Thank to all the University of Tulsa students that came out to the #standupforchange event last night. Here are a few articles that we’ve found really interesting and helpful as we continue this fight.
We also recommend looking at this website http://www.covenanteyes.com/ as a practical way to fight against being a contributor to the demand side of trafficking.
Prostitution For Rent: Sex Trade Heats Up Online
By Rebecca Schleicher Fox 25 News
Prostitution may be known as the world’s oldest profession.
But now men are finding a much more modern way to bring illegal sex right to their door.
You can find almost anything on Craigslist, including sex, if you know where to look.
The shared room section on Craigslist shows almost a dozen current ads from guys in the Metro offering free rent in exchange for something in return.
“They’re targeting people that are probably who are very vulnerable,” said local advocate Brian Bates, “you’re gonna be targeting some single moms, you’re gonna be targeting people with addiction issues, you’re gonna be targeting people that have no other choice but to be taken in by these deviants and have to do whatever they want just to keep a roof over her head.”
Some of the ads are blatant.
One man is offering a free place to stay for a woman who’s “down on her luck.” He includes his picture, says he’s lonely and that his company pays for everything.
Another guy is looking for “homeless females that can appreciate a good man.”
And another looking for an FWB, or friend with benefits. But his ad says she “must be sexy” and “likes good sex.”
Bates is known for his web site JohnTV.com, investigating and exposing pimps and johns in Oklahoma City.
“I get emails about these (ads) all the time,” he said.
But Oklahoma City Police say they’ve never received a complaint.
“We’ve never made a case where they wanted to exchange something of value other than just money,” said Vice Unit Lt. D. Kimberlin.
Because Kimberlin is undercover, he could not show his face on camera, but told FOX 25 the ads would put officers in a tricky situation.
“Is that really gonna happen?” he asked, “did he receive any responses? I don’t know. How you would set about proving that (prostitution) would probably be a little difficult.”
Because rent is a thing of value it’s illegal to offer it in exchange for sex. But officers say for them to prove it posters have to be explicit about their plans.
For safety reasons, FOX 25 reporter Rebecca Schleicher did not meet with the men behind the ads in person. But she reached out over email asking their intentions and conditions.
One would not tell her unless she sent a picture and told him her age. Another asked if she read the ad headline: friends with benefits and the third who replied simply said he wanted a “live-in girlfriend.”
Because law enforcement says finding the posters and proving solicitation is an uphill battle it may ultimately be up to the online community to do its own policing, using the flag option craigslist provides.
“Probably the best case scenario is that a warning goes out to people that you could be putting yourself in a very dangerous situation by responding to one of these ads,” Bates said.
Vice unit officers say they will investigate any complaints they receive. They ask any victims of these ads to contact Oklahoma City Police.
THE DIGITAL STROLL
A 22-year-old white woman logs into her boss’s web page and updates her profile with a new picture, her availability details, and coded language for how much her services cost.
Within minutes, a client replies to her ad and she is engaged in an instant messaging conversation where she tells him the time, hotel, and room number where he can find her. Half an hour later, there is a knock at her door. She doesn’t need to take one step on the street; the business comes directly to her.
The old-school marketing methods—ads in the phone book, local newspapers, alternative lifestyle publications, and business cards—are still in use, but they are ceding more and more ground to online mediums. As is being physically present at brick-and-mortar businesses or on streets known for prostitution, often referred to as “the stroll.”
Forty-nine percent of pimps reported using Internet ads to attract business. Online classifieds, social media vehicles, discussion boards, chat rooms, dating websites, and custom web pages are commonly used to attract and book new business.
The spatial limitations that once governed the underground commercial sex economy are gone. Now people who once would not have ventured to their city’s stroll in search of commercial sex are able to anonymously connect with sex workers. Often the new clientele are higher-paying customers.
The “Internet is crushing [the stroll],” said one pimp. “I break every bitch in with the [stroll]. However, I don’t really play the [stroll] as much, since the Internet is way more lucrative.”
ROLLING THE DICE
Police talk to two young women before arresting them for prostitution in Dallas. The young woman second from left turned out to be underage at the time of her arrest. In a city known as a national hotbed for prostitution, a special Dallas police unit is trying new approaches to identify, reach, and assist underage girls being lured into the street life. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Moving marketing from the street to the information superhighway also helps pimps and sex workers better manage the physical risks of the business.
“Over the years, right, the Internet became an easier way to get money without having to take so many chances as far as injury, or assholes outside,” said one pimp. “You never know what happens at night. A lot of creeps come out.”
About 18 percent of pimps said their greatest fear was for their personal safety.
“Going in blind when those tricks was threatening them, that was the riskiest,” said another pimp. “I never knew what was on they mind when I had to go deal with them.”
