Sex Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery

Watching the local news last night I saw where two separate sex trafficking stings saved two teenage girls who had ran away from home and then found themselves forced into sex trafficking by men who controlled them through threats, physical violence and drug use.

One girl was 17 years old and was scared to leave the guy who took her from hotel to hotel advertising her over the internet. The other girl was a 14 year old runaway who was found drugged in the passenger seat of the sex traffickers car.

Both of these operations weren’t done in some shady part of town, but in a tourist area where hotels are often cheap and it’s easy for the sex traffickers to blend in with the multitude of tourists visiting our city.

Whenever I hear the word sex and trafficking put together I get an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Sex trafficking is a form of modern day slavery.

Victims of sex trafficking are usually female, are often under the age of 18 and coerced through force, fraud or coercion to perform sexual acts for money, drugs, favors, etc.,.

Often psychological coercion such as “No one loves you but me”, “Your family doesn’t want you”, “You’re nothing without me”, etc. are used and/or physical coercion such as violence, threats of violence and even physical bondage are used.

Sex traffickers use a number of ways of getting their victims. In foreign countries they are often lured by:

• A promise of a good job in another country
• A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
• Being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends
• Being kidnapped by traffickers

(Human Trafficking Resource Center)

Here in the United States, sex traffickers often lure runaway teenagers with the promise of love, protection, money and/or drugs.

Sex traffickers frequently subject their victims to debt-bondage, an illegal practice in which the traffickers tell their victims that they owe money (often relating to the victims’ living expenses and transport into the country) and that they must pledge their personal services to repay the debt.

In the United States sex traffickers often tell their victims that they owe them money for drugs, protection or housing.

Sex traffickers often “condition” their victims through confinement, rape, gang rape, beatings, starvation, physical abuse, forced drug use and threats of harm to their families or to shame them by making their family and loved ones aware of their activities.

Physical and Mental Risks

Some of the risks victims face are health risks, mental risk and alcohol and drug addiction.

Physical risks can include concussions, vaginal/anal tearing, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, sexually transmitted diseases, sterility, miscarriages, and forced abortions.

Mental risks include dissociation, depression, anxiety, shame, self-hatred, suicide, suicidal thoughts, distrust, fear, hatred towards men, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a sense of helplessness.

Victims may also suffer from traumatic bonding – a form of coercive control in which the perpetrator instills in the victim fear as well as gratitude for being allowed to live.

Types of Sex Trafficking Include

  • prostitution
  • pornography
  • stripping
  • live-sex shows
  • mail-order brides
  • military prostitution
  • sex tourism.

Victims that are forced into prostitution and pornography are usually exploited the most and are at greatest risk of danger.

Sex Trafficking Operations

They can be found in highly-visible places such as on the street with prostitution, on the internet and residential houses. Like I said, here on the news it was discovered in a popular tourist location. Often they take place behind closed doors of massage parlors, strip clubs and other fronts for prostitution.

Some times victims may start off stripping, and then get tricked or persuaded into prostitution or pornography.

Help for Sex Trafficking Victims

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.3737.888.

This hotline will help you determine if you have encountered victims of human trafficking, will identify local resources available in your community to help victims, and will help you coordinate with local social service organizations to help protect and serve victims so they can begin the process of restoring their lives.

For more information on human trafficking visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.

(National Human Sex Trafficking Resource Center)

Human Rights Violations, Psychological Damage and Caster Semenya

Most of us know Mokgadi Caster Semenya as the South African middle-distance runner who’s gender came into question after she blew away her competition during the women’s 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships with a then world record time of 1:55.45.

I remember when her gender came into question first in the media, then among my peers who insisted due to Semenya’s masculine appearance, voice and astonishing athletic feats, that she had to be a man, or at the minimum, not all woman.

The International Associate of Athletics Federation (IAAF) reported that they had to investigate Semenya after she made improvements in both her 800 and 1500 meter times by 8 seconds and 25 seconds respectfully, improvements in performance that usually arouse suspicions of performance enhancement drugs (PEDs) use. At this time, the IAAF also tricked Semenya and performed a gender test without her permission, something she confirmed during an interview with NBC before her Olympic race in London. Semenya stated that she knew she was being tested for PEDs, something she was used to, but didn’t know she was going through a gender test until the testing became more of a violation, poking and probing in areas she knew weren’t part of any PEDs test she had ever been through.

