Some anti-human trafficking advocates have said that only 1 in 100 victims of human trafficking will ever be rescued. I don’t know how this was determined, but I honestly believe that this does not have to be the reality. In the past 9 months, 108 victims of sex trafficking in the United States have been rescued by the rescue protect teams of Bishop Outreach and partner organizations in conjunction with authorities. Lessons learned from those beginning rescues have been valuable and can only be enhanced if stakeholders are willing to work together. The outcome of collaboration between law enforcement and non-government organizations will only consequence in more rescues and more situations that go to trial. And we will see the 1 in 100 stat grow progressively in the next few years.
Sex Trafficking in the United States
With all of the awareness and education that has taken place in the past several years there is nevertheless slightly of a resistance by many Americans to accept the facts that American men are purchasing Americans and enslaving them in this atrocious crime. I think chiefly because they do not completely understand what human trafficking is. The United States version of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “harsh Forms of Trafficking in Persons” as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years; or, Labor Trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or sets, by the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
The UN Trafficking Protocol (the Palermo Protocol of 2000, an international legal agreement attached to the UN) contains the first internationally agreed upon definition of human trafficking. The heart of the Trafficking Protocol defines human trafficking as: (a) [… ] the recruitment, transportation, move, harboring or receipt of persons, by method of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of strength or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to unprotected to the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. It is the opinion of TIATF that the US should include in its definition the terminology consistent with the UN Protocol since it further distinguishes that the trafficker use “… deception, abuse of strength or of a position of vulnerability… ” when seeking their victims. Traffickers look for the unprotected knowing how to deceive and manipulate them – the worst form of abduction – by causing one to lose trust in those they should trust the most. It takes a lifetime to “re-program” someone that has been manipulated in this manner.
What is the extent of human trafficking in the United States?
Statistics are generally the first thing we learn when becoming educated about human trafficking, however it is the most unreliable source for learning the truth and the extent of the problem. If we want stats there are plenty of them to go around, but they all differ depending on the source that is cited. Most human trafficking advocates seem to take the higher stats and send them around in video’s and articles, placing them on websites and when speaking. I suppose it makes for a better case. And, quite honestly, when Trafficking In America Task Force was a new organization we did the same thing. We took the stats that were obtainable and without in thoroughness knowledge of the reality, simply painted a picture based on statistical outlines. It’s just so upsetting the first time you learn about it and so you begin to hear that 100,000 to 300,000 possible new victims are trafficked each year in America, or that there are 27 million slaves world-wide and 800,000 new victims are trafficked every year (one stat says this is the number of runaways reported in the US yearly). Then there is the average age of a victim being 12 – 13/14. Most stats floating around today are about 7-10 years old and people nevertheless use them.
The International Labor Organization, comparatively trust worthy, came out in 2013 with a new figure that human trafficking is a $34 billion dollar industry world-wide and that sex trafficking had decreased while labor trafficking had increased. Many NGO’s nevertheless use the former 32 billion – so what is a associate of billion here and there? That’s a lot of revenue being generated by traumatically abusing people (50% under the age of 18) and yes; both males and females are trafficked. We have stats on runaways and how many hours it takes for them to be coerced into the commercial sex industry (48 by some accounting while 1/3 are presumably trafficked and 2/3 go home in a few days); stats on the number of times a victim is sold every day (10 to 40); stats on fatherless homes (95% of runaways come from fatherless homes); and on. Stats will excursion you crazy if you let them. But the reality is that they do at the minimum give us a picture that something is tragically wrong in the United States of America – so we must work to fix it.
From the Department of Education we are told that, an unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country for sexual servitude and forced labor. Contrary to a shared assumption, human trafficking is not just a problem in other countries. situations of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. territories. Victims of human trafficking can be children or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female. shared examples of identified child trafficking situations include: Commercial sex, Stripping, Pornography, Forced begging, Magazine crews, Au pairs or nannies, Restaurant work, Hair and Nail salons, Agricultural work, and Drug sales and cultivation.
Rescue of human trafficking victims shows us the reality that no statistic can
On July 11, 2013 Testimony from Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons He states, “Victim identification is the basic first step in stopping this crime. however only about 47,000 victims were brought to light in the last year, compared to up to 27 million people living in slavery. That enormous gap represents the millions who toil unseen and beyond the reach of law, and it shows how far we have to go in this effort.” That is truly lower than the stated 1 in 100. According to this report,.57% (one half of one tenth of a percent) were brought to light (were these indeed all rescues?) worldwide.
