Two high-profile arrests have recently called attention to human trafficking in the United States. A Saudi princess visiting California was arrested for claims that she exploited her domestic servants after a Kenyan woman who worked for her contacted authorities saying she thought she was a victim of human trafficking. She claimed that the princess recruited her with the understanding she would be paid $1600 per month for domestic work for 8 hours a day and for 5 days a week. Instead she said she was paid only $220 and forced to work 16 hour days for seven days a week. She said her passport had been confiscated in Saudi Arabia (Fox News).
The second arrest stemmed from an FBI national sweep that rescued over 100 children around the country also caught 150 pimps. Some of the victims were as young as 13 and the youngest was only 9 years old. Called “The Innocence Lost” Initiative, the FBI efforts have reportedly rescued 2700 children since 2003.
The California police and all the law enforcement personnel who cooperated in the FBI arrests should be applauded for their accomplishments. Diligent police work is required to find and prosecute these traffickers and these recent efforts are a step in the right direction.
But is this effort enough? It is estimated that about 300,000 children are trafficked within the United States every year. What happens to those children who fall outside the pool of 2700 children who have been rescued? They continue lives of quiet desperation — unless of course, one can believe they enjoy being raped as many as 25 times a night, beaten, drugged, and deprived of food.
Some major anti-trafficking organizations are taking action by focusing attention on demand. Shared Hope International and Free the Captives have demanded programs that redefine offenders to include the “johns” who keep the supply chain reaping enormous profits. Without customers, there would be no trafficking. Traditionally what has happened to the “johns” is that they receive a slap on the wrist and measures are taken not to ruin their “good names,” while the true victims are incarcerated and vilified. Some cities have what are called “John Schools”, in which they sit for several hours listening to lectures from experts about how engaging in sex with prostituted children is not a good thing. The pimps often go free due to the problems associated with prosecuting them. If the girls disappear, there is no one to testify, and the sex trade in women and children flourishes.