are trafficked into existing structures of commercialized prostitution. As the demand for commercial sex thrives and continually increases, traffickers find ways to increase supply into the commercial sex industry through force, fraud and coercion.

In the United States, elements of the sex industry, such as pornography, strip clubs, escort services and massage parlors, exist mostly uninhibited in cities and towns across the nation. The prostitution that accompanies these entertainment venues is seen as a victimless crime, and so is rarely restricted and often tolerated. Men who are caught soliciting sex from prostitutes, whether in the back room of a strip club or on the streets, are rarely arrested. Through this system, our culture seems to imply that it is natural or acceptable to pay for sex and, therefore, that it is tolerable for men to purchase a woman for sex. Many men believe that it is their right to do this, and our culture supports this thinking by allowing them to do so with few, if any, consequences. Thus, a market for the sale of commercial sex, an avenue for women to be bought and sold as sexual objects, has been created in the United States. And each year, hundreds of thousands of women and children from other nations are trafficked into the U.S. sex trade, into venues of prostitution, pornography and/or stripping.[3]

From this film, I learned that is critical for our society to recognize the links between prostitution and sex trafficking so we can begin to take a stand against the human rights violations that occur in the commercial sex industry. Both prostitution and sex trafficking are violence against women and are severe detriments to gender equality.

Melissa Farley, a clinical psychologist and advocate for women’s rights, stated in Nefarious that a society can never be truly equal when half of its population is being sexually exploited. This speaks to the harms created when prostitution is allowed or tolerated by a culture. To prevent this exploitation, it is important to speak out against the commercial sex industry and against the underlying beliefs that enable it. For sex trafficking to be eradicated, prostitution must also end. A change in the way our society views commercial sex is needed for the demand that drives both prostitution and sex trafficking to decrease. As more and more people begin to understand the connections between prostitution and sex trafficking, they will be better able to advocate for women’s rights and equality, and to aid in the movement to end commercial sexual exploitation.


[1] O’Connor, Maria. Healy, Grainne. The Links Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: A Briefing Handbook. 2006. <http://ewl.horus.be/SiteResources/data/MediaArchive/Violence%20Centre/News/handbook.pdf>.

[2] United States Department of State. 2002. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act 2002: Trafficking in Persons Report. Washington, D.C.: Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, United States Department of State; and Arlacchi, Pino. 2000. “Against All the Godfathers: The Revolt of the Decent People.” The World Against Crime, Special Issue of the Giornale di Sicilia: 7

[3] U.S. Department of State, Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report, July 2004. 23.<http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/34158.pdf>.

Christie Arnold is a UNC senior and international studies major. She is a human trafficking intern at the Carolina Women’s Center.

Stopping Child Trafficking Now: How You Can Get Involved In Ending Child Sex Slavery

By Christie Arnold

When most Americans think of human trafficking, few consider the possibility that it is a problem in their own country. Although human trafficking is a global epidemic, it has far-reaching effects that hit home. Each year in the United States, an estimated 100,000 American children are forced into prostitution and pornography, and thousands more are trafficked into the country for commercial exploitation.

Child trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world. It is one of the most common types of trafficking, as up to 50 percent of modern-day slaves are children. There are an estimated 2.5 million children trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor each year, according to UNICEF. Children are often most vulnerable to the schemes and tactics used by traffickers to coerce or force them into slavery.

Although trafficking of adults for commercial sexual exploitation requires force, fraud or coercion, none of these elements need to be present when minors are involved.  Trafficking children into the commercial sex industry, which entails prostitution, pornography and/or stripping, is driven by demand. The men who participate in the commercial sex industry are demanding a specific type of product. As men seek out commercial sex with younger and younger girls, often to recreate pedophilic fantasies encouraged by child pornography or because of their belief that such practices decrease the possibility of acquiring sexually-transmitted diseases, traffickers in organized crime, gangs, and loosely organized networks have answered their demands. In this crime, where the economic principles of supply and demand reign, the products being supplied are increasingly adolescent girls. In the U.S., the average age of entry into prostitution is approximately 12. Children have become sexual commodities to be bought and sold right here in our own backyards as thousands of U.S. men are seeking out and purchasing sex with children across the nation.

The forced prostitution of girls is a hidden crime in our country. Pimps and traffickers seek out vulnerable children and force or lure them into situations they cannot escape from. Traffickers target girls from broken homes with histories of physical and sexual abuse, foster children, runaways, girls with low self-esteem, and other vulnerable groups. Often they first pretend to be a girl’s boyfriend or protector, and then introduce her to the life of prostitution. Many traffickers psychologically manipulate girls with promises of protection and affection, and use physical violence and threats in order to enslave their victims.

Although steps have been taken to rescue victims and raise awareness at the national, state and local levels of government, the demand side of the equation has barely been addressed. Little is being done to stop the demand for commercial sex with children, even though it is driving the entire child sex trafficking industry.

One U.S. organization called Stop Child Trafficking Now has a goal that is urgently needed at higher levels of anti-trafficking work: to stop the demand. Their goal is to put the predators, the pimps and the people buying sex with children behind bars to stop the demand.

SCTNow hosts awareness events throughout the U.S. that raise funds to end child sex slavery. The Nation-wide Walk Campaign brings together communities to participate in their Stop Child Trafficking Now Walks, which raise funds that benefit SCTNow’s investigative teams and partner organizations. Each 5K walk is free and open to the public so that community members can come together to show their support for this work and raise awareness about child sex trafficking.

This year, there are walks in 33 cities across the country, including 3 walks in North Carolina. The walks are great opportunities to fight against these injustices by raising awareness and helping fund the work of SCTNow. To eliminate these horrible crimes, the demand for children for commercial sexual activity must end. If you are looking for a way to get involved in preventing child sex trafficking, consider joining your community members for an SCTNow walk!

Information about the Chapel Hill walk on September 24, 2011: http://events.sctnow.org/site/TR?fr_id=1098&pg=entry and http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=166023846811577 .

Information about the Raleigh walk on September 25, 2011: http://events.sctnow.org/site/TR?fr_id=1111&pg=entry

Information about the Fayetteville walk on October 2, 2011: http://events.sctnow.org/site/TR?fr_id=1081&pg=entry

Christie Arnold is a UNC senior and international studies major. She is a human trafficking intern at the Carolina Women’s Center.