The United States is again ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking. According to a recent report by the State Department, the top three nations for human trafficking in 2018 were the United States, Mexico and the Philippines. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered the Trafficking in Persons report to document human trafficking in the year prior, and highlights the growing focus that government agencies and non-profit organizations have dedicated to stopping human trafficking. The Department of Justice (DOJ) provided more than $31 million for 45 victim service providers that offered services to trafficking survivors across the country.
The DOJ only provided $16 million to 18 organizations in 2017, according to the report. The industry is fuelled by an unceasing demand. It’s here that officers focus their enforcement actions and it’s where advocates focus their education efforts to end the illicit trade. “We have a major issue here in the United States” Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), said. “The United States is the No. 1 consumer of sex worldwide. So we are driving the demand as a society” Rogers said. In 2018, the DOJ began 230 federal human trafficking prosecutions, a drop from 282 in 2017. Federal convictions rose from 499 in 2017 to 526 in 2018.
More than 70% of the cases resulted in jail sentences of more than five years, according to the report. Rogers said “There are tremendous numbers of kids that are being sold as sex slaves today in America. These are American born kids, 50% to 60% of them coming out of the foster care industry.” This assertion is confirmed by the report, which found that children in foster care, homeless youth, undocumented immigrant children and those with substance abuse problems were especially at risk to fall into the human trafficking trap. Rogers says that because the demand is so great in the U.S., traffickers are filling that demand with an increased supply of forced sex workers.
“The demand in the United States is a global one,” he said. “We have men traveling the globe to go to places like East Asia to purchase sex with kids. The demand is so great that the supply has needed to be filled from the United States.” According to a Department of Health report, over 300,000 American youth are considered at risk of sexual exploitation. Brook Bello, founder of anti-trafficking organization More To Life, said “We work with victims that are 3 and up. The average victim that we work with, that’s over 18, started being raped at three. Eighty five per cent of victims trafficked in the United States, are from the United States.”
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