This week’s post is a guest post from our group leader about an encounter she had with a perpetrator of human trafficking. It’s a story she shared with us at our last meeting, and it goes to show how human trafficking really is happening all around us. It’s often promoted by ordinary looking people and happening right under our noses. It’s also terribly misunderstood, with the victims being punished instead of rescued.
Just recently human trafficking hit home again when news of a Raleigh police officer soliciting a 17-year old for prostitution hit the news (see www.wral.com/news/local/story/10740979). This story struck me personally, as I had met the officer in recent months. The setting? An anti-human trafficking conference. Shocking? Sadly, it shouldn’t be. Those who will sexually harm the youth of today will stop at nothing to get access to them, and learn the strategies of those who are trying to help them so they can be at least one step ahead. At the conference, I had a long conversation with this police officer. We discussed what was happening in the Raleigh area regarding sex trafficking, and how the group I was a part of could help the police force. After learning he had solicited a minor for prostitution, I felt betrayed. I felt angry. I wondered how anyone could have the audacity to come and violate the training of people who were working against this hideous crime. But he did; whatever his intentions, he came.
As my anger subsided, my feelings turned to sadness for him. How does one go from being a defender of the law to one who seeks out the services of a prostitute? There must be a void in this man’s life. That makes me feel sorry for him, and I truly hope he will be helped and stop inflicting pain on young women. Jesus is the only one I know who can meet this type of need.
The other point of this story that was amazing to me was the lack of understanding surrounding the 17-year old. Initially when the story broke, the girl’s name, address and picture were posted online. The justification for this was that she was charged as an adult. This was appalling to me, as it showed the lack of knowledge of federal laws (known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act), which state that sex trafficking is when a commercial sex act is performed by someone who has not reached the age of 18. This girl is a victim, and she was being treated as a criminal! How can that happen?! While she should be receiving care and protection, she was being victimized again by the system that is supposed to look out for her rights. What will it take before the public servants in our state and country understand what human trafficking is, and how to look out for those who are under their nose crying out for someone to pay attention?
This is why one of the major issues the Summit AHT Group wants to address is education. Initially we wanted to focus on middle and high schools, but anywhere God will open a door, we would love to come and speak to anyone who has ears to hear. Lord, please open doors so we can prevent future issues like happened to this one 17-year old.