Life · Writing Challenge

Day 10: Something I Feel Strongly About.

That’s a funny thing. With me, either I feel strongly about something- or I don’t. It’s just like that. I am either completely excited about something, or I am not. Completely infatuated with something or not interested at all. I think that’s part of me being an empath. I don’t mind it this way. I think other people more so mind it. Because once I am passionate about something, you cannot get me to stop.

I think one the things I feel most strongly about is the trafficking of humans. Modern Day Slavery. 

I can’t remember when I first realized that this actually happened. I think the first time I ever found out about it was later on in my life. I think I was 16, after I watched Taken for the first time. In this movie, a families daughter goes away to Paris with a friend and they get kidnapped by traffickers and sold into prostitution. I remembered being so frightened by this movie, thinking, “Is this real? Does this actually happen?”

Oh yes, now I remember this is exactly when I first found out about trafficking. Because, the following summer after seeing this movie- I got a letter in the mail to join a high school student study abroad program- and I was afraid to go because one of the stops was Paris, and I didn’t want to get kidnapped. After I watched Taken, my parents explained that this does happen, and it is real. But, I shouldn’t be scared to live because “trafficking happens EVERYWHERE. You just have to be careful.”

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For a while I chose to store this in the back of my mind and not really pay attention to it because it scared me. I think that the sole fact that I didn’t know what trafficking was until I was sixteen says quite a lot about how we choose to deal with the reality of trafficking. We, as a society, kind of ignore it and pass it off as something that doesn’t usually happen often, or “Oh, I don’t have to worry because it only happens in foreign countries.”

Well, let me tell you something- that is so, so false. And that exact thought process is why the United States has tons of trafficking victims and we don’t even realize it. The only way to try and put an end to trafficking, is to TALK ABOUT IT. Make people aware! 

When I was 18, and just starting college, I researched all the time about trafficking humans. This is when I became my most passionate about the topic. I wanted to know everything. How much does it happen? How many people are sold a day? Where does it happen the most? Do the traffickers get caught? How long do they go away for if they’re caught? Why don’t these girls ever get found? Are they always sold into prostitution? How can I help?

In the past two years I have watched countless documentaries on trafficking, read over 20 books on the topic, wrote two research papers, and performed one presentation on sex trafficking.

Let me backtrack here for a second. If you aren’t too sure what human trafficking is, I will tell you. Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Mostly kids, and woman (sometimes men) are kidnapped, or sold into the business by their familiesto earn money for their illegal and non-consensual work. The work could range from being a maid, working in a factory to the more cruel work, being a sex slave. The woman are sold to escort services, strip clubs, brothels, or massage parlors.

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There are around 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. Every single day this number rises. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Of this 600,000-800,000, 80% are female and half are children. The average age a teen entering the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-years-old.

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Sex slavery is the third largest illegal source of income in the world, coming after drugs, and guns. Annually, this horrific business racks in around 32 billion dollars.

Want to stay ignorant and pretend this isn’t happening where you live? Let me pop your little bubble there. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.

  • California has THREE of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
  • Texas is the highest sex trafficking state in the United States, with 15% of the kidnappings occurring in Dallas.
  • How about were I live? I live on Long Island, NY.
  • Long Island has been recognized as the 21st region in the United States with the HIGHEST AMOUNT OF TRAFFICKED HUMANS. No f******* way is what I though when I found this out.Check out these links:
  • Trafficking in Hempstead and Franklin Square (Minutes from where I live)
  • Trafficking in Ronkonkoma (A county away from where I live)
  • Trafficking in Amityville (About 30 minutes from where I live)
  • Trafficking in Wantaugh (About 20 minutes from where I live)

Why don’t we hear about this? Why is trafficking kept so hush-hush, and under-the-radar? Why isn’t there a national uproar about this- but there is about Lamar Odom overdosing, and Scott Disick cheating on Kourtney Kardashian?

Wake up people! This is happening right in our neighborhoods and we are choosing to stay ignorant. Who ever said ignorance is bliss is completely out of their mind. We have to know these things! God forbid your child went missing. According to statistics, if you live in a high trafficking area- you have about 96 hours to track your child before you might never see them again. Scary freaking stuff. But- it’s way better to be educated on this, than not.

But Alyssa, can’t they just run away? No, not really. And if they do- they are quite lucky. Traffickers control their “slaves” in ways that make it impossible to leave.

Common ways Traffickers maintain control:
•    Debt – requiring the victim to pay off a debt.
•    Documents – taking the victim’s legal papers and documents.
•    Deportation – threatening to report the victim to immigration authorities.
•    Family – threatening to harm the victim’s friends and family.
•    Drugs – providing the victim drugs to make him/her more compliant.
•    Abuse – abusing the victim physically and/or sexually.

On the website linked above, I found these cases that happened in NY that are worth a read:

  1. “Lee is a 17 year-old girl who lived in a small town in China. Smugglers in China promised Lee that they would bring her to New York and find her a job in a nail salon in exchange for $50,000, which she could pay back from her wages. Once in New York, the traffickers took Lee’s passport and other identification and told her she had to work in a brothel in order to repay her debt. She was told that if she refused, she would be reported to immigration authorities and that traffickers in China would harm her family. Traffickers often use a combination of methods to maintain control over their victims.  Here, the traffickers used deception, debt bondage, document seizure, and threats to force her into prostitution. The traffickers also attempted to prevent her from speaking to the authorities by threatening deportation.”
  2. Laura is a 15 year-old girl who lives in Manhattan. Her mother’s boyfriend sexually abused her. When Laura told her mother what had happened, her mother threw her out. Not having anywhere else to go, Laura went to the Port Authority where she was approached by a man in his 30s. He told Laura she was beautiful and that he would take care of her as her boyfriend. After they were living together, he told Laura that they needed money and that prostitution was the only way to earn it. Before she was prostituted for the first time, the man gave Laura cocaine to “take the edge off.” From then on Laura was required to give all of the money she made to this man. If she refused to be prostituted on a particular night, the man would hit her and threaten to tell her family that she was a prostitute.Domestic sex traffickers often prey on “at-risk” children. These are children whom have unstable family lives and have often been the victims of sexual and physical abuse. Domestic sex traffickers recruit by making false promises, providing drugs, or utilizing other enticements. Once involved with the trafficker, the victim is prevented from leaving through psychological and physical coercion.”

What makes me feel even more sick is  that people actually go to these woman and pay for whatever they are being forced to provide, and nobody is thinking twice about it! No man walking into a massage parlor for pleasure is thinking, “Wait- this is illegal. Is this poor woman being forced to do this?” Nobody!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wrap my head around this at all! Or what about the woman who do our nails, ladies? These very women can be woman who are forced to work here illegally!

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Why is it that when a child goes missing and is never found for years- nobody thinks they were kidnapped and trafficked?! I do! It hurts and sucks but I do! We automatically think they “Wandered off” and will return, or were murdered. The cops don’t want to look for a child who was missing less than 48 hours. You just lost 48 precious hours of finding that person under the circumstances that they were taken or approached by someone who is interested in selling them to slavery. TRAFFICKING OCCURS A BILLION TIMES MORE THAN MURDER. We have to start focusing on this! I cannot stress it enough.

Honestly, I could go on forever. I don’t think I could ever stop typing about this topic. I could take your head off for hours. If you want to every discuss this with me, or learn more- I’d be more than willing to educate you some on what I know.

Please, if you get anything out of my blog- I would want it to be this. Just be educated and aware that this is happening everywhere and every second. Don’t push it off as nonsense.

If you stuck around to read this entire thing. Thank you. It means more to me than anything.

*****If you encounter anyone who you believe may be a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888 or Text: BeFree (233733)******

 


Lunalyssa

 

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