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Opinion

Sex trafficking in our backyards
N.C. is ground zero in illicit trade
 
Published Friday, January 3, 2014 7:12 am
by Tiffany Barclay

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, sex trafficking of adults and children is the “fastest growing business of organized crime, and the third largest criminal enterprise in the world.”

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Tiffany Barclay

It is estimated that 100,000 to 300,000 children are victims of sex trafficking each year. However, many of us still believe that this problem is not happening in our community. It is estimated that North Carolina is ranked in the top eight for human trafficking in the United States. According to Polaris Project (one of the largest national anti-trafficking organizations) sex trafficking occurs when people are forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade against their will.

Incidents have been uncovered amongst a wide variety of venues within the sex industry including residential brothels, hostess clubs, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution.

There is a current bill that is in progress and, if enacted, will be a strong combatant against sex trafficking of minors. The End Sex Trafficking Act of 2013 (H.R. 2805) fights the demand for sex trafficking of minors and specifically targets offenders who exploit children for sex trafficking. The amendment of H.R. 2805 would mean that patrons as well as pimps who exploit minors for sex would face harsh punishment of a fine and imprisonment of no less than 15 years if the minor is less than 14 years of age at the time of the offense. If the minor is older than 14 and less than 18 years of age at the time of the offense, the offender faces a fine and no less than 10 years in prison.

Within 180 days after this enactment, the Attorney General will ensure all task forces and working groups within the Innocence Lost National Initiative to engage in activities, programs, or operations to increase the investigative capabilities of state and local law enforcement officers in the detection, investigation and prosecution of persons who patronize, or solicit children for sex. 

In the past few years, the knowledge of human trafficking has increased tremendously as North Carolina is home to many non-profit anti-trafficking organizations that have helped to raise awareness. Despite the efforts of these organizations, many still do not understand the magnitude of the problem on a local level. Charlotte is one of the top 10 cities in the country for minor sex trafficking. Because of Charlotte’s close proximity to Atlanta, which is another hub for minor sex trafficking, a lot of young girls are transported through various means between the two cities for sex trafficking.

Venues such as large conventions, concerts, and sporting events, are prime opportunities for young girls to be transported to Charlotte by the van load and coerced or forced to engage in illicit acts to earn money for their pimps, “boyfriends,” and even family members.  

The true number of sex trafficking victims is unknown as incidents are underreported and difficult to track which indicates this crime is happening more frequently than most of us can probably imagine. As a graduate student in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California, I have learned that any type of person can become a victim of human trafficking. A colleague recently disclosed that she was sexually exploited by her father at the age of nine years old. It can be difficult to put into perspective just how close to home this is happening until one personally knows an individual who has been a victim. 

One thing everyone can do to help eradicate this form of modern day slavery is to speak to friends, family, and co-workers about this issue and help raise awareness. Another way to get involved is by voting for local legislators who advocate for victims of sex trafficking and support bills like H.R. 2805. Sex trafficking is a serious issue happening to friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members in our local communities. It’s not specific to one age group, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status and it’s possible that you know someone who is or has been a victim of a form of human trafficking.  

Tiffany Barclay is a graduate student in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

 

Comments

Great article thanks Tiffany.
Posted on April 5, 2014
 
Thanks you for your thoughtful and informative article Tiffany.
Posted on April 5, 2014
 
Tiffany: Do you know the name of the anti-trafficking organization that left notes in the
bathrooms of hotels and buildings during the Charlotte CIAA tournament? My book club would
like to donate money to help with their effort to protect girls.



like to donate money to their effort to help protect girls.
Posted on March 6, 2014
 
Tiffany, thank you for a timely and informative article about this very serious subject. Well done!
Posted on January 9, 2014
 
I have spent the last twelve years writing a novel that deals with the connections between child sex trafficking and the occult. It?s coming out before Christmas. I think you may find it sheds light on this topic. If interested, subscribe to my notification list, to be told when it?s available: http://t.co/7b3D2jEOZs
Posted on January 4, 2014
 

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