Horrifying human trafficking statistics prompted U.S. Senator Bob Corker to launch a global campaign to combat slavery and the sex trade, reported the Tennessean. His efforts are spearheaded by the Chattanooga Republican’s End Modern Slavery Act, a bipartisan effort he’s sponsoring in conjunction with Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
Corker’s interest in curbing the growing human trafficking statistics began after a visit to Manila during the fall of 2014, where he met with a number of women and heard their horrifying stories. One 15-year-old girl fell prey to a man’s promise to take her on a day trip to the big city, while another wanted to be a singer and fell for a man’s story that he had connections with the entertainment industry.
“There was story after story,” Corker recalled after spending time with 20 women who had been freed from a life of sexual slavery, which often caters to American so-called “sex tourists” who seek out countries where human trafficking and prostitution is rampant.
Still, one needn’t leave the good old USA in order to uncover a vast underground world of human trafficking and prostitution. According to WBIR.com, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Friday that it had arrested 32 people in a Knoxville human trafficking ring.
“Two of the men, including a children’s minister, arrested in ‘Operation Someone Like Me,’ responded to ads for what they thought were girls under the age of 18.”
Jason Kennedy, age 46, was arrested for patronizing prostitution and human trafficking, according to reports. He previously served as a minister at Grace Baptist Church in Karns and was immediately fired after the charges were revealed. One other man, who serves as a volunteer and creative pastor at Lifehouse Church in Oak Ridge, was also arrested with human trafficking, while the 30 other people arrested were charged with patronizing prostitution and their backgrounds included an engineer and a volunteer firefighter.
Throughout the 3-day operation, undercover TBI agents posted ads on Backpage.com, a well-known site for bolstering prostitution statistics in what authorities call a “demand-driven crime,” TBI Director Mark Gwyn said Friday.
“We consider these young ladies as victims,” Gwyn told WBIR. “We want to get them the help that they need so they can be a productive citizen here in Knoxville one day or wherever they may choose to live.”
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch worked with Karen Trudell of the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking. At a news conference Friday, Rausch called people who would pay for sex “sick” and expressed gratitude for the help from the TBI in conducting the sting.
According to Trudell, aftercare for victims of prostitution and human trafficking is “very important” to change the statistics and the women caught up in the recent sting were offered services provided by several nonprofits, including housing, counseling and treatment for addiction.
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“In order to truly put an end to human trafficking in our community, we must eradicate the demand,” Trudell shared. “This crime is grossly protected by stereotypes that tell us it happens to certain people in certain places, and many of us like to believe that those people and those places are not here.”
Top Ways To Identify Human Trafficking:
- Outward signs of physical abuse on a person’s body.
- A person who is obviously drugged and out of it.
- Transients who appear to be controlled by others.
- Women and men frequenting truck stops.
- Someone is watching a person’s every move.
- A person being unable to move about freely.
- Lack of eye contact when asked direct questions about her/his situation.
[Photo via Shutterstock / Copyright: Namning]