The ATLAST Human Trafficking Awareness Forum will be presented on May 11, 2013 at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin, Ill. This inaugural event is being held to help educate neighboring communities on this growing problem and provide free legal assistance to those throughout the northwest suburbs who are trapped in human trafficking. There is no cost to attend.
Administer Justice, a faith-based, nonprofit, legal aid group, began its ATLAST (Attorneys Targeting Labor and Sex Trafficking) program in 2012. Most Americans aren’t aware of just how widespread and close to home the problem is. But the fact is, human trafficking for forced slave labor, including prostitution, is prevalent in every city in America, including some of the finest and most renowned establishments.
The dirty secret
While most Americans were happily watching the Super Bowl on TV, any Super Bowl from any recent year, they weren’t aware that the Big Game is the single most prostitute-saturated major event in America. Each year, scores of young women and little girls are shipped to the host city where they are forced to sleep with as many as 25 to 50 men per day over the festive football weekend.
According to a recent Huffington Post report, police reported that as many as 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl. And in 2011 in Dallas, 133 underage girls were arrested for prostitution related to Super Bowl parties and events. “The Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly,” Greg Abbott was quoted saying after the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas, “It’s commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.”
According to an account by the San Diego Union-Tribune last month, cases of human trafficking in San Diego federal court have spiked 600% over the past five years. Offering a slightly better overview, the US Attorney General’s office says the cases of human trafficking for labor or sex slavery is only up 30% over the past three years. What’s not argued about is the fact that the horrifying and torturous practice is on the rise across the US.
Shocking statistics and stories
While most Americans imagine sex slaves as young Asian girls, or boys, shipped in from Southeast Asian countries, the fact is that 72% of human trafficking victims are Americans. And while the sex slave industry is large, the forced labor trafficking business is even bigger.
Again, most Americans imagine migrant Mexican farm workers being tricked into working American farms for little more than the food and shelter needed to survive, and then not being allowed to leave. And while that’s a prevalent example, apparently those victims are outnumbered by American citizens being forced into slave labor in manufacturing sweat shops in major cities across the US.
Another horrifying statistic comes from the California Attorney General’s office where they cite the fact that the typical age of a human trafficking victim is 12 to 14 years old. Officials detailed how one of the larger suppliers of human slaves these days are American street gangs. They pose as friends, even romantically interested, and then kidnap and sell the poor, unsuspecting young girls.
Another tactic modern American slavers use is the internet. According to the above Union-Tribune account, ‘Traffickers seek vulnerable girls and boys by trolling the Internet, especially Facebook, looking for kids who appear bored, sad, lonely or neglected.’ A third typical way the slave industry gets victims is by hanging out at the same places troubled youth congregate, such as the mall during school hours, foster homes and large facilities for troubled kids.
But for all those adult Americans who think it could never happen to them, think again. Consider the story of one woman who applied for a bookkeeping job at a small, home-based business. After interviewing victims to find those possibly new to town or without many friends or relatives in the area, the home business hired this particular woman.
Unfortunately, she was beaten and terrorized until she could do no more than submit to the slaver’s authority. The man was eventually caught and is currently serving a 30 year prison sentence. But that’s how quick and easy it happens. Often, in addition to the beatings, violence and terror, abductors give the victims drugs to make the process easier.
The sad reality is that human trafficking, for both sex and slave labor, is alive, well and growing in America. Those interested in more information or anyone who is a victim of human trafficking are invited to attend the May 11 event in Elgin sponsored by Administer Justice. Other participating groups include World Relief, Metropolitan Family Services, the Elgin Police Dept, and Willow Creek Community Church.
The forum is being held on May 11th at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin from 3:00 – 5:00pm. Visit Administer Justice for more information.