Employee safety was a concern cited by only 6 percent of pimps. They were worried that their employees would be raped, killed, arrested, or infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
To guard against physical violence, 16 percent of pimps said they carried weapons on the job, and 22 percent said their employees were armed.
“Yes. Girl, I’ve got stab wounds all over me. I’ve been stabbed in my head, all up my legs, in my kidney. I’ve been raped about 40 or 50 times. So I’ve been through all this stuff… ’cause a lot of times people will drive way out somewhere where you don’t know where you’re at. And I’ve had people—I’ve had to jump out of the car going on the freeway before to get out.”
But while moving more of the business online put many pimps at ease about some of the physical risks, it introduces new legal threats for pimps, sex workers, and clients.
With every text, email, chat message, or other online communication sent between pimps, employees, and customers, a new opportunity arises for police to document transactions in the underground commercial sex economy. More business online makes evidence easier to collect.
Nearly 21 percent of the pimps interviewed said their greatest fear was being arrested and prosecuted.
With few exceptions, respondents felt that law enforcement efforts surrounding pimping and sex trafficking have increased in recent years.
Pimps, cognizant of the legal risks of conducting business online, frequently opt to communicate with employees in coded language, through face-to-face meetings, walkie talkies, prepaid cell phones, or text messages.
To guard against sting operations, pimps encourage employees to ask clients if they are police, scrutinize physical appearance and body language, and push johns to cross lines they know police are not lawfully allowed to cross.
For some of the more risk-averse and astute pimps, a critical practice is to call the client and look for red flags that he might be law enforcement. Common indicators are incoming calls from hotels or return phone numbers that don’t have a matching voicemail greeting set up, they said.
“It all boils down to the appointment setter putting up the first line of defense,” said one pimp. “Police can’t call you to a residence. That’s entrapment.”
Individuals are forced to prostitute on the streets and in hotels in order to meet nightly quotas and turn money over to their traffickers.
Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others.
Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human trafficking still exists today throughout the United States and globally when traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control other people for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex or forcing them to provide labor services against their will. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to trap victims in horrific situations every day in America. All trafficking victims share one essential experience – the loss of freedom.
In the United States, sex trafficking commonly occurs in online escort services, residential brothels, brothels disguised as massage businesses or spas, and in street prostitution. Labor trafficking has been found in domestic servitude situations, as well as sales crews, large farms, restaurants, carnivals, and more.
There are two primary factors driving the spread of human trafficking: high profits and low risk. Like drug and arms trafficking, human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand. Every year, traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world, including here in the United States.
Learn more about human trafficking at www.traffickingresourcecenter.org.
The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, including 5.5 million children. 55% are women and girls.
In 2013, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris, received multiple reports of human trafficking cases in all 50 states and D.C. Find more hotline statistics here.
The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. With 100,000 children estimated to be in the sex trade in the United States each year, it is clear that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.[MF2]
Victims are frequently lured by false promises of a lucrative job, stability, education, or a loving relationship. In the U.S., victims can be men or women, adults or children, foreign nationals or U.S. citizens. While they share the trait of vulnerability, victims have diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, varied levels of education, and may be documented or undocumented.
As defined under U.S. law, victims of human trafficking can be divided into three populations:
Children under age 18 induced into commercial sex.
Adults aged 18 or over induced into commercial sex through force, fraud, or coercion.
Children and adults induced to perform labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion.
While human trafficking spans all demographics, there are some circumstances or vulnerabilities that lead to a higher susceptibility to victimization and human trafficking. Runaway and homeless youth, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war or conflict, or social discrimination are frequently targeted by traffickers. Foreign nationals who have paid large recruitment and travel fees to labor recruiters, often become highly indebted to the recruiters and traffickers. Traffickers control and manipulate these individuals by leveraging the non-portability of many work visas as well as the victims’ lack of familiarity with surroundings, laws and rights, language fluency, and cultural understanding.
Victims face many challenges in accessing help. Their traffickers may confiscate their identification and money. They may not speak English. They may not know where they are, because they have been moved frequently. They are often not allowed to communicate with family or friends. And they may have trouble trusting others, due to their traffickers’ manipulation and control tactics.
Traffickers lure and ensnare people into forced labor and sex trafficking by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Human traffickers recruit, transport, harbor, obtain, and exploit victims – often using force, threats, lies, or other psychological coercion. Traffickers promise a high-paying job, a loving relationship, or new and exciting opportunities. In other cases, they may kidnap victims or use physical violence to control them.
Often the traffickers and their victims share the same national, ethnic, or cultural background, allowing the trafficker to better understand and exploit the vulnerabilities of their victims.
Traffickers can be lone individuals or extensive criminal networks. Pimps, gangs, family members, labor brokers, employers of domestic servants, small business owners, and large factory owners have all been found guilty of human trafficking. Their common thread is a willingness to exploit other human beings for profit.