The Horror of Trafficking

Trafficking in persons, especially women and children for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, is a $58 billion criminal industry, surpassing the profits made by illegal arms trading ($10 billion) and approaching the profits generated from cocaine sales ($70 billion).  Virtually every nation in the world is engaged to some extent in this tragic trade, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. UNICEF estimates that one million children are forced, sold, abducted or coerced into the commercial sex trade every year.

In some countries a despicable pattern of trafficking even targets the thousands of orphan children who live in state orphanages. Exploitive traffickers (both men and women) track and follow the exact timing of when orphans come of age and are released into independent life. Knowing the orphaned young girls have nowhere to go, some traffickers have met them as they are leaving the orphanage and promise them jobs, training and better lives —some traffickers have even gone into the orphanage to conduct what look like formal “interviews” for various positions they claim are available for the children. What follows is enslavement in brothels in international cities where many girls are raped and brutalized until they are driven to submit to their new roles out of despondency.

The average age of children who are prostituted in the United States is 12-14, but FBI agents have reported that children as young a 9 years old have been rescued.  Once bought and “owned” by a pimp, some children are expected to give themselves to buyers of commercial sex acts as many as 10 times each night.  Shockingly, 30% of US teenage girls are lured to prostitution and sex trafficking within just 48 hours of being on the street.

For children rescued out of the sex trafficking syndicate, options are few.  A 2007 study by the US Department of Health and Human services found there were only 39 beds available in US shelters that have the staff capabilities and specialization to address girls coming out of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE).