News / USA

    Human Trafficking Isn't Just Across Borders

    A copy of classified advertisements in back of Nov. 12 issue of New York magazine, when soon after the publishers agreed to stop accepting sex ads, is shown in New York City, November 2007 (file photo)
    A copy of classified advertisements in back of Nov. 12 issue of New York magazine, when soon after the publishers agreed to stop accepting sex ads, is shown in New York City, November 2007 (file photo)

    Multimedia

    Peter Fedynsky

    New York City's borough of Queens, which is home to the city's two major airports, is among the top five regions in the United States for human trafficking, according to U.S. officials. But local officials who combat the problem say a victim does not necessarily need to be transported to be trafficked.  Foreign and domestic targets of trafficking are equally subjected to the psychological deceptions of pimps.

    According to estimates by the U.S. State Department, as many as 17,000 people, mostly women and children, are transported to the United States each year and forced to work as prostitutes, part of a world-wide phenomenon known as human trafficking. An even greater number of Americans are trafficked, even if they never leave their own neighborhood.  

    Lori Cohen, an attorney with the Center for Battered Women, explains. "In fact, in neither the federal or the state definition of trafficking is transport anywhere involved.  Right here in New York City, you don’t have to cross a state boundary; you don’t even have to go out of your own borough."  

    Activists say another misconception is that human trafficking necessarily involves kidnapping or brutal force. The U.N. definition of trafficking includes recruitment by "deception," or "abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, for the purpose of exploitation."

    Rita Abadi, a manager at the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program in New York, said troubled young women, in the United States or overseas, often are approached by someone who appears loving, who listens to their problems and lures them with the dream of being taken care of. It could be a promise of providing shelter, or a big city job.

    "Actually, what this promoter is doing is to know about her life, know about her family, know about her friends," said Abadi. "And this is what is going to be used very, very soon against these girls as a means of control."

    Abadi said victims often are impoverished, or lost and desperately lonely, leading to mistaken trust in someone who pretends to listen.

    "It’s very, very hard to explain that there is this really, really very unhealthy connection, but this is in some way the only connection they are able to establish."  

    Sheila White, a Queens native, managed to escape from her pimp and now counsels other girls. White said she left a home where her mother turned to alcohol to cope with violent beatings by the father. After being raped in foster care, she attempted suicide and was placed in a mental institution. White was 15 years old and hardly aware that pimps existed apart from a flashy stereotype.

    "I was introduced to this guy, and, for the first time in my life, at that point, I felt like I had someone to listen to me. He listened to all that I had been through. He was very caring and loving towards me. And, at that point, I believed he was going to be my boyfriend."

    Having no place to go and no one to talk to, White said, she allowed the man to sell her as a prostitute. Eventually, the young woman managed to turn her life around, and is now a counselor with the Girls Educational and Mentoring Services in New York, an agency that helps girls as young as 12, who have been targets of trafficking.

    Cohen said the boyfriends, husbands and even fathers who victimize women engage in what she calls a profound betrayal of love.  Cohen said there are instances of women being kidnapped, but, more frequently, they are kept as sex slaves with threats of reprisals against family members. Cohen said debt bondage is another means of control used most commonly against Asian women.

    "The women themselves may have debt that needs to be repaid at incredibly high rates that would be impossible for them to ever repay it.  Or their family members back home have now been held in these predatory loans, where the family members are entirely dependent on a young woman working here in the United States to pay off this debt."

    Cohen said human trafficking also involves demand - customers who pay for sex. She supports enactment of laws to imprison such people. Current legislation targets prostitutes, not clients. But Cohen notes that fewer clients would mean fewer victimized women.

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora