Human Trafficking and Street Children
My husband and I have been to the beautiful country of Ukraine twice. The first time, I won a trip with International Cooperating Ministries, and the second time, we went with Doxa Kids Street Children’s Ministry. Doxa Kids helps at-risk children in Ukraine and Kenya, with plans to expand to other countries. The goal of this organization is to provide these children and teens with a shelter—a safe place to stay. If they children aren’t living on the streets—in sewer tunnels and dumps, they won’t be as lucrative of a target for traffickers.
Ukraine, along with Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, China, Thailand, and Nigeria, is one of the high-risk source nations for trafficking. High-risk destination countries include Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and the United States.
After learning a little about street kids and human trafficking, I decided to write a novel based on human trafficking. I’m currently in the plotting stage and have been doing extensive research into this modern-day slave trade.
Victims are often recruited by other victims or even someone they trust in their own communities. The trafficker lures with promises of a better life, a modeling career, job opportunities, and in some cases, the victim is kidnapped. When the trafficker recruits slaves for other countries, they often use forged passports for the victim. If a real passport is used, the trafficker then keeps the victim’s passport and identification.
The trafficker holds victims hostage by physical and emotional abuse. Often he tells the victim they entered the country illegally and will go to prison if they leave him. Most, whether sold into the sex trade or not, are raped, gang-raped, starved, and beaten as part of the conditioning process.
Approximately 80% of trafficking is for the sex industry which contributes to the spread of HIV. Eighty percent of sexual slavery victims are under twenty-four with some as young as six. Often they are working in the streets or in places of business that offer commercial sex acts –massage parlors, escort services, adult bookstores, modeling studios, bars/strip clubs.
Often times the traffickers advertise via the internet. One teenage US victim indicated her captor held her in an apartment and men came to her by the droves. They moved often in order to not capture the attention of law enforcement.
There are currently more slaves in the world today than ever before in history. These slaves are men, women, and children around the world. Most are branded with tattoos representing their owners. Many have bar-code tattoos that can be scanned with a smart phone so the person may be returned to their “owners”. While sex trafficking, prostitution, exotic dancing, is the by far the most common, humans are trafficked for forced labor – street peddling, housekeeping, child care, construction, restaurants, factories and landscaping, etc.
Our most vulnerable population around the world, children, are trafficked into the sex industry and as child soldiers. According UNICEF estimates there are 300,000 child victims forced to serve in armed conflicts world-wide. Also, UNICEF estimates over the past thirty years there have been over thirty million children sexually exploited through trafficking.
While modern-day slavery is a pervasive, it largely remains a hidden crime. However there are many groups and organizations dedicated to helping victims and ending slavery. The first step in ending this horrendous crime begins with education and awareness.
11 Facts About Human Trafficking; ND http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-human-trafficking
55 Little Known Facts About Human Trafficking; January 2, 2011; http://facts.randomhistory.com/human-trafficking-facts.html
Human Trafficking: An Intelligence Report; June 2006 http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2006/june/humantrafficking_061206
Human Trafficking: The Facts; ND; UNICEF; http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/labour/Forced_labour/HUMAN_TRAFFICKING_-_THE_FACTS_-_final.pdf
What Is Modern Slavery?; ND; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/what/index.htm
What is Human Trafficking?; August 16, 2012; http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/about-human-trafficking#overview
INK 180; ND; http://ink180.com/the-ink180-story/
Human Sex Trafficking; ND; By Amanda Walker-Rodriguez and Rodney Hill; http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/march_2011/human_sex_trafficking