Credit: Shared Hope International
Slavery is alive and thriving in our country and we are turning our heads to it pretending not to see it. Our America with Lisa Ling
brought sex trafficking to the forefront of conversations this past weekend with an episode called “3AM Girls”. Over 100,000 girls are trafficked for sex and most of them are between the ages of 12 and 14. One thing this episode didn’t cover was the trafficking of young boys who are typically trafficked between the ages of 6 and 10. This nightmare is just as real to them. Pimps are always looking for younger children…because they draw a higher price. This isn’t about consensual sex…this is about children being forced into rape or they are beaten or simply disappear. It is all about control and rape for hire. Don’t be fooled – this is slavery.
When I attended the OYou! Conference in Atlanta, Lisa Ling was our keynote speaker. She spoke about this very topic and called on all of us to act. She wanted us to care, to stand up and call it like it is. In a culture that glorifies “pimping” anything, everyone needs to step back and be accountable for the messages we promote. When we refer to pimping a ride as making it better…or don’t turn the channel when programs portray young girls in bikinis as sex objects or even simulate sex that borders on rape or when a baby or toddler puts on a tiara…or play a video games where players beat their women – by allowing this in our culture, we are perpetuating violence against women and dehumanizing them. Lisa was articulate and straight to the point that day. She quickly re-coined the title “pimp” to a more accurate term…SLAVE OWNER.
Calling it like it is, the words hit the room hard. She was right. These girls, almost always held against their will, never earned a dime. Like a slave, they received what they needed to survive and work. They were property – branded with tattoos often with their pimp’s…oops sorry, slave owner’s name. Studies show that close to 90% of the all women being sold on the street would leave if they had a safe place to go. That is 9 out of 10 women. I can’t help but wonder if the last 10% are in a drug induced trance, courtesy of their “daddy”. An entire business of sex built on the woman NOT wanting to have it.
During the episode “3AM Girls” on Our America with Lisa Ling , Tina reflected back on how when she was being held how she witnessed a young 9 or 10 year old girl tied to a bedpost with a line of men out the door. I felt sick after hearing this for days. Let’s talk about these men for a moment – men who take girls or boys reported as young as 6 (in this episode) and sell them to anyone willing to pay. As many people would be, I am seriously sick about this. How can anyone do this to children? I am disgusted that I live in a society that knowingly allows men to rape 1st grade girls or boys. Remember the average age for boys is between 6 to 10 years old, it doesn’t mean there aren’t younger ones. I think back to my nephew and how I would drop him off for kindergarten. How could anyone hurt a child like that? But they do. How can a man rape a young girl like this? How can someone stand in line to violate a girl OR a woman as she is tied to a bed? What does this say about our men and our society if they drive around looking for victims to violate? Clearly with an array of young children, many of them are pedophiles. Whether they have ever been convicted is another story. BUT hear me….they ALL are pedophiles. So I can see where this seedy element comes to find victims that have been caught by others. It minimizes their risk of prison. Now the pimps that hand them over are even lower than the pedophiles in my opinion…and that is damn low. These men are no different than a man offering candy to get a girl into his car. They have just found what they believe to be a socially acceptable place for them to commit their crime. We as a community need to be talking about this. We need to be stopping this!
The pimp in the show that Lisa interviewed talked about how much money he made as a slave owner…I go to thinking. He said had at least 50 girls who worked for him 7 days a week making around $300 to $1500 a day per girl. By my calculations that is anywhere from almost $5.5 to over $27 MILLION dollars A YEAR. Wow…I wonder if he paid taxes on any of that. Even if a guy only had 5 girls making $300 a night, he’d pull in around $550,000 a year. What amazes me is that people are spending that much money on back alley rapes. Apparently that is the price range for one’s soul. All we need to do to solve our economic crisis is arrest these slave owners, impound their cars and take their rape money. Gather up all the pimps and then we could pay off our country’s debt AND create a bunch of community outreach programs to help these victims and prevent it from ever happening again. Economic crisis solved! I know, I am brilliant.
At the end of the episode, Ashley’s advice to other girls on the street was to walk away and “be your own power”. But many of these girls are just kids and they need us. It isn’t easy for a 12 year girl to decide to walk away from someone who had threatened to kill them if they leave. This isn’t really even a choice for them – this is slavery! What would you do if this was your child? This is no battle for a child to have to fight. They are waiting for us to show up. We all need to step up and becoming the catalyst for change. Sometimes all it takes is one good person to stand up and others will follow…let’s be those people. From now on, when we see something that isn’t right, consider it our test to be our best selves.
So…what can we do? How does the average person get involved in the attempt to remove this problem in our society? I am no expert, but there are a lot of common sense things we all can do.
- Call it like it is – a pimp is a slave owner and most johns are pedophiles.
- Turn the channel when you see programming that degrades and sexualizes women in a negative way – the message needs to stop. If we don’t watch, networks will begin to get the message. Unfortunately most of them are all about money and less about personal responsibility.
- If you see it, report it. In the United States you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s 24-hour toll-free hotline number at 1-888-373-7888. Not only can you report to this number, but it is also a great number for resources.
- Pressure your local government officials to pressure the police department into cracking down. Ask your local police department if they have any special training on this this topic.
- Watch what you buy – Don’t buy your kids the video games that send the wrong message about women or girls.
- Don’t perpetuate the “pretty woman” myth. At least 90% of these women would do anything to have a safe place to run to. Instead instill the accurate picture – men are raping women and children in the streets.
- Support legislation that moves towards ending this crisis and support women in politics. Ask your legislatures what they are doing to fight against sex trafficking. Urge the Senate to pass bills such as the “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011”.
- Learn as much as you can and then tell everyone you know about the information. Some suggest even creating an awareness kit by using information from sites that specialize in ending sex trafficking.
- Reach out to your news organizations by writing letters to the editor or informative articles and send them to local, state, and national newspapers and/or magazines.
- A Call of Change: Women’s Funding Network had a great idea – “Dial for Change: Send an action alert to your community to call the Voice Media Group’s National Advertising Office directly at 1-888-278-9866 and leave this message ‘I live in ______ and I am calling to urge you to do more to protect girls from being trafficked online and in our (local paper). Girls across our area are waiting for you to act.’”
- Donate and Volunteer with organizations that support this fight. Do what you can – $5 can make a difference. If you can’t offer money, offer them your time or your skills. Think out of the box. I am sure many organizations would love to receive help from a web or graphic designer, an accountant, an artist or teacher. Everyone has something they are good at – use it for good!
- My special reminder to Johns…this one is for you. Next time you consider heading to the “track”, every woman or girl you touch is a victim that is being held captive. What does that make you? It is no better than walking in on a gang rape and jumping in. By doing so, you become a gang raper.
Now, I think there are other things that can get done. These standard tracks don’t move. Place cameras on the buildings and make it so the world can see these men who walk up asking for these girls. Humiliation is another layer of deterrence for this crime. If the men knew they weren’t under the veil of secrecy and that the whole world would see their cars or faces…they may think twice. When they get caught (pimps or Johns)…have a special section of the newspaper where their picture goes. Let the entire community know who to be on the watch for.
Resources for Sex Trafficking can be found in our “Be Empowered” section.
Be Inspired! Share this with the world!