This is a guest post by Cameron Diggs. Cameron Diggs is currently a senior at Elisabeth Irwin High School. She has been working for the past year on various projects involving women’s rights, demanding attention to crises that affect women worldwide and advocating for a change in the way the media portrays women and girls.
Whenever we hear the words “human trafficking,” certain images come to mind. Young girls in third-world countries; women being taken from their homes in foreign towns and robbed of their identities; perhaps even cruel, insensitive men raping children and selling them for sex in places that we’ve heard of but have never been to. All of these visions make up the harsh reality of this vicious crime, but what many do not realize is that human trafficking isn’t restricted to places outside of our borders; it isn’t a crime that only affects the impoverished and naïve. Human trafficking is a world-wide issue that has been getting increasingly worse, from the small villages of Punjab, India through the busy streets of Beijing, China and even right here in the United States.
Trafficking has been rampaging through societies around the world for thousands of years but the crime rate for this injustice has been steadily growing throughout the past few decades. Today, the offenders of this horrendous felony disguise themselves as modeling agents, bartenders, owners of massage parlors, or other people in managerial positions who are looking to hire. Once they’ve found their victims, girls ranging in ages 14-22, the traffickers trap and confine these girls into cramped rooms or closed spaces, forcing them to participate in sexual activities with up to 15 men per day and subjecting them to constant physical and emotional abuse.
In response to this repulsive crime, the mock-interview style advocacy video in which I created, entitled “Number One,” explores the horrors of human trafficking and promotes awareness among young women, urging them to recognize the threat that this criminality poses to our society. It is my goal to make, not only girls, but all members of our communities aware of this issue (and realize how close to home it occurs) in order for them to protect themselves from these attacks and reach out to defend others as well – with awareness of this danger comes knowledge, with knowledge comes inspiration, and inspiration makes way for action and change.
It’s crucial for members of our communities to realize that no one looks like a trafficker and that you don’t have to be naïve to fall into a trafficker’s grasp. Human trafficking is a devious crime that hundreds fall victim to every month. In the next year, human trafficking will become the number one crime worldwide. It’s time for all of us to raise awareness, and become more aware ourselves, about the atrocities of this sex trade: we must stop trafficking in its tracks and promote a safer future for girls and women worldwide.
My video is here:
Transcript below the fold.
This post is part of the SPARK blog tour.
SPARK stands for Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge. SPARK is both a Summit and a Movement designed to push back against the increasingly sexualized images of girlhood in the media and create room for whole girls and healthy sexuality. SPARK will engage teen girls to be part of the solution rather than to protect them from the problem.
The SPARK Summit will launch a grassroots movement to support and stand with girls. Today, Friday, October 22nd at Hunter College in New York City, the Summit is a day to speak out, push back on the sexualization of girls, and have fun while igniting a movement for girls’ rights to healthy sexuality. The Summit will give girls between the ages of 14-22 the information and tools they need to become activists, organizers, researchers, policy influencers, and media makers.
The Summit is focused on working with girl leaders and activists to jump start an intergenerational movement. Attendees will be girls (ages 14-22) and those working closely with them. There’s also a virtual Summit so that girls and adults who can’t make it to New York City can participate!
Text: Each year, 14,500 to 17,500 women and children are trafficked within the United States. The average of these victims is 14 years old.
First girl whose identity is concealed: I used to work three jobs to pay all my bills to pay for college. And with one of my jobs, which was selling sunglasses at a mall in Phoenix, a man and a woman came up to me. They looked young, maybe in their twenties. They were well-dressed, too. The man asked if it would be out of place if he said I was pretty, and I was like, no, I mean it was a compliment.
Second girl whose identity is concealed: And then he said that he was a model agent, and that he was looking for some new models in the area. And he asked me if I was interested. I mean, it’s not something I had been wanting to do or anything, but it seemed interesting, and I wouldn’t have to work as much either because I’d be making extra money. So I agreed to meet them at a restaurant after I got off work. There they told me that they were on their way back to their office in California to do some more photo shoots and that they wanted me to go along with them. The man said that I could probably make $1,000 or more, and that I could just try it for three days and see what I thought, and so I went with them.
Third girl whose identity is concealed: The next morning, before we left, they took me to get my hair done and my nails done and my make-up done. It was all really exciting. And then later they started taking pictures of me but they used a cheap disposable camera, and I was a little confused about what was going on, but they said once we got to California I’d be at a photo shoot and they’d be using some really good equipment, and they’d have make-up artists and stuff like that. So I just decided not to worry about it. When we got to California at the airport, they walked up to this car and I was following them, and they just turned around and pushed me in. There were two men already inside. One of them tied up my hands and put tape over my mouth, and told me if I screamed or acted stupid he’d shoot me, so I stayed quiet.
Second girl whose identity is concealed: He goes, “If I were to shoot you right now, where would you want to be shot? In your head or in your back or in your chest?” And then I hear him start messing with his gun. Then he counted to three and pulled the trigger, but I was still alive. I opened my eyes and I just saw him laughing. We drove around for hours, and then the guy who was in the back with me drugged me. I didn’t know where I was or where we were going, and I was just really confused and scared. I remember the car stopping, and then I remember being in some room, and that’s when I heard them say that there was a middle-aged guy in the living room who wanted to take advantage of a 17-year-old girl. The guy walks in and he goes, bend her over, I want to see what I’m working with. And that’s when he started to rape me. Then I see more guys. Four other guys had come into the room, and they all had a turn.
First girl whose identity is concealed: Later that night, the men from the car came back into the room, and they were asking if I was hungry. I told them no. That’s when they put the dog biscuit in my mouth, trying to get me to eat it, but I wouldn’t. They tossed me back into the car, and drove me around to different men, who all forced me to have sex with them. There were about 11 different stops. When we got back to the apartment, they threw me into a small dog kennel and left me there for days. My whole body went numb. The only time they let me out was when there were men waiting for me in the bedroom.
Text: Victims of sex trafficking are often found on the streets or working in establishments that offer commercial sex acts, i.e. brothels, strip clubs, pornography production houses. Such establishments may operate under the guise of massage parlors, escort services, adult bookstores, modeling studios, bars/strip clubs.
By 2010, sex trafficking will be the number one crime worldwide.