New Study: Most Pimps Were Trafficked, Abused As Children

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A new research study from the DePaul College of Law sheds light on a rarely examined subject: pimps. Researchers interviewed 25 pimps from the Chicago area, and what they found was surprising. Most of the pimps they spoke with were both trafficked into the sex industry as children and trafficked kids themselves as pimps, forming a vicious cycle of exploitation that can span generations.

Researchers Brenda Myers-Powell and Jody Raphael issued a 91 question survey to 25 pimps in the Chicago area. The results, while imperfect by the authors' own admission, shed some light on how pimps start pimping, how many women they generally control, and what the modern pimping industry looks like. The interviews included both men and women and people from all races. The results are surprising.

Of the pimps interviewed, 76% were sexually abused as children and 68% were sold for sex themselves before pimping. Every single one of the women interviewed were in the commercial sex industry before pimping. The average age of onset into commercial sex was 15, making the majority of pimps interviewed former child sex trafficking victims. Most of them also reported physical abuse, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse in their home while growing up. Nearly half ran away from those abuses, directly contributing to their entry into the commercial sex industry.

But the news wasn't all sympathetic. The pimps in the study certainly weren't struggling to make ends meet; they earned between $150,000 and $500,000 a year. To do this, they sold up to 30 women at a given time. To keep their "inventory" fresh, they were constantly rotating women out and looking for new faces and bodies to bring in. And for most of the pimps, that meant finding what the buyers wanted -- younger and younger girls. They shared specific strategies for targeting young, vulnerable girls and runaways. Some talked about feeding girls liquor and drugs until they became compliant. Over half of them took all the earnings from at least some of the girls and women they controlled.

This study demonstrates that exploitation in the commercial sex industry is cyclical and sometimes multi-generational, just like domestic violence or child abuse. Therefore, providing care to both male and female victims of child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation not only fulfills an ethical duty to those victims, it will help stop the cycle of exploitation and prevent the next generation of victims from becoming pimps.


‘Brothels on wheels’ in New York City

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16 May 2012 Last updated at 15:17 GMT

Many trafficking victims are smuggled from Mexico to New York City, where they are made to work 12-hour shifts, servicing 25-30 men a day.

Some women live in brothels, only leaving when their pimps move them to a new location.

The National Trafficking Resource Center estimates each brothel makes on average $5,250 a week per woman.

Other women have their services advertised on what are called "chica cards." They are delivered to a customer's house by a driver.

Frequently the women are assaulted by their pimps and their customers.

Produced by the BBC's Laura Trevelyan and David Botti


Get to know Virginia Isaías’s story

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Virginia Isaías during a conference

Virginia Isaías is an American citizen, born in Mexico, and a kidnap victim and survivor of human trafficking.

She grew up in the heart of a violent home, and witnessing the constant abuse of her mother resulted in a difficult childhood for her. When she was 15-years old her father arranged for her to get married without her consent, which only brought her misery and woes.

During her life she went through multiple abuses, the culture of "keeping silent" and keeping a secret all the abuses she went through.

Even after all this she kept moving forward, until a trip she took to Guadalajara with her 6-month old daughter that gave her life a 180 degrees turn.

They were kidnapped and taken to the capital of that country and from there to Oaxaca and from there to Chiapas in which later on she was sold into prostitution for three months.

She was tortured multiple ways and beat up until she was unconscious. She attempted to escape but was recaptured and severely tortured for her attempts at liberty. Fortunately for her, Virginia was successful on her third attempt and she was able to raise $25,000.00 dollars to buy her own daughter’s freedom to escape from their captors.

Even after all the horrors she went through Virginia has now overcome many of her traumas and has taken care of her children. She has brought an extraordinary service from more than 4 years to her community.

She works arduously in helping women who have suffered ill treatment as the ones she suffered.

She has confronted enormous challenges and now she wants to awaken the world's consciousness regarding this human calamity. She is the Founder of “Survivors of Human Trafficking Foundation” whose Vision is: A world without violence, slavery, exploitation, and survivors of human trafficking living dignified, happy self-fulfilling lives.


Californians Target Human Trafficking

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LOS ANGELES - A recent U.S. State Department report says 27 million people worldwide are subject to forced labor and sexual slavery.  A major effort is under way in California to fight the problem.

Virginia Isaias was forced to marry at 15 in her native Mexico, and later kidnapped with her six-year-old daughter and forced into prostitution.  Her story is told in a documentary now being produced, called Sands of Silence.

Isaias herself is now an anti-trafficking activist who talks about the cost of human trafficking to groups such as this one, in Santa Ana, California.

"They take your baby and give it to another woman and they give another woman's baby to you. So a mother is less likely to flee.  They also threaten you and have people watching over you," said Isaias.

IsaIas escaped and paid a ransom for her child.  Her story is all too common, says filmmaker Chelo Alvarez-Stehle.

"Because of globalization, or migration, that pushes people to move from one country to another and they become vulnerable to traffickers," said Alvarez-Stehle.

Alvarez-Stehle has also created an online game to educate young people on the problem.

United Nations figures show that victims of trafficking are mostly young, and 80 percent are subject to sexual exploitation.  Twenty percent are subject to forced labor, and one in five victims is a child.

Officials in Los Angeles recently announced an educational program to alert drivers and bus riders to the problem of sexual trafficking of young people.  L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca says they are victims, not criminals.

"There are hundreds and hundreds and perhaps thousands of young women, young girls under the age of 18, who are engaged in prostitution for pay, and the man that's handling this prostitution of bondage is someone that we're really going after, the pimps," said Baca.

A measure on the November election ballot in California would increase penalties for traffickers, provide help for trafficking victims and require convicted sex offenders to disclose their Internet identities.  Chris Kelly, the man behind the drive, is a former executive with the Internet site, Facebook.

"We want to make sure that the worst of the worst, the convicted sex offenders, that Facebook and other online sites - Craigslist and Backpage and whoever else - have the means to track them and basically say, 'You're not going to be able to ply your trade in this online environment,'" said Kelly.

Virginia Isaias says trafficking survivors must reclaim their dignity.

"It doesn't matter what happened or what you are living through, what matters are your values and your strength. No one can take that away from you because you were born free," said Isaias.

Isaias wants others to know there is hope for trafficking victims.


FBI saves 79 kids held as sex slaves in US

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The FBI, working alongside state and local authorities across the U.S., rescued 79 minors being held as sex slaves, the agency announced Monday.

The minors – two of whom were boys, the rest girls – were taken from 57 different cities during “Operation Cross Country” raids on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The youngest kid was 13, while another told of being held as a sex slave since age 11, said Kevin Perkins, the head of the FBI’s criminal division.

Pimps were luring the kids through social media, targeting ones who came from “dysfunctional” families and offering them gifts, Perkins told Fox News.

If the minors tried to leave the operation, the pimps would threaten them and tell them their parents would be killed.

"They basically go into survival mode,” Perkins said, explaining how the kids would do anything to eat.

“Operation Cross Country” began in 2008, with the latest roundup of sex slaves the biggest yet, FBI spokesman Mike Kortan said.


NOT FOR SALE: End Human Trafficking and Slavery

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The visual narrative, an ornate blend of hand and shadow puppetry, presents a stark tale of lost youth, duplicity, exploitation, and bittersweet memory. The tone is wonderfully captured in the somber, grayscale imagery, and the story is magnificently crafted by hands, the physical index of the narrator’s forced work (the imagination of the hands assuming a double meaning). It is both pleasurable to watch and genuinely unsettling, leaving an appropriately queasy feeling about human enslavement.

Click on the link to watch the video. Not for sale

Why Human Trafficking Cases are Falling Through the Cracks

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Human trafficking is a big yet commonly overlooked problem in the United States and abroad. Each year, roughly 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders, according to the Department of State, with about 17,500 into the United States. Despite an uptick in laws aimed at addressing this problem, U.S. law enforcement and state prosecutors haven’t identified or prosecuted as many cases as expected given the large number of cases, leaving many to question why. In a recent report, however, experts at the Urban Institute and Northeastern University shed some light on why so many cases seem to be falling through the cracks.

Researchers analyzed 140 closed human trafficking cases, reviewed 530 incident reports of related crimes, and interviewed 166 law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and other criminal justice stakeholders, and found that only 7% of cases resulted in a state or federal sex trafficking charge, 9% in a sex trafficking of a minor charge, and 2% in a labor trafficking charge—even though most of the cases fit the federal definition of human trafficking.

Why? The report offers a few suggestions:

Lack of cooperation from victims: One of the biggest problems police face when investigating human trafficking cases is lack of cooperation from victims. Officers reported that victims’ statements are the most important element of a human trafficking investigation, but victims are often hesitant to provide one for fear of being treated as an offender, which, according to the report, happens frequently. Other victims stay quiet due to fear of retaliation by the trafficker or for lack of an alternative, meaning that they rely on their trafficker for housing and work.

Lack of resources: Local law enforcement officials often have insufficient resources to train, staff, and investigate human trafficking cases, especially patrol officers and other first responders most likely to encounter human trafficking situations. The report also found that a lack of trauma informed interviewing techniques and foreign language capacity slowed down identification of cases.

Lack of legal guidance and precedent: Even if the law enforcement officials are successful in identifying victims, state prosecutors face huge difficulties in pursuing cases. Lack of legal guidance and precedent was continually cited as a major deterrent to prosecuting cases using state human trafficking statutes. Prosecutors who did accept the cases were more likely to prosecute using existing laws that they were more familiar with, often in fear of losing high-profile cases. Prosecutors also faced similar problems with victim cooperation. An overwhelming amount of prosecutors felt that labor trafficking cases should be prosecuted at the federal level, mostly due to the likely undocumented status of the victim.

To help improve the identification, investigation, and prosecution of human trafficking cases, the report lays out a few recommendations:

  • Awareness-raising about the need to prioritize the problem of human trafficking.
  • Creating long-term support for victims, including health and mental health care, education, job training, and secure housing.
  • Providing state-specific training for law enforcement officials, giving information on the state’s human trafficking statutes, best practices, and information about the impact of trauma on victims.
  • Forming units of specialized personnel to handle sex and labor trafficking cases.
  • Creating state-specific toolkits for prosecutors, including information on updated state human trafficking laws, legal strategies, and contact information for local prosecutors who have experience in such cases.

Although the U.S. government continues to take steps to combat human trafficking, more work clearly needs to be done to help victims escape this modern-day slavery and to help prevent future cases of trafficking.



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People are not merchandise. You can't give another wife for FREE if the one you bought ran away.  

Our mission is to erradicate this enormous problem and care for victims of Human Trafficking.

First group of volunteers working in the International Network of Hearts are students from the Universidad Iberoamericana

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The group of students from IBERO Puebla and IBERO Tijuana with the association staff.

Since Monday June 25, for the first time, a group of eight students from Ibero Tijuana and Ibero Puebla are doing their social service with the International Network of Hearts in the cities of Tijuana and San Diego, after signing an agreement.

Ibero Tijuana's students are: Cesar René Vela and Carlos Antonio Cepeda, students of the Bachelor of Business Administration; Alejandro Madrid, Foreign Trade and Customs, and Lilia Montijo Modelevsky, student of the Bachelor of Communication.

From Ibero Puebla, the students are: María Jose Pérez Acopa and Rodrigo Carrillo, Economics students, as well as Enai Ojeda and Ana Karen Juárez, students of the Bachelor of Nutrition and Food Science.

They will be supporting us, from their work areas, with events and projects that the Association has, and in the organizational area and media.

Like them, you are also welcome to support us with your volunteer or with donations for the projects we are working on.

Mexico: Law against people trafficking and reforms to combat crimes against women

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  Mexico City, 13 June 2012. - President Calderón signed the decrees enacting the General Law on the Prevention, Sanction and Eradication of Crimes involving People Trafficking and the reforms to combat crimes against women, child abuse and crimes against human dignity.

In his address, he declared that the decrees were passed within the framework of the national security strategy comprising the three axes which, in addition to including the fight against criminals and the restoration of the social fabric, incorporate the reconstruction of law enforcement institutions and the strengthening of the normative framework. He declared that there is an urgent need to undertake reforms to make the authorities more efficient in the fight against crime. To this end, key legislative reforms have been undertaken regarding penal justice, human rights and injunctions. The decrees passed form part of these efforts.

The president subsequently described the main features of the General Law for the Prevention, Sanction and Eradication of Crimes regarding People Trafficking. He stressed that this is a general law, which closes legal loopholes and obliges the authorities at all levels of government to deal with this issue regardless of the division of skills. In addition, he explained that the new law clearly defines what people trafficking consists of, together with the appropriate sanctions. It regulates the reparation of the damage caused to victims in an integral, adequate, efficacious manner and ensures that the various forms of people trafficking are incorporated into the catalogue of crimes that may be committed by organized crime, by classifying them as serious crimes.

In regard to the reforms to combating crimes against women, the president declared that the crime of femicide has been incorporated into the Federal Penal Code and establishes a sentence of 40 to 60 years of prison for anyone who kills a woman for reasons of gender. He added that since this reform only applies at the federal level, all levels of government must adopt the new legislation. He subsequently reported that the reforms passed specify and increase the sentences for crimes that cause the greatest damage to women such as sexual abuse and rape. A chapter on Crimes against Reproductive Rights and Crimes against People’s Dignity was incorporated into the Federal Penal Code and the powers of the institutions responsible for persecuting these crimes were strengthened, especially those of the SSP, PGR and State Prosecutor’s Offices and progress was achieved in the integral supervision of all crime victims by stipulating in the Federal Penal Code that the reparation of damage must be integral, adequate, efficacious, effective and proportional to the severity of the damage caused and the harm suffered.

The president ended by declaring that the decrees published are a clear step forward in the construction of a safer, fairer and more prosperous country based on the rule of law.

Presidency of the Republic, Mexico (2012, June 13). Law against people trafficking and reforms to combat crimes against women. Retrieved from