If this is true, which various sources confirm, it is a violation of her human rights. Furthermore, she had to seek the legal services of Dewey & LeBoeuf who are acting pro bono to make sure her legal, human and civil rights will not be further violated.

After more gender tests and speculation over her eligibility to compete as a woman, the IAAF finally cleared her in July 2010 to return to competition as a woman and has yet to release their findings from her gender tests. Since her medical records are private, it may never be known if much of the embarrassment and scrutiny Semenya was subjected to was all for nothing, but one would suspect that if the IAAF had enough evidence to suggest Semenya wasn’t “technically” a woman, they would have released it.

I have to imagine that this young lady, at the time this all began she was only 18, suffered imaginable psychological damages having the world not only question who she was as a person, but to be examined like an animal with the world waiting for the results.

Since returning to international racing Semenya hasn’t been her self. During her 800 race in the London Olympics she got silver after trailing most of the race and only running hard towards the end to secure a second place finish. Many commentators, sport analyst and spectators commented that Semenya seemed to lose the race on purpose, saying that she didn’t seem tired after the race, much like she had in an earlier international race where she got a silver. If this is true, it is sad, but can you see why someone who previously fell under world scrutiny after finishing first, would purposely opt out of being in that position again.

In an interview after the race, Semenya stated that her head just wasn’t into it. This is the Olympics, what professional athlete’s head is not into their Olympic event? Maybe one who had her human rights violated and was kept out of competition while the IAAF tried to verify her gender which indeed caused an untold amount of psychological damage.

In that same interview with NBC, Semenya asked the interviewer, Mary Carillo how she would feel if she was subjected to the same scrutiny while the world watched through a microscope and the interviewer had no response. Semenya stated “you might even think about taking a suicide” which to me suggests at some point, Semenya did indeed think about committing suicide.  I am so glad that she was strong enough, confident enough and resilient enough to overcome that destructive and irreversible thought. Now if only her psychological damages can be healed enough where she can feel free to race at her best and win without fear of once against being cast into the world spotlight for anything other than being one of the best women 800 meters runners ever.

Does the Baby’s DNA Change if the Mother Has Sex with Another Guy While Pregnant?

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I’m a strong proponent of the “there are no stupid questions” rule (in most cases), but can I propose that there are stupid statements?

The other day, an 18 year old client of mine, who is about two months pregnant with her ex-boyfriend’s baby, told me that she hasn’t told her new boyfriend that she is pregnant because she plans on changing the baby’s DNA from her ex-boyfriend’s to her new boyfriend’s by having repeated, unprotected sex with him. I nearly passed out from the shock of her ignorance!

I explained to her that it doesn’t work like that and tried to give her a crash course in human reproduction, but she quickly dismissed me, saying that she had a cousin who did it before (the cousin was probably never pregnant the first time to begin with, but that’s another story). I was so appalled that I could’t even debate with her because apparently she knew more than I did. It just made me more concerned about our youth and our future!

I took the liberty of researching her absurd question and was shocked to find that many people have asked the same question on forums such as yahoo answers! Not only that, but they asked such questions such as, “Does swallowing semen change the baby’s DNA?” ! What is wrong with these people? I know part of the problem is that we took sex education out of schools, so now we have a whole generation of children being raised not knowing the basics of human reproduction, human sexuality and anatomy and they will soon be raising and educating kids of their own! Scary! They’re not even concerned with real things that can “change” a baby’s DNA such as the mother’s diet and toxins such as smoking cigarette’s while pregnant. These things can alter DNA and make a child more prone to things like asthma, obesity, illnesses and allergies, but they nor can anything else turn “Mike’s baby” into “John’s baby” just because the mother and “Mike” no longer are together.

Few things scare me more than the state of our children and our future and the fact that they think they know everything when they at times don’t seem to understand the essentials of life.