Human Trafficking is on the Rise and We Examine the Impact in MississippiBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 27 Mar 2013 05:36pm |
Sex and labor slavery, the two components of human trafficking are making huge inroads in Mississippi. Efforts are being made to examine what impact human trafficking is having on the state and what is being done to stop it.
Over the past two years Susie Harvill, Founder of Advocates for Freedom says her group has helped 92 victims in Mississippi escape the snares of sex trafficking. One of the victims was a young girl who was sold by her mother to a drug dealer when she was just three years old.
"And he taught her what she needed to know and the rest of the day the little girl stayed in a dark closet. Soon he was bringing his friends over and charging his friends and they were using the little girl. She was never put in school so no truant officer or no school principle ever looked for this little girl 'cause they didnt know that she needed to be in school."
Human trafficking is estimated to be a $35 billion dollar industry in the U.S. But Betty Spencer with the Mississippi Center for Police and Sheriffs, says the illegal trade which includes forced prostitution is occurring more frequently in shopping malls, playgrounds or other places where where young people congregate. She says perpetrators are luring a growing number of unsuspecting Mississippi teens into becoming victims by using a few simple words of flattery.
"You are so beautiful so why don't you come with me because I have a friend who has a modeling business. And so the child is so flattered so they say oh sure I would love to do that. Then they take them away, repeatedly rape them and drug them. Then they say your family is not going to want you again they know what you are and you belong to me."
Bill Chandler with the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance says a number of guest workers are also falling victim to human trafficking through slave labor.
"From jobs that pay very little and because there's a lack of status they could be deported and their families are depending on that money. So in essence the situation that we have now contributes to gross human trafficking as well as exploitation."
A bill is pending in the Mississippi legislature that would tighten laws against human trafficking. If passed those found guilty could soon face a minimum of five years in prison and up to 500 thousand dollars in fines.
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