News / USA

US Fights Human Slavery in Major Cities

People from Latin America, Asia trafficked to the US for sex, labor

A study by The Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center finds nearly 83 percent of suspected human trafficking incidents involve the sex trade.
A study by The Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center finds nearly 83 percent of suspected human trafficking incidents involve the sex trade.

Multimedia

Elizabeth Lee

In almost every major city in the United States, advocates say victims of human slavery are exploited everyday.

"Human trafficking is a very serious problem in the United States," says Bradley Myles of the Polaris Project, an organization that fights human trafficking.

According to Myles, some of the victims are forced to work in the homes of the wealthy and at restaurants. Many others, especially women, are forced into prostitution.



"We know from our very own eyes that it's happening. We're not kind of hearing it third hand. We've been inside those places. We work with those women."

The Polaris Project operates a human trafficking hotline. Calls come in from around the country.

"So we're getting calls from Texas. We're getting calls from California. We're getting calls from New York, Florida and DC is one of those top five cities where we're getting calls," says Myles.

Deborah Sigmund, founder of the advocacy group, Innocents at Risk, says most of the victims of human trafficking come from economically depressed countries and are lured to the U.S. with promises of a better life.

"They want to think that they can come to America and have a great job so it's very easy to fool them," she says.

According to the experts, some of the victims are forced to sell sex from brothels disguised as massage parlors.

Tim Whittman of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is an expert on human trafficking in the U.S.

"The number one foreign country is Mexico," says Tim Whittman, an expert on human trafficking with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). "Approximately 20 percent of our cases involve victims from Mexico."

The nation's capital is not immune to the problem. In Washington, the Polaris Project sees sex trafficking victims who are U.S. citizens, and women from South Korea, China and Latin America.

While some of their clients are middle class professionals from the community at large, many brothels will only accept a narrow clientele to make it difficult for law enforcement to catch them.

"If a person for example from Korea is brought in to the United States under false pretenses and then forced into prostitution very much that place where the prostitution occurs is within the Korean community in the United States," says the FBI's Whittman.

A study by The Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center finds nearly 83 percent of suspected human trafficking incidents involve sex trafficking. Advocates say other types of human slavery include people being forced to work as domestic servants and in agriculture. The FBI says the smugglers often threaten their victims and make it difficult for them to pay off their debts.

"Commonly, it's a threat against their family back in their home country and it's used to put that person in a position where they feel compelled to provide labor or service in the United States," says Whitman. "A common threat is if you leave we're going to report you to immigration and you'll be arrested, you'll be kept in prison for a long time."

In reality, there is help. Victims of human trafficking can sometimes be granted a special visa that allows them to stay in the U.S. for up to four years. During that time, they may apply for permanent residency.

But with threats, a language barrier and fear of the legal system, victims often do not or are unable to seek help.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid