By J. Parnell McCarter




Lest we think slavery is a thing of the past in America, John Whitehead brings us the article “America’s Dark Side: Sexual Trafficking of Women”.  It is excerpted below:



America’s Dark Side: Sexual Trafficking of Women
John W. Whitehead


In February 2002, the Plainville, NJ, police raided a house after receiving a tip about illegal aliens operating an underground brothel. What the police found were four Mexican girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who were in this country illegally. However, the young girls were not prostitutes, performing sexual acts for money. Instead, they were, like thousands of other women in this country, sex slaves—captives to the sex traffickers and keepers who control their every move.

What the police discovered astounded them. It was “a squalid, land-based equivalent of a 19th-century slave ship,” writes Peter Landesman in his exhaustive and enlightening feature (“The Girls Next Door,” New York Times Magazine, January 25, 2004), “with rancid, doorless bathrooms; bare, putrid mattresses; and a stash of penicillin, ‘morning after’ pills and misoprostol, an anti-ulcer medication that can induce abortion. The girls were pale, exhausted and malnourished.”

The New Jersey brothel is just one of many stash houses and apartments that form a slave trade operation that stretches across the United States. Many are located in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago, where under-age girls and young women from dozens of countries are trafficked and held captive. Most of them—whether they begin their journeys in Eastern Europe or Latin America—are brought into this country through Mexico. Some have been baited by promises of legitimate jobs or a better life in America. Many have been abducted, while others have been bought from or abandoned by their impoverished families.

This is a barbaric industry whose products are women and young girls. “On both sides of the border, they are rented out for sex for as little as fifteen minutes at a time, dozens of time a day,” writes Landesman. “Sometimes they are sold outright to other traffickers and sex rings…These sex slaves earn no money, there is nothing voluntary about what they do and if they try to escape they are often beaten and sometimes killed.”

The sad fact is that the United States has become a major importer of sex slaves. According to the CIA, between 18,000 and 20,000 women are trafficked annually into America. One expert estimates that there are between 30,000 and 50,000 sex slaves in the United States at any given time.

Landesman, in his research and travels, spoke to various girls who indicated that their captors were psychologically and physically abusive. “Andrea told me that she and the other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was asked to play roles: the therapist patient or the obedient daughter. Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners—toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens—as well as what she called a ‘damage group.’ ‘In the damage group, they can hit you or do anything they want to,’ she explained. ‘Though sex always hurts when you are little, so it’s always violent, everything was much more painful once you were placed in the damage group.’”

What Andrea described next shows just how depraved some portions of American society have become. “They’d get you hungry then to train you” to have oral sex. “They put honey on a man. For the littlest kids, you had to learn not to gag. And they would push things in you so you would open up better. We learned responses. Like if they wanted us to be sultry or sexy or scared. Most of them wanted you scared. When I got older, I’d teach the younger kids how to float away so things didn’t hurt.”

Immigration and customs enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., report that when it comes to sex, the appetites of many Americans have now changed. What was once considered abnormal is now the norm. These agents are tracking a clear spike in the demand for harder-core pornography on the Internet. As one agent noted, “We’ve become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder hit.”

This trend is reflected by the treatment many of the girls receive at the hands of the drug traffickers and the men who purchase them. Landesman interviewed Rosario, a Mexican woman who had been trafficked to New York and held captive for a number of years. She said: “In America, we had ‘special jobs.’ Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder.” Rosario said that she believed younger foreign girls were in demand in the U.S. because of the increased appetite for more aggressive, dangerous sex.

What happens to these girls after the traffickers are finished with them? Typically, a young trafficking victim in the U.S. lasts in the system for two to four years. After that, as one expert on trafficking notes, “she may be killed in the brothel, she may be dumped and deported.”