“You mean like in Asia?”

This past weekend I worked my first event with Shared Hope International (SHI). As I stood at our booth talking to men and women alike, I had to explain what human trafficking was and that sex slavery was an issue in the U.S. more than I would have liked to. So many people do not understand that our young girls are being enslaved for their bodies. As I was explaining what our organization does one women asked me “You mean like the brothels in Asia. Yeah I have heard about that…” When I explained that sex slavery goes on in every state in the U.S. she didn’t believe me. “No, not here we are a first world country.” She told me. That is exactly why sex slavery is the most common form of bondage in the U.S. We are an industrial country; we do not have as large of a need for slaves in large factories, field production, mining, child soldiers…

Sex trafficking is driven by demand for commercial sex. This demand is met by criminals wishing to make more money. Demand has increased, for both women and children, as our culture has become more sexually charge. Promiscuity has become normalized. People want sex and they want it whenever they can have it. Because of this women and girls are seen as objects, as a thing to be used then forgotten about. Our founder, former Congress woman, Linda Smith was at the conference. She pointed out that as this election progresses people continue to argue that they are pro-life. Those who focus on pro-life issues, those who take a stand against abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia, forget a large population of American people who are not being helped. Those entrapped in sexual slavery have lost their voice and few are fighting for them. Our culture is against them. It says go do what you want when you want. Sex isn’t about a loving relationship between two people. It’s about gratification, about having fun, trying out as many women as you can. Prostitutes are arrested while the guys rarely get a fine and go back out and buy another woman. Linda’s goal for SHI is to change the laws around minor sex trafficking and prostitution laws. She wants everyone to take a truly pro-life stance, to lend a voice and fight for the women and girls in bondage. She calls men to stand up and become DEFENDERS, taking a stand against the commercial sex industry.

My goal, education. I want to reach as many people as I can. I want you to know about human trafficking, sex slavery, modern day slavery in general. What I am learning as I do my own research astounds me. I want you to be as surprised and shocked as me and then to become angry that our culture allows for this cold-hearted cruelness. I then want you to take a stand, to make a difference however works best for you.

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Homegrown

Go into any store and look on the back of a product to see where it was made. 9 out of 10 times the product was not made in the U.S. Our goods, clothes, toys, shoes, food, kitchen wear, are made in another country and imported here to be bought and used by us. There is one product here that is not imported. Producers have found it much easier and cheaper to produce domestically. That product is our children.

Every year 100,000 children are trafficked domestically in the U.S.[1] There are not foreign children, they do not come from Asia, Eastern Europe, or South America. They are born here on American soil. They are tricked, stolen, coerced, and taken right of the streets to be used in the commercial sex industry. When I heard about forced prostitution in the U.S I believed that women from other countries had been brought here to be used. Shows like Criminal Minds, CSI, Law and Order, all depict the victims of sex slavery as women from other countries. This may have been the case a few years ago, but today with the economy, stricter immigration laws, and the threat of terrorism, traffickers have been looking at home to find their products.

Pimps find it easier to pick up our children then have them imported. It is children, not teenagers or adult women, but children that have become their targets. The average age when a victim is picked up and forced into prostitution is between 12 and14 (U.S. Department of Justice). Pimps target vulnerable girls with low self-esteem, troubled girls, girls from foster homes, runaways, girls who have been abused, and girls with “normal, happy” lives. He gets to know the girl and eventually establishes himself as the “boyfriend,” most of the time he is much older than the girl. He becomes her savior and begins to isolate her from her family and friends. Eventually he suggests leaving and introduces prostitution. He’ll say things like “just this once,” “we need the money,” “don’t you love me?” Then he controls her. He takes and keeps track of all the money she brings in. He beats her, threatens her, yet he balances the violence with love. Pimps have created a system, even an manual that they have written for other pimps to learn how to make the perfect prostitute.[2]

In 2000 Clinton signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This was the first time that an American President had assumed a global abolition as a national burden. The TVPA called for programs to eradicate slavery, protect the victims, prosecute traffickers and pimps, and mandated that the State Department annually rank countries based on their efforts. A Tier 1 meant the country was showing progress while a Tier 3 meant not doing anything. If a country received a Tier 3 the U.S. would withhold non-humanitarian related aid. It was shocking to find that if the State Department looked at its own country, they are not required to, that the U.S. would be in a Tier 2. Buyers of sex are not being prosecuted while victims are being arrested. Right now the U.S. is not making enough of an effort to protect victims of sexual exploitation.

Why is nothing being done? Why are 100,000 children being used and abused daily? While we are in our beds at night these girls, and sometimes boys, are servicing hundreds of men, meeting quotas, suffering torture, and many times found dead on the streets in the mornings. They are children who should be in the 5th grade. Some come from good homes; have families that are looking for them. Some come from abused home with no one to look for them. Now because some guy wants to have sex with a child these girls have become ladies of the night, lot lizards, bitches, whores, sluts, hookers, and hos.

None of these girls asked to be broken, seasoned by being taught a new language, routinely gang-raped, beaten, forced to watch porn to learn the “tricks,” and manipulated psychologically. None of them asked to be educated by torture.

I am working at Shared Hope International and our goal is to prevent, prosecute Johns and traffickers, and protect victims. I am hoping to help raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking and sex slavery in our country. As I get further in my work I hopefully will learn more and be able to inform my readers. Please look at Renting Lacy by Linda Smith for an account of sex trafficking from the girls, the pimps, John’s and the law enforcement.

“The sun had dropped behind the bare mountains. The lights of Las Vegas rose to meet the night. The asphalt steamed after the 100-plus degrees of the day. The girls also rose as the evening cooled, rose with the falling of the sun and the waking of the night-their world. It didn’t matter their age, or if they wanted to go home, or what they once dreamed of. They were ladies of the night.”[3]


[1] Prostituted Children in the United States: Identifying and Responding to America’s Trafficked Youth, Seg . Prod. Shared Hope International and Onanon Productions. Washington D.C: Shared Hope International, 2008.

[2] Linda Smith , Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children, A Call to Action , (Shared Hope International; 1st edition , 2009).

[3] Linda Smith , Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children, A Call to Action , (Shared Hope International; 1st edition , 2009), 42.