Teen sex slaves are being trafficked by a variety of perpetrators, including family members, boyfriends, peer recruiters, and organized criminals and gangs, say authorities, and there are people looking for young teen recruits at parties or school, just to exploit for profit.
Secretary of State John Kerry is quoted in the current Trafficking in Persons 2016 report.
“[W]e should be asking ourselves—what if that victim of trafficking was my daughter, son, sister, or brother?”
It has been estimated that there are about 45.8 million human slaves in the world today, per the number put forth by a CNN article, and a quote from the Walk Free Foundation is also included.
“Slavery is not a thing of the past, and we must stop thinking that it is. The very nature of modern slavery means it is clandestine and hidden from view, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t everywhere. Every country in the world is affected.”
Because teen sex slaves, those under the age of 18 years, cannot legally consent to sexual activity, according to the San Diego County District Attorney‘s office, profit-driven criminals usually exploit the underaged minor using coercion or deceit. The victims then feel forced into acts of “commercial sexual activity, prostitution, exotic dancing, or pornography.”
But well-meaning lawmakers are at odds with how to handle the issues, as seen from this tweet and the link to an L.A. Times report on an effort to decriminalize prostitution for minors. Supporters of the legislation say they just want to connect teens to social services, but critics argue it would actually prevent law enforcement from helping the victimized teens and vulnerable children.
— Rescue Houston (@RescueHouston) August 27, 2016
Many teen sex slaves cannot see themselves as being victims. Especially vulnerable may be those who are running away from terrible homes or guardians, and those who see their traffickers, who may be family or peers, through very complicated emotions.
Not all become teen sex slaves, of course, but many are held against their will by others or coerced into other acts. Another recent story/tweet may underscore the problem. This first one is regarding a teen spending years in slavery.
— New Delhi Times (@NewDelhiTimesIN) September 19, 2016
The teen in this story was taken at age 9 and forced to work in different cities in India. For seven years he was held captive by his abductors. Suddenly, the appearance of a child rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi, at the shelter where Aman lived allowed the truth to emerge at last.
And another recent tweet/report, which may be one to give readers some pause.
“Modern-day slavery”: In $66 million legal claim, teen accuses Oakland cops of using her for sexhttps://t.co/k6sYAm0rNo
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 21, 2016
“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where perpetrators profit from the sexual exploitation and/or forced labor of men, women and children,” according to Bonnie Dumais and the District Attorney’s office in San Diego County. “It is a violation of basic human rights, and it is also a crime as defined by U.S. federal law and California state law.”
On a more positive note, a California teen, Mark Tenney, led a charity bike ride down the Pacific Coast to raise funds for Operation Underground Railroad, which is a nonprofit group looking to rescue victims of human trafficking around the world. The founder, Tim Ballard, was quoted in the story.
“It truly is an American problem. We are driving the market on this whole dark, dark business.”
Ballard, described as being a former CIA and Department of Homeland Security operative, also said that it is Western travelers and child pornographers who are “the primary consumers of the hidden sex trade.”
A San Diego YouTube video presenting Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan, along with other guests, was uploaded to discuss human trafficking, public safety, and culture.
Additional information on teen sex slave exploitation, including victims and trafficker issues, can be found at Polaris Project.
For information released which finds that there is “… a strong correlation between victimization, homelessness and foster care,” see a final report submitted to the United States Department of Justice Office, which is titled “The Nature and Extent of Gang Involvement in Sex Trafficking in San Diego County.”
[Featured Image by Kim Johnson Flodin/AP Images]