Human Trafficking: A Crime Against Humanity
Greg Ferency / SWAT Digest
A ten-year old girl cowers in the corner of a dirty dark room. Standing in front of her is a full-grown man. It is not her father, brother or friend. He is not there to punish her for a wrongful act or comfort her in a time of crisis. He is there to commit an act against her that few of us as defenders, citizens or even members of the human race can imagine. He is there to have sex with her. Maybe not even sex alone, but also to commit other brutalities such as beatings and acts only a monster could imagine.
This is human trafficking at its core, sexual gratification of beasts at the expense of everything we hold dear to our hearts… children. The trafficking of humans is the third most profitable illegal business behind the illicit trade of narcotics and weapons (human trafficking is quickly catching up to weapons). Over 27 million people are ensnared in what we could call “modern day slavery”. Some are used for sexual exploitation and others are a pool for slave labor. Some are kidnapped off the street… others are sold into this life by their families. Experts estimate that within that 27 million people 800,000 to 900,000 are transported across international borders. Imagine 27 million people. That is slightly less that the entire population of California. Comparing the transportation 900,000 people across international borders is comparable to transporting the entire city of Indianapolis to other countries in a clandestine manner…. all to become sex or labor slaves (in most cases of border crossing – sex). An even more startling statistic is that 50% of these gentle souls are children.
The motivation on the trafficker’s part here like most things is money. Profits are quick and easy with minimal up front cash and unlike narcotics the product (slave) can be used over and over. Motivation on the customer’s part is obvious… sexual gratification and fantasy provided with minimal exposure and risk.
The market of human trafficking can be so obscene that young girls can have their virginity specifically sold to a client. This absolutely does not mean that the girl needs to be physically capable of having sex without physical harm. These girls can often be as young as five years old, especially in the Southeast and Southwest Asian areas of the world. With the nature of the physical injuries that are predictable for these young girls comes the absolute increased chance of catching HIV and other diseases, not to mention scarring and other irreversible damage.
Who is a human trafficker? What kind of person does this? The answer can vary. Many girls are conned or forcibly taken into this industry out of Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet Republics (as well as Eastern Europe). Much of this activity can be traced back to some sort of organized crime network. Odds are that they already have trafficking / smuggling routes and techniques. The transference into the trafficking of people would be rather easy from a logistical point of view and it would probably safe to say they have little regard from the human aspect of things.
The words organized crime (OC) is a broad concept. When people hear the word Russian mob they automatically think of bosses running the group from a café in Moscow. Obviously we are comparing them to what we know and have seen in movies regarding our own mafia in the United States. In actuality the concept of the Russian mob can mean numerous different groups that operate in the former Soviet Republics and its satellites. This includes other elements within Russia like the Chechen OC groups(s), which is as brutal as their terrorist counterparts and who without a doubt work with them (the terrorists) when it is financially beneficial.
Other trafficking groups can also be a close group of relatives, a literal family who specializes in the trafficking of humans. They may operate on a smaller scale, but if they become successful they can obviously grow and become surgical in their operations. The bottom line is that they still need to get the victims from one place to another and get them “working” which may require the assistance of others from outside the original core. All and all when you add up the total number of “relative” families committing this type of crime they may be responsible for a significant number of trafficking victims being placed into the hell they are about to experience.
Some types of trafficking groups can operate in a decentralized manner. It can be efficient form of operating. Each sub-group can specialize in a direct element of the market. One group may acquire the girls in whatever manner they are good at. Whether it is the con or kidnapping they supply the supply of the trafficking market. Another group will conduct the transportation of the girls from one location to another. This group delivers them to the retailers who market the girls to the consumer (for lack of a better phrase). Hierarchy of this human pipeline may be complex or very limited. Putting this in print in no way can reconstruct the emotions as well as the physical and mental damage that is done during this process.
Where these girls go depends on the pipeline connections of whoever cons or kidnaps them. Some end up in Western and Eastern Europe. Kosovo is a teeming with young girls bonded into the sex slave trade. It is probably safe to say that the least lucky ones are flown to Egypt then transported across the Sinai desert to Middle Eastern countries, including Israel. They are “broken” during the trip across the desert and may not be the only contraband on the trip. The traffickers may also be transporting narcotics and weapons making their trip even more dangerous. In most cases the transporters are Bedouin tribesmen who have already established routes across international borders, as they are not usually limited in their concept of countries and invisible lines separating them.
Organized crime groups have a very specific and brutal way of handling their captives. They leave little to chance and adhere to a fairly regimented and violent code of conduct. First they must obtain the “product” (victim). Some are conned into coming willing with the promise of high paying jobs in “better” parts of the world. These jobs can consist of everything from dancer to maid or waitress… just to name a few. The future victims willing go with their captors and when the situation presents itself they are held and the details of their future are made known to them.
Many of these girls in Eastern Europe are simply kidnapped off of the street. They go “poof”. This operation can be nothing more than grabbing a girl as she is walking down the street… throwing her in a van and driving away. Odds are she was marked and habits studied prior to the abduction. Like most organized groups, kidnappers acting on behalf or part of the traffickers do their homework and become pros at their particular skill. Runaways also offer a large pool of potential victims for the traffickers.
After a girl is conned or kidnapped her nightmare is just beginning. It is quite normal to take these girls to a “breaking house” where they are continuously raped and beaten. This serves two important purposes to the traffickers… to break them of their will as well as force the fact that they are at the mercy of the traffickers and to train them on how to have sex. The fact that they have designated houses for this shows the organizational aspects of this particular type of crime. After the breaking period the accepted and / or docile ones are shipped to designated areas to “work”. Girls that remain hostile, uncooperative and a danger to the operation stay for more of the same or can very well be killed.
The girls who go on through the pipeline are sent into a life of misery and poverty. They live in tiny rooms where they pleasure their clients… up to 15+ per day and then forced to sleep on the same bed. They do this until they become so unhealthy that they are of no longer any use to the “bosses”. Then they are then simply thrown out onto the street or worse. By this time they are ravished with disease, malnourishment as well as physical and mental problems. Families back home may reject them depending on the culture and they may have minimal options. The suicide rate is high and most relief available may be in the form of non-governmental agencies that specialize in helping these victims. These relief agencies do tremendous and even dangerous work. However, they can quickly be overwhelmed. In the end the traffickers simply replace her with another one and there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of victims. The process simply starts over again.
Human trafficking for the purposes of sex is a – deliver upon demand business. In comparison to narcotics trafficking, dealers would be out of business if the demand were not there. However, we can be a brutal species and demand is there. The human mind is the most complex organ belonging to any species on earth. But in the complexity lies the perversions of enslaving others for profit and immediate gratification of sexual impulses and fantasies. Caught between these two sadistic entities are the lives of thousands of young girls and boys (as well as adults).
For more information on human trafficking go to www.ijm.org (International Justice Mission)
VP / Editor