So let’s get down to where the rubber meets the road as “they” say. Let’s talk rescue — I met Bishop in April 2013 when he called me to proportion his story. After listening for a while, I asked him to speak at our annual Trafficking in America Conference the next month. I wasn’t already home however from the conference when I received a call from the masked man I really didn’t know that well however, who was simply passionate about rescuing victims and needing some connections to help rescue a young woman. We’ve been working together ever since and he along with new forged partnerships of like mission have now been responsible for 108 successful rescues across the country at this writing.
Bishop uses his personal experiences to show how this multi-billion dollar a year industry works from the inside out. With his skill as a noted gang expert, certified as a gang specialist in MSG, OMG, and STG groups, he holds a multi-state private investigator license and spent four years as an undercover agent with DOJ on Organized Crime. Bishop is able to educate how to see the warning signs, protect your loved ones, and how we can all work together to make a difference in our communities.
So — why the disguise? While serving as an undercover agent for the DOJ, Bishop turned over a number of high profile gang members and human traffickers to the DOJ. The threat of retribution is real, consequently he wears this disguise to protect himself and family.
Cooperation from and with Law Enforcement
We had a rescue in a southern city several months ago that opened our eyes as to the denial (for at any rate reason) that some law enforcement and some cities have regarding human trafficking activity in their area. There can only be three (and a half) reasons for this: 1) dirty cops; 2) an image to protect so as not to lose valuable dollars from tourism and/or protect their citizens from panic mode; or 3) ignorance of the reality of what human trafficking is. In this particular case, I believe all three and a half were present. And several victims were left behind on this particular rescue. Bishop Outreach will not rescue without the sustain of local and/or state authorities cooperation and sustain. They understand the law and they work in conjunction with it for the assistance of justice for victims.
however when a good connection is made with law enforcement agencies that are completely engaged and educated on the reality of human trafficking, the magic takes place and the unexpected happens. Victims get rescued, are transported to safety to begin their restorative journey, and good data is collected for court situations. There is no room for territorial pride in this matter. We have had law enforcement tell us that they need the sustain of non-government organizations (NGOs) because they can’t do it all and we have had them tell us to go away. Go figure! Collaborative efforts are nevertheless the best method to a harmonious end.
NGOs in addition as Department of Children and Families (DCF) and other government agencies are working with victims all across the Unites States. These are the ones that have the first hand knowledge of this issue from the inside out. They are counselors, psychologists, medical professionals, licensed educators, and simply put passionate people that use their lives cleaning up the messes that humans make in one another’s lives. They are the ones that prepare them for their new lives and possible court situations. Law enforcement needs them. Every LE agency should have someone in the sets area to work with them on rescues to not only help clarify the reality of human trafficking, but to be obtainable to begin their trek to restored dignity and honor the moment they are brought out of the clutches of traffickers and into safety.
Placement and victim sets for restoration
The Defender Foundation partners with Bishop Outreach. Their After Care Team is committed to creating care networks of collaborating service providers who have the goal of restoring human trafficking victims; mind, body, and spirit. Volunteers in the After Care Team estimate victims after they are rescued, course of action the necessary paperwork, keep in contact with shelters and service providers that provide care to victims, and follow up with victims over time. They also collaborate with shelters and safe houses to conduct drives to acquire food, clothing, supplies, and other resources that are needed. Volunteers will also make sure the victim’s needs are being met during the rehabilitation course of action at the shelter or safe house and as they are reintegrated into society. The Defender Foundation has a protocol in place that they do not step outside of when it comes to protecting and serving survivors on their way to wholeness. Serving as an After Care Team Volunteer requires a thorough compassion for working with victims. They are especially interested in those with experience in the mental health field and licensed in addition as unlicensed clinicians.
Rescue is where we will learn the truth about human trafficking – not the stats. Rescuing victims not only allows NGO’s to gain valuable insight into what a person experiences from traffickers, but how they are treated by the johns, what the living conditions are like, what their health ramifications are, and much more. A search light into this darkness discloses all that we need to know in order to address it from a societal standpoint. While data collection in numbers is good, data collection from victims and traffickers is better. It is during the rescue and restoration course of action that this most valuable information is gleaned and we need more research dedicated to unraveling the complexities that we now know as human trafficking.