2.23.2009

Good News

I read today that the FBI rescued nearly 50 children who had been trafficked into prostitution across the country.
The FBI has rescued 48 suspected teenage prostitutes, some as young as 13 years old, in a nationwide sweep to remove kids from the illegal sex trade and punish their accused pimps.

Over a three-night initiative called Operation Cross Country, federal agents working with local law enforcement also arrested more than 571 suspects on a variety of federal and state prostitution-related charges, the bureau said.

The teenage prostitutes found in the investigation ranged in age from 13 to 17.

"We may not be able to return their innocence but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence," said FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Thankfully, US law has caught up to the reality that thousands of children are trafficked into sex slavery each year. During my ministry experience in New Jersey last year, I attended some of the meetings of the local human trafficking task force. I remember at one meeting the representative of the FBI saying that it's been a tough paradigm shift of sorts for some of the older officers. To them, a prostitute is a criminal, but under today's federal law, a child prostitute is a victim of trafficking.

It's hard for Americans to realize that human trafficking is a reality not only in Indonesia or Russia or the Ivory Coast, but in Seattle and New York and Dallas. The clothes you are wearing made by slave labor. The chocolate you are eating may come from cocoa beans harvested by child slaves in West Africa. And that woman you see late at night on the street corner may very well have started out as a child trafficked into sex slavery.

Please join me in praying for the victims of trafficking who are still enslaved, for the survivors who are rebuilding their lives, for those who are working to end trafficking and for conversion of heart for the traffickers themselves.

To hear a first hand account of a child victim of trafficking, click here. (Note - it is a grim story, but listen all the way through for a hopeful ending).

1 comment:

Liz said...

Hello-
I wholeheartedly agree that it's time that we face the reality of slavery in our world today. And it's encouraging that the feds are putting their money where there mouth is.

One thing I'm worried about- Operation Cross Country managed to round up a relatively small number of trafficked youth. A handful of pimps and customers were also arrested. But the vast majority of the people arrested by the FBI were adult sex workers. And we don't know how many (if any) of these adults were trafficked and how many were in the trade of their own volition.

To be honest, the operation seemed less than effective if the goal is to reach out into these networks and stop trafficking. Few of the drivers of the sex slavery (operators, clients, traffickers) were penalized whereas an inordinate amount of adult sex workers and/or trafficked people are now facing felony charges.

I'm a bit of a lurker, but I've been worrying over the implications of Operation Cross Country for a while and thought I'd try pulling my thoughts together here. Thanks!