The following essay by Tina Frundt is one of our most-referenced resources from a past initiative of the Women’s Funding Network. We partnered with women’s funds and foundations across the United States as part of a national campaign to research, prevent and end domestic minor sex trafficking. Women’s funds and foundations are often the first to create, support, and promote the latest solutions to major social problems, and our members’ response to this issue was no exception. The Atlanta Women’s Foundation, Minnesota Foundation for Women and New York Women’s Foundation, for example, were key partners and conveners of coalitions advancing public policy change and a system of care for sexually exploited girls in their communities.
While the original campaign involving Women’s Funding Network is now complete, the work on this issue continues among our member funds and foundations around the country.
By Tina Frundt
November 28, 2005
The pimps who are trafficking young women and girls on the street in the U.S. have a great marketing tool: the media.
When we hear the words “sex trafficking,” as Americans we immediately think of women and children overseas who are being forced into the sex trade or who are brought into the United States for the purpose of sexual exploitation. We don’t usually think closer to home — Americans trafficked by Americans. But I want you to think about young women and even girls that you have seen late at night when you come home from work or a social event. Maybe you have seen them in the streets in short dresses and spike heels. You turn your heads to look away. We do not look at the faces of these young women and girls who are forced to be out in the street. Maybe we think this is what they want to do or they wouldn’t be out there. Maybe it is easier to believe that it is an empowering choice they have than face the harsh reality of child sexual abuse, physical and mental abuse, and the pimps that prey on the young women and girls.
To understand all aspects of sex trafficking in the United States, you have to open your mind and let go of what you have seen or heard on television. You need to let go of the media’s portrayal of the “joys” of street prostitution, and open your eyes to the violence and control the pimps and sex traffickers exercise over their victims, who are mostly girls and young women.
ECPAT USA (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes)’, an Anti-Trafficking agency, states that the average age of entry into street prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old, though there have been cases of girls as young as 9 years old.
I was 14 years old when I was forced into prostitution. Like many teens at that age, finding my own identity and defying my parents were top on my list. So when a man came into my life and showered me with attention and listened to me when I complained about my parents, I did not think twice that he was ten years my senior. After all, he said I was mature for my age and told me I understood him better than anyone his own age. Little did I know, he was laying down the seeds of manipulation. It did not matter what my parents said, to me they did not understand me and he was the only one that “got me”. After six months, I thought I loved him, at least that is what he told me, so I did what I thought my heart was telling me and ran away to be with him. We ended up in Cleveland, Ohio. He told me we were going to meet the rest of the family.
I had no idea the “family” meant myself and three other girls. After I was introduced to the “family,” I was told what my role would be. I would go out to “work” that night and bring him back the money. How else would we build our dream home? He assured me he would always love me no matter what, but he needed to know how much I loved him by making sure I would do anything for him.
Later that evening, his friends came by the motel. At first, he told me to have sex with someone. I did not want to so his friends raped me. Afterwards, he said “that wouldn’t have happened if I would have just listened to him at first.” I blamed myself instead of being angry at him for being raped. I was angry at myself for not listening to him in the first place. After that, he picked my clothes out, told me what to wear, what to say, how to walk, what to say to “Johns” and how much money I was to bring back to him. He then forced me to go out into the streets.
When I first went out into the streets, when I met my first John, I felt like this was something I did not want to do. I walked around the streets back and forth for hours. Finally, I got into a car because we were always being watched and I knew I had to get into a car sooner or later. Our quota was $500 and I had only made $50 that night to give back to the pimp. As a result, he beat me in front of the other girls to make an example out of me and then he made me go back out until I had made the money. This is the same man that took me out to eat, listened to me when I wanted to complain about my parents, gave me words of advice. I was now seeing a side of him that I never saw before — a brutal side where he repeatedly hit me in front of the other girls to teach us all a lesson.
Not only was I shocked, I was scared. What would happen to me if I did try to leave and who would believe me if I told them what was going on? I worked from 6 until 10 p.m. the next night without eating or sleeping. I came back with the $500, but in his mind I still had not learned my lesson. He sent me back outside until 5 a.m. the next morning. After the second day, he finally bought me something to eat, but as a punishment to learn never to defy him again, he locked me in the closet. Since that night, I was locked in the closet on numerous occasions and had my finger broken which never set right. None of us were ever allowed to see a doctor so we endured our pain by pushing it deep down inside and trying to forget it ever happened.
I can’t count the number of times people have asked me “why didn’t you just leave?” “Couldn’t you escape?” To that, I simply say “do you ask a child that is kidnapped why they didn’t try to leave?” No, we automatically say they are a victim; it wasn’t their fault. Now I know it was not my fault that a pimp manipulated a child. Under federal law, a child under 18 years who is commercially sexually abused is a victim of trafficking. However under local law a child is charged with child prostitution.
The pimps who are trafficking young women and girls on the street have a great marketing tool: the media. You can turn on the TV now and see pimps glamorized in TV shows, music videos, and movies. Young people use “pimp” in everyday conversation: “my ride is pimped out,” “your clothes are pimping.” They do not understand the reality behind the term.
Pimps prey on young women and girls by finding their weakness and then exploiting it. It is easier to manipulate children, and by the time children become adults, they are broken down and dependent on a pimp. After the pimp gets into your mind, it’s easy for him to maintain control, much like a domestic abuser. From then now on you have to call him “daddy” and he will punish you if he feels like you have stepped out of line. You are required to bring him $500-$2,000 every night. You are not a woman, you are always a “bitch” or a “ho” and are reminded of that daily. You are part of his “stable.” If you do not want to follow the rules, then he may sell you at anytime to another pimp.
Polaris Project, a non-profit anti-trafficking organization in Washington, DC, reported that a pimp who had three young women and girls in his “stable” were each were bringing back $500 every day. Do the math — the pimp was making about $24,000 a month or $642,000 a year tax free by selling sex with girls and young women he controlled and then keeping all the money.
In the dictionary, the definition of slavery is the “state of one bound in servitude.” If someone sells you to someone else, is that not slavery? If someone forces you to do things against your will and you are not allowed to leave, is that not slavery? Then I ask you why, when pimps traffic young women and girls on the streets of America, isn’t this a form of modern-day slavery?
What happened to me 15 years ago is still going on today. I now work as a Street Outreach Coordinator for Polaris Project, and I can see that it is not getting any better — it is only getting worse. We see girls and young women every night being forced onto the streets, beaten, and raped to make money for the pimps.
There are organizations all over the world that work with young women and girls helping them escape from trafficking situations, I urge you to learn how you can stop sex trafficking, in the United States and oversees. To stop the problem we have to understand and help make stronger laws to get these traffickers.
I hope that next time you see the young women and girls on the street, you will have more understanding of the reality of their situation. Now that you have the knowledge, what will you do with it?
Take Action on Sex Trafficking
To learn more about how you can stop sex trafficking, visit A Future. Not A Past.
If you know someone that needs help, call the Dream Catchers Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-229-3339.
Human trafficking is the fastest increasing criminal industry in todays world, coming in second after illegal drug-trade. This type of slaver has been traced back to the ancient Mesopotamian and Mediterranean civilization and has continued to grow. What is human trafficking? Commonly referred to as "modern-day slavery" is the illegal trade of human beings for forced labor or for exploitation. Exploitation referring to the using others for prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery, or the removal of organs. Woman and young children living in poverty are the ones who usually fall in the trap of the traffickers. Due to poverty many woman are not educated and are no employed leaving them with no choice but to sell their bodies to provide for their families. An approximate of 17,500 foreigners are trafficked each year in the United States alone, the number of United States citizens trafficked within the United States are even higher. Human trafficking is a near-guaranteed death due HIV and AIDS woman are infected with. Government around the world are just beginning to address this problem and have realized just how strong this type of slavery has become.
Poverty is the leading cause in human trafficking. It has been documented that poverty leads to a lack of education leading to no employment and that leading to sex trafficking By fighting poverty many believe that there will be an end to sex trafficking too. Woman living in poverty countries will not be looking into sex driven businesses for employment. "Trafficking is inextricably linked to poverty. Wherever privation and economic hardship prevail, there will be those destitute and desperate enough to enter into the fraudulent employment schemes that are the most common intake systems in the world of trafficking." (The United States Agency for International Development) In Kenya, It has been reported that parents have sent their daughters into town for prostitution because they were desperate for money to feed their families. More then 1,500 girls under the age of 18 and as young as 12 in Kenya have been reported to be working prostitution in bars.
It is acknowledged that woman and girls who are trafficked to commercial sex are the ones who will most likely be infected with HIV/AIDS. The threat of the disease among the prostituted woman has not made sex trafficking and prostitution less likely to occur, but has increased the numbers of younger girls being traded. Clients sense that these younger girls are "virgins" and are uninfected by the virus, making them more popular. BBC News reported South America and India are leading with the highest numbers of infected people with HIV/AIDS in the world. South Africa being the first, having 5.1 million living with the disease and India being second by having a rapid increase in numbers of infected woman due to sex trafficking. BBC News reported: "In big red light districts, such as Sonagachi in Calcutta, where at least 10,000 prostitutes make a living, some men continue to insist on sex without condoms.", "The trafficked girls are forced to oblige. Many come from rural villages and do not know what Aids is before they are sold to pimps.", "And as they are moved around the country they can unwittingly spread the disease."
The United States government is committed to fight against human trafficking at home and abroad. The Trafficking victims Protection Act was signed in the year 2000. Stated on humantrafficking.org this Act: "enhances pre-existing criminal penalties, affords new protections to trafficking victims and makes available certain benefits and serves to victims of severe forms of trafficking.It also establishes a Cabinet-level federal interagency task force and establishes a federal program to provide services to trafficking victims." The U.S is also helping countries abroad by providing many anti-trafficking and development programs. Millions of dollars were provided to organizations all over the world to provide programs so human trafficking can be fought. The programs contribute on informing people the dangers of trafficking and strengthening the numbers of non-government organizations. Also stated on humantrafficking that: "The U.S. has assisted countries to enact anti-trafficking legislation, trained law enforcement officials, prosecutors, border guards and judicial officers on detecting, investigating, and prosecuting traffickers, and protecting victims and provided start-up equipment for new anti-trafficking police units." The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act came out in 2003, dedicated to provide aid to approximately 20,000 victims that are trafficked into the U.S each year. President Bush had signed into law in early January the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005. The United Stated had started monitoring people who were being trafficked in 1994, and is continuing to do so until human trafficking is prosecuted.
All in all, human trafficking is a serious crime that not many people are informed about. Young woman and children are forced into this sickening business everyday. Woman and children living in poverty do not know the meaning of human trafficking due to the lack of education. The highest percentage with people carrying the HIV/AIDS virus is for woman on this planet, many believing part of the percentage is because of human trafficking. Not many woman and children know the risks they are taking when they have no choice but to sell their bodies. Government all over the world should be providing information on human trafficking because no nation is immune from this crime
If it comes in second, it is not fastest.
Human trafficking is one of the fastest increasing criminal industry in today's world, coming in second after illegal drug-trade.
Check for small typos:
and are no employed...
It is acknowledged that woman and girls who are trafficked to commercial sex are the ones who will most likely be infected with HIV/AIDS (put a citation here).
The United States government is committed to the fight against
The United States government is committed to fighting against
Also stated on humantrafficking.org : "The U.S. has assisted countries to enact anti-trafficking legislation, trained law enforcement officials, prosecutors, border guards and judicial officers on detecting, investigating, and prosecuting traffickers, and protecting victims and provided start-up equipment for new anti-trafficking police units" (paragraph X). ---- it is good if you put a paragraph or page number. Also, it really is best if you use the writer's name or the organization's name instead of just the web address. The web address goes in the reference list, but in the text cite the person or organization whose words you are using.
Anyway, this essay has a lot of potential. If you want to clean up the MLA, google this:
Purdue owl MLA