The Human and Sex Trafficking Epidemic in the U.S. How do we CURE it?

Take a good long look at this photograph and tell me what you see. Image

 

That is a country in crisis. From 2007-2012 there were  64%  in reported, undocumented cases of human and sex trafficking in the United States.

How did we allow this to happen? I mean seriously, I am writing about this subject in my novels so America is armed with information about how deadly this epidemic is to our country and abroad! Do people believe these trafficking victims are not in their neighborhood? Do they think they live under a rock?

REALITY CHECK!

Trafficking victims are from the ages of 7-17. They are recruited in middle schools, high schools, the local malls, arcades, and yes even…nail salons.

WHAAAT?  My manicurist isn’t a trafficking victim….

Are we sure about that? I’ve been a nail technician for over two decades. The new trend to hide a victim and make a fast cash profit, is to open a nail shop.  Each state has their own set of rules and bylaws. Let’s use California as an example and notice the areas of orange all over the state…those are hotbed areas for reported cases. The state board in California inspects their salons once every SEVEN years. I will repeat that. According to the Nevada State Board of Cosmetology, California State Board in 2011 inspects their salons every SEVEN YEARS. Now, let’s add up how many nail shops appear on the corner near your house, or downtown or even inside a mall…what do they all have in common?

The Price. Notice how CHEAP the cost is, and have you ever wondered…why? 

I’ve worked most of my life in the spa industry as a nail technician (one of the best in Las Vegas mind you)  and I will never ever compromise price because manicuring is about SKILL- NEVER about cost. Those prices are cheap for a reason-to lure you and teens in with their pocket change. A full set is 15-25$. Who can afford that? A teenager, in a mall hanging out with her friends…a perfect target. 

Now don’t misunderstand there are some very fine, reputable nail shops owned by respectable business owners. But it would be irresponsible and foolish for those said owners to turn a blind eye to a problem they know is happening right across the street from them.

Let’s talk London and the heavy increase in the past five years of nail salons popping up all over Soho and fine neighborhoods. But Scotland Yard is on it so is their government, they KNOW and suspect many nail shops in the UK are sex trafficking operations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSdfG5MVa28

In Boston in 2011, reporter Phillip Martin did a documentary on nail shops in Boston and learned something disturbing. Nails by day-prostitution by night. It truly is happening here in America. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phillip-martin/nail-salons-and-human-tra_b_669076.html

This is a news report from PA about two victims working in a salon. http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/special_reports&id=8990740

Let’s talk Governor Rick Perry’s State: He has a SERIOUS epidemic of human and sex trafficking coming across the border from Nuevo Laredo to Laredo and Interstate 35…Juarez a haunted city where women are chopped, kidnapped, boiled, burned with diesel fuel, for sport with the drug cartels and shipped into the United States and transported by trucks across Interstate 35…WHY the HELL isn’t anyone in Texas talking about this? A genocide of women from 1993-present day cannot leave their homes after seven pm because they have no police protection…I’ve been told even AMERICAN Women have been brutally raped, chopped mutilated and burned in Juarez and Nuevo Laredo yet our country stays silent.. Please look at the map of Texas and see the hot-bedded areas, please? http://www.msnbc.com/documentaries/watch/sex-slaves-texas-52461635545

But the number one state for sex trafficking is…GEORGIA

Young little boys and girls at the tender age of eleven are being thrown into the slave trade. There is an increase of Hispanic population in Georgia,in the past seven years and a 54% increase in reported trafficking cases. http://www.mysouthwestga.com/news/story.aspx?id=986708#.UsKMaPRDuSo

So how do we stop it? Strengthen our borders? Get tough on crime? Strengthen the family?

Let’s start with the OBVIOUS: EDUCATION!

In books, in films, in our news reports, our school systems, in Congress, our state laws, and how we as a country have opened the back door for this activity and can no longer close it.  The beast has been fed for the past five years and by looking at the map above, the consequences are frightening. That isn’t weather patterns, the orange and red areas are for the most cases of human and sex trafficking. Notice the areas where there is a port? The entire EASTERN COASTLINE? Florida?

Polaris Project DC did this research along with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and we simply should NOT ignore it.

Congressmen Rick Nolan D MN. and Dave Reichert R WA. and Senators Dick Durbin D Ill. and Orrin Hatch R UT, have introduced a bill called #Our Daughters are Not for Sale, a bill that will prevent trafficking victims from being treated as criminals and restructure the foster care system in our country by providing law enforcement with the education they need. According to the National Center of  Missing and exploited children, over 60% of foster care children are sexually abused and fall into the slave trade. if you are sexually abused night after night by the same relative or caretaker, why would you want to live at home? You’d run away and brave it hoping there would be someone you could trust. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen and these children gay, straight, transgender, doesn’t matter, they are sold from city to city-state to state here in America. Can we TALK ABOUT IT? Even the Attorney General’s office in the state of Washington along with 46 other states needs Congress to PAY ATTENTION and HELP! “According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, generating about $32 billion each year.”  http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?id=31596#.UsKMvPRDuSo

I just returned from vacation in Mexico and interviewed the Municipal Police Department in Los Cabos. It was quite fascinating because they too, are having the same issues in regards to human and sex trafficking. But this is very minