Baltimore Part Of Human Trafficking Problem, Experts Say

Task Force Training Officers To Spot Potential Victims

BALTIMORE — Local advocates are using a tragic story of a 5-year-old sold as a sex slave, to talk about human rights abuses in Baltimore.

On Tuesday, authorities in Fayetteville, N.C., confirmed that a body discovered yesterday is that of 5 year-old Shaniya Davis.

Detectives accuse the girl’s mother, Antoinette Davis, 25, of selling the child as a sex slave. Mario McNeil, 29, is being charged in Davis’ kidnapping.

“Sorry baby that you have to do this, you are in a better place. You are in better hands. You don’t have to hurt no more,” Shaniya’s father, Bradley Lockhart, said.

Numbers are difficult to come by in the shadowy world of child sex trafficking, but it is prevalent enough in Maryland that there is a state task force assembled to address the issue.

WBAL-TV 11 News spoke to a member of the task force who has spent years trying to reach victims.

Sidney Ford, of You Are Not Alone, or YANA, is part of Maryland’s Human Trafficking Task Force. She’s counseled women who have sold their own children into prostitution and she said there are willing buyers in the Baltimore area.

“Right here in Baltimore, there are people who are willing to pay big bucks to have sex with children. (It) fuels the market for this really abhorrent practice,” Ford said.

Ford said there are often missed opportunities to help victims like Shaniya before it’s too late. She trains police officers to look out for potential red flags.

“In their routine calls, emergency rooms, down the street, when they see certain types of situations happening that they ask questions that go beyond the immediate situations,” Ford said.

Situations which she said play out on Baltimore streets every day and often come to light if you ask the right questions.

“A woman saw an 11-year-old out on the corner. Her mother flew out of her house and said, ‘You need to make $500 tonight or I will beat your ass,'” Ford said.

It’s too late to save Shaniya, but those who advocate against human sex trafficking hope her story will shine light on the practice.

Ford adds that traffickers, including parents, often threaten kids or get them hooked on drugs or alcohol to make them less likely to run away or ask for help.

There is a national hotline set up for victims — that number is 1-800-373-7888.


Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 7:19 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve noticed WP will put the newer post after the older post in a particular category. What should you wanted to rearrange this so that an older post was put in the beginning of a web page or if you needed to put an older post in front of an older post?! I made the post ‘sticky’ and it didn’t make any difference. I guess due to the fact the post is part of a category and not a specific web page. Any ideas.!.

  2. Please note that the national hotline posted is INCORRECT.

    The correct number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888 (note: 1-888 not 1-800).

    Thank you for your prompt attention to and correction of this important matter.

  3. I don’t normally comment on blogs.. But nice post! I just bookmarked your site

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