News / USA

Facing Modern Day Enslavement

Facing Modern Day Enslavementi
X
December 06, 2013
Human trafficking exists in almost every region around the globe - children, young women, even men - entrapped and forced into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of servitude, unable to escape. The best estimates indicate that 100,000 children and adults are trafficked within the U.S. every year. As VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports, though, a variety of activists have mobilized to fight it. Faith Lapidus narrates.
TEXT SIZE - +
Faiza Elmasry
Human trafficking exists in almost every region around the globe - children, young women, even men - entrapped and forced into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of servitude, unable to escape. The best estimates indicate that 100,000 children and adults are trafficked within the U.S. every year. A variety of activists have mobilized to fight it.

Eight years ago, Shamere McKenzie was an ambitious 21-year-old college student in New York. The last thing she expected was to become trapped in the commercial sex industry.

“It happened by meeting a man who I believed had an interest in dating me at first. I would never think he was a pimp because he was very smooth, very charming," said McKenzie. "We had great conversations about politics, single parents in the community, the high number of African American males incarcerated. So with those types of conversations, I didn’t think that this guy was, in fact, a pimp. I was in jeopardy of losing my scholarship. I needed $3,000 to go back to school, and he said, ‘don’t worry I’ll help you get back to school.'”

But instead of helping her, he kidnapped her and forced her into prostitution.

“I think a true word that will really define what it’s like to be enslaved is torture. And that is torture in every sense of the word that you can just imagine of what torture is," she said. "A lot of times the public think it’s these beatings or rapes, but it’s more than that. For some survivors it’s getting burns with cigarette butts. For some survivors it’s being slashed in the head with a box cutter.”

McKenzie was enslaved for 18 months during which she tried every possible way to escape.

“But all my ways proved futile. I didn’t have the courage to kill him. I tried running away a couple of times, but that didn’t work. I thought about poisoning his food and things of that nature to get out," said McKenzie. "But from the very first time, I told my trafficker I wanted to leave. And he told me, 'if you leave me I will kill you or your family.'”

It wasn’t until the police busted her trafficker - and her - that she was freed.

McKenzie is now working with Shared Hope International, an organization that fights to prevent sex trafficking and rescue those in caught in its web.

Spokeswoman Taryn Offenbacher said they have a comprehensive strategy to achieve their mission. “Our prevention efforts are all based on training and awareness. [In] our restoration efforts, we have 12 partners in five countries and we support long-term restoration, shelter and services, medical treatment, food and shelter, clothing, educational opportunities and training. The justice component [is] being able to properly prosecute the crime.”

While trafficking takes different forms around the world, Offenbacher said the driving force behind it remains the same: demand.

“We know that without demand there will be no trafficker, there will no victim," said Offenbacher. "If states can prioritize demand deterrence, putting laws on the books that would deter buyers and provide meaningful, significant sentences and punishments that would deter them from the crime, and if it’s recognized as a crime, we believe we would see less buyers out there buying, and less victims out there being exploited.”

That is the message Shamere McKenzie presents as a voice for sex trafficking victims.
 
“I speak to several audiences. I speak to colleges, to churches, I speak with policy makers. When I’m speaking to young men, I stress upon the fact that it’s not cool to be a pimp. I explain to them what the true definition of a pimp is. And for several of these young men, when they hear that they’re like, ‘wow, these pimps are really bad.’ And for young ladies, I explain to them how easy it is for them to be captured by a pimp.”

Now almost 30, McKenzie is getting ready to go back to college and study law. She hopes to prosecute traffickers, helping to end the scourge of human trafficking.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 09, 2013 7:08 PM
I am suddened at all to hear about this kind of enslavement story.
Victims are not to blame, deceivers are to blame and should be eradicated. I can not believe 100,000 people are estimated to be trafficked in the US every year. Victims who are coming out their terrible experiences are brave enough to raise awareness to naive young people. Good luck Shamere McKenzie !

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid