Even though National Human Trafficking Awareness Day was on January 11, I still feel that even more people should be talking about this subject on a consistent basis. The total profit generated by the human trafficking industry comes to $32 billion per year. At least 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. On May 22 it was reported that Interpol busted a child sex ring that spanned 20 countries, including the United States. It’s devastating to know that even though these children may have physical survived their ordeal; the mental and emotional trauma will follow them forever.
The Interpol investigation began in October 2010 in New Zealand, when authorities alerted Interpol’s Crimes Against Children team after discovering that such sites and groups as Facebook and Socialgo were being used to exchange significant amounts of “abusive and exploitative pictures.” Through this investigation, Interpol found about 80 groups that “engaged in the display or distribution of previously seen and unseen child sexual abuse images.”
Children are usually between the ages of 11-14 when they are caught up in sex trafficking. Often times these kids are runaways, but that isn’t always the case.
For example, when Sara Kruzan was only 11-years old in California, she met a man named George Gilbert Howard, better known as G.G. For two years, G.G. gained the trust and respect of Sara. The whole time Sara was unknowingly being groomed for a life of prostitution. Once G.G. raped Sara, she was officially on the menu. After three years of beatings and prostituting 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with other girls, Sara delivered one point blank shot to G.G.’s neck and killed him. Even though Sara was abused and beaten for years, she was still sentenced to life in prison. Though former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger finally reduced her sentence to 25 years back in 2010, it’s mine and others’ belief that she should be released being that her circumstances are so unique. With that being said, there is a petition on Change.org in support of Sara’s freedom. Though 11-14 is the average age, many children are forced into prostitution at younger ages, sometimes even as babies.
In 2009, 5-year-old Shaniya Davis was sold as a prostitute by her mother, Antoinette Davis, to a man named Mario Andrette McNeil to cover a drug debt. For the first year of her life, Shaniya lived with her mother. After that, Antoinette felt that Shaniya’s father, Bradley Lockhart, would be able to provide a more stable environment so she sent her to live with him. There were no formal custody arrangements and Shaniya still saw her mother and spent weekends with her. Carey Lockhart-Davis, Bradley’s sister, was like a second mother to Shaniya stating during the Oprah Winfrey interview that, “When he’s [Bradley], Shaniya’s with me.”
On October 2, 2009, Bradley said goodbye to his daughter and left for an out of town contracting job. On October 9, Antoinette called Carey asking for Shaniya to come over. Shaniya loved her mother and loved being with her. As she’d done many times, Carey dropped Shaniya off at her mother’s home. That was the last time Carey saw her alive. On November 13, McNeil turned himself in and police charged him with first degree kidnapping. The next day, police found out about Shaniya being sold to cover her mother’s drug debt. Antoinette was arrested and charged with human trafficking and felony child abuse involving prostitution. Within a few days, Shaniya’s body was found raped and beaten on the side of a North Carolina highway next to deer carcasses. Her cause of death was asphyxiation. Bradley said that he was never aware of any drug problem and the thought of a drug problem never even entered his mind.
Every year, at least 100,000 U.S. children are made prostitute against their will. As I look at my daughter and other children, I can’t help but think how anyone could possibly be attracted to a child. These people don’t just need help, they need Jesus because doing harm to any child is straight evil and I mean that.