Small Group Communication
11 November 2012
Current Events Project: Sex Trafficking in Los Angeles According to her testimony on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Melissa Woodward was fourteen years old when she was sold into the human trafficking industry by a member of her own family. Beaten and raped for the first twenty-four hours, those that were holding her captive wanted her to understand that she was no longer human, but property, merely a thing. The men came in night after night to buy an hour with this young girl. They lived out their fantasies with her, often beating her, leaving her bruised and broken. However, she was not allowed to show it, but was forced to have the bruises covered with makeup and made to press on. Melissa’s escape out of the industry came only with violent flames. A man came in one day wishing to see a young girl burned. Covering her in gasoline, he set fire to her and watched her burn, before leaving her for dead. People must be aware of the where, how, what, and why of the current sex trafficking reality in Los Angeles, along with the knowledge of various organizations that inspire application and change. Unfortunately, Melissa’s story is not a rare one. She is one case in about 300,000 that happen annually in the United States. But as for specifics, where and how does sex trafficking occur? First off, the term sex trafficking needs to be defined. According to an article on CNN.com, “Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It involves one person controlling another and exploiting him or her for work. Like historical slavery, human trafficking is a business that generates billions of dollars a year. But unlike historical slavery, human trafficking is not legal anywhere in the world. Instead of being held by law, victims are trapped physically, psychologically, financially or emotionally by their traffickers” (5 Things to Know CNN). Trafficking is not often thought of as slavery, but the shocking statistics are that in our world today, there are more slaves than ever before (Sex Trafficking in SA). As of 2005, there are an estimated 12.3 million slaves, bringing in approximately 32 billion dollars annually (The Number). Narrowing down those stats to only forced prostitution and trafficking, approximately 2 million children are being sold into this industry, bringing in about 9.5 billion dollars every year (IJM). The US Department of State’s 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report estimated that there are at least 800,000 people trafficked across borders annually, the majority being women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. This does not account for the estimated millions who are trafficked within their own countries” (Human Trafficking Statistics). Shockingly, trafficking is now the third largest source of profits for international organized crime, behind only drugs and guns (U.S. Department of State). Sex trafficking is rampant worldwide. Foreign nations such as Thailand, India, and Africa are known hotspots of trafficking activity, trickery, and kidnappings. However, Los Angeles is also proving to be a big location for sex traffickers. In our cities and neighborhoods, in nail salons, massage parlors, construction site brothels, some clubs, hotels, or even restaurants—essentially any place that normal people go on a daily basis—are often locations of victims and the industry (5 Things to Know CNN). How does this happen? The type of means used in Los Angeles is more of an emotional set of chains of perverted love and forced dependence instead of blatant kidnappings. Many young victims get trapped into a relationship where they are promised love, and their captor then says, “If you love me, then you will do ____ for me.” This begins an endless cycle of debt to the man, as he often holds the fact that he loved her first over her head. The victims often simply want someone to love them, and a pimp is often the only...