Published on
June 7, 2011

This past Monday at my Gateway College Discussion Group we talked about sex. More specifically Eric Bryant raised questions on what the world views are on sex as well as how they perceive what the bible says about sex. Later he asked what are the consequences of the world's view.

I've long been heartbroken towards the victims of sex trafficking and honour killings. I've told myself time and time again that once I have the means I'm going to do everything in my power to support the abolishment of these practices. Whether it's money, setting up shelters, supporting organizations which fight against sex trafficking/child slavery, or dropping everything in my life to find a way to fight it myself - I want to do my part to help these victims.

So when Eric raised this question it was this trade that came specifically to mind. The evils that we deem to be so monstrous and unforgiving are the direct results of the way men and women view sex in this modern age. Sexual immorality (or casual sex). Pornography. Lustful thoughts. Pop culture's wide acceptance of sex as something to be encouraged or even necessary in relationships, empowering, as opposed to being a gift from God and an act of service towards one's spouse. These are all the seeds that have grown inside the individuals who conduct the sex trafficking business.

I didn't bring this up because it was just too much for our small group discussion; which was being steered a different direction. Our main point was to outline what the bible does say about sex, how it's encouraged and considered a very good thing, when used in the proper context that God intended. I could go on about this, but what I like about having a blog is that the things I have to refrain from in public conversation I can sometimes bring up here in it's own topic.

I read today an article called Sex Trafficking of Americans on Vanity Fair. It brings to light one of the common misconceptions about sex trafficking: that it happens in other countries far from us. It's a long read that focuses on very specific stories of some victims, those that rescued them, as well as the pimps that enslaved them. Regardless it's a comprehensive micro-level glance of the sex trafficking industry domestically as well as an introduction to the business as a whole. Below are a few excerpts I've decided to include:

“Johns don’t understand what they’re contributing to. It never occurs to them that the woman who is smiling is being abused. They really don’t know what’s going on—and they don’t care.”

“a common theme with every victim is that they came from a dysfunctional home with no positive male role model.” If there was poverty of any kind, it was of the emotional variety. The men trafficking them also cut right across ethnic lines—Paris and Forbes are black; Kazimierz Sulewski (whose hideout was a suburban McMansion) is Polish; Ronald Martinez has a Hispanic surname; Christopher Fanning is white.

For victim advocates, saying that trafficking in America isn’t a problem is akin to J. Edgar Hoover saying the Mafia doesn’t exist. Melissa Farley believes “we’re still in the Dark Ages with trafficking because, unlike incest, rape, and domestic battering, trafficking generates massive revenues—$32 billion a year worldwide.”

It emerged, during the now nearly two-year-long investigation, that a number of the girls Paris and Forbes had “turned out” had been minors as young as 14. But until the task force had Andrew Kline’s input, Scates and McKee had not recognized all of them as such. “In Connecticut,” Scates explains, “the age of consent is 16. But according to the federal trafficking laws, a minor is anyone under 18.”

“The most invigorating part of the case,” McKee says, “was when we turned up Minors A, B, and C,” three former friends who had been ninth-graders together at East Hartford High School when Paris and Forbes ensnared them. “Paris would take girls out of school during lunchtime, have them do calls, and bring them back,” Scates says. “He knew how to read each girl—this one likes to party, that one needs a job, this one wants drugs. He told them he could get them into clubs. Later, we showed the johns high-school-yearbook pictures of these girls as they had looked concurrently, as freshman. The guys were shocked.”

On June 12, Paris testified on his own behalf. According to him, he hired girls to go out on dates with men, for “companionship” only, and if sexual acts took place in the course of these trysts, then it was consensual and without his sanction. “These guys want women who are going to sit there and conversate [sic],” he protested. “Prostitution or sex was not part of the deal.” He claimed he never raped anybody or supplied any drugs—the very suggestion of such activities “makes my skin crawl,” he said. Paris also denied knowing that any of the minors were under-age, in spite of the fact that they fretted about homework, carried false IDs, and were unable to buy their own cigarettes. One victim could get her tattoo only if “Toni” accompanied her, claiming to be a guardian. Paris also shared with the assembled men and women the intimate anatomical fact that as a “big guy … I need big condoms.” He advanced the idea that he “treated [Alicia and Gwen] better than everybody else” and “without me [Alicia] would have been living under a bridge.” Scates says, “His attitude was ‘I was their Jesus and their savior, their knight in shining armor. I gave them food and shelter.’ And he believes it.”

“It’s hard,” Caroline says. “I make peanuts—in a week less than I used to earn in a day. I have lifelong mental scarring, and flashbacks of bad episodes. I went to a psychiatrist and told her my whole story, and she said, ‘Don’t you think you did anything wrong? I can’t help you—you have too many problems.’ During my day-to-day routine, I wonder all the time, Do people know? Can they tell? Is it showing?”

Krishna Patel, Dr. Sharon Cooper, Sergeant Chris McKee, and Detective Scates all agree that the single greatest frustration of rescuing trafficked girls is finding a safe haven for them. The Rebecca Project for Human Rights estimates that there are only 200 residential beds dedicated to this purpose in the entire country, 13 of them atgems. (New York State’s Safe Harbor Act and Illinois’s 2010 Safe Children Act will try to rectify this shortage, at least for cooperative juvenile victims.) Typically, law enforcement will, as a stopgap, lodge girls in motels, “exactly the scenes of their traumas,” Scates notes. The second-hardest part is finding them treatment. “There are experts in rape, addiction, sexual abuse, battering, but not in counseling trafficking victims who suffer from all these problems combined,” Scates says.

In mild, measured tones, the judge censured Forbes for having “lured these vulnerable young women into his care and then forced them to prostitute themselves. They suffered unspeakable acts.… On many days, they were forced to have as many as seven appointments with men they did not know, and often were not even paid by Mr. Forbes. He physically abused these girls and forced himself on them sexually. When they tried to leave …, he locked them in their room. He withheld heroin from them and beat them. This was a world of terror for these young girls, and Mr. Forbes did so much to create that world. He only released them when he sold them, like animals, to Mr. Paris. These girls lost many precious things that other young people treasure during their teenage years, and Mr. Forbes was largely responsible. This has been a day,” he concluded, “long in coming.”

It’s so big, this industry, it’s everywhere. Strip clubs, pornography, the street, the hotel—for us, it all amounts to the same revolting thing.” Natalie, the gems girl, says, “Prostitution and pimping—it’s never going to stop. Tricks—they should start from there. If no one’s buying girls, then the pimps can’t make money.”

Mattias is an actor, writer, filmmaker, and editor currently living in Los Angeles, CA. He often writes about his observations about life, the human condition, spirituality, and relationships. He also enjoys writing about movies, pop culture, formula one, and current events. Often these writings are 'initial thoughts' and un-edited, as authentic as possible, and should be considered opinions. If you're interested in commenting on his work, or continuing the conversation, you should consider following him on Twitter or share an article on social media, where he would love to engage even further. Consider subscribing via RSS for more.