Sex trafficking of children and women America’s fastest growing crime

April 4, 2021 0 Comments

In any month, several news items appear announcing one more sentence in the sex trafficking of a child. The thousands of “unsolved” cases involving America’s fastest growing crime, human trafficking, are not reported as often. Task forces like Operation Guardian Angel, a unique undercover police investigation targeting the lawsuit of child prostitutes, helps bring many to justice.

Too many cases

Some all too common examples from recent stories:

  • A young woman was smuggled from Mexico to New York only to become a sex slave and a prisoner, forced into prostitution with up to fifteen clients a day. When her own son died because his captors refused to seek treatment, the abusers forced the victim to hide her son’s remains. The defendants were Domingo Salazar and his wife Norma Méndez.
  • Antoinette Davis, charged with human trafficking and gross child abuse of her own son after surveillance film captured her accused accomplice, Andrette McNeill, taking Antoinette’s own five-year-old daughter to a Sanford hotel shortly before that his body was found.

Incredible number of victims

The numbers are staggering, even if they are hard to come by, given the “underground” nature of the crime. UNESCO’s Trafficking in Persons Statistics Project described the issue: “When it comes to statistics, trafficking in girls and women is one of several very emotional issues that seem to overwhelm critical faculties. The numbers are huge. a life of its own, gaining acceptance through repetition, often with little research on its derivations. “

UNICEF estimated global casualties in women and children at 1.75 million, while the FBI is more modest at a 2001 estimate of 700,000 victims. The most cited in various media reports is 1.2 million women and children, which falls somewhere between these two extremes.

14,500 to 17,500 trafficked in the US each year

While the number of “victims of human trafficking” most frequently cited is 300,000 in total in the US, what is known with greater certainty is that the number of victims entering the United States each year it is 14,500 to 17,500 according to US State Department statistics (2005). .

The average age of exploitation of human trafficking in the United States is set between 12 and 14 years for girls and between 11 and 13 years for boys. Internationally, crime tends to be younger, and 12-year-old prostitutes are considered “too old” in countries like Cambodia.

Abroad, the problem may seem worse; in Thailand, for example, at least 60% of child prostitutes were found to have HIV; however, of the estimated 1.2 million victims worldwide, a disproportionate percentage is assumed to be Americans. crimes

The revenue generated from this horrible crime is estimated at $ 9.5 billion. The costs of doing “business” are ruined lives, child abuse, and long-term damage to millions of victims. According to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), “A study of 207 women trafficked for prostitution in Europe found that the vast majority (95 percent) suffered physical and sexual abuse …” (Zimmerman et al 2006).

Human trafficking in the US

The US Department of Justice estimated that 200,000 American children were “at risk of being trafficked in the sex industry” according to Attorney General John Ashcroftt in 2003. The majority of these victims are from East Asia, an estimated in about 7,000 victims by the Department of Justice, with up to 5,500 victims from Europe and Latin America. Unlike many countries, the United States is proactive in fighting the second fastest growing crime, hampered by difficult prosecution.

Difficult to process

Human trafficking is often difficult to prosecute. According to Dorchen Leidholdt, director of the Family Center for Legal Services for Enhanced Women, “Victims of sex trafficking often find themselves in situations where their survival depends on complying with the demands of traffickers. It is not uncommon for them to Victims pose smiling for pornographic films, photos, dancing with clients, signing prostitution contracts and even marrying their traffickers, all of which are then used by defense attorneys to prove that the victims were “voluntary prostitutes”, not victims of trafficking. If all that was required was to show proof of the sex trafficking itself, not force, fraud or coercion, then such evidence would be considered irrelevant or would be considered as evidence of sex trafficking. ” Prosecutors are forced to prove duress or force, which is often difficult with unwanted victims who fear being charged.


The most common “definition” of human trafficking is less sensational than the crimes they are actually trying to describe. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) of 2000 describes the crime: “it is the recruitment, smuggling, transportation, shelter, purchase or sale of a human being through force, threats , fraud, deception or coercion for the purpose of exploitation, that is, prostitution, pornography, migrant labor, clandestine workshops, domestic servitude, forced labor, servitude, peonage or involuntary servitude “.

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