Sex-trafficking problem growing quickly

It’s the fastest growing criminal industry

Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in world. A huge part of that is sexual exploitation of women and children.

While international trafficking of women is rampant, there are many examples of domestic trafficking. On any given day on the streets of Atlanta, there are 16,000 to 25,000 young American girls in the shadows, who are victims of trafficking.

“I thought I would be dead,” said Melissa, a victim herself. “I never thought I would live to be 22 or 24 years old.”

Melissa’s story begins when she was 17, living with another runaway. She said a pimp promised them a better life.

“He started to pay our rent, pay our bills, make sure we had food in our house,” recalled Melissa.

In exchange, however, he held her against her will and forced her into the sex trade.

“Within a day, my whole life changed,” said Melissa. “I had to sleep with people. He would tell me where I had to be and when I had to be there.”

Often times, there are stories about women brought from Latin America, Asia and Europe, advocates said a large percentage of those force into sex trafficking are runaways from the United States. Melissa’s case fits the profile, as she was trying to escape a broken home. She was sexually abused at a young age.

“Pimps prey on women like her,” said Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. Ambassador-at-large.

Cdebaca said it is time for the U.S. to step up its crackdown on sex trafficking with more aggressive investigations and prosecutions.

“It’s a problem that’s happening right here, and it’s happening to people’s daughters, its’ happening to people’s nieces, nephews and grandchildren,” said Susan Coppedge, the Assistant U.S. Attorney. “It’s plaguing every community in the United States.

For Melissa, she was held captive by intimidation, fear and physical abuse.

“I was too scared to leave or to go anywhere,” said Melissa. “I had no money. I had nothing. I mean, they were all I had.”

“The pimps almost have a handbook,” said Cdebaca. “The traffickers, how to catch a girl is one term. They will try this on 10 or 20 girls, and will only get one. But it’s that girl who becomes the victim of sex trafficking.”

Ironically, it was a traffic violation arrest that eventually saved Melissa. The FBI convinced her to testify against her pimp and enter rehab for therapy and drug addiction. She is now married and hopes to start a family, something she once could not have imagined.


Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 9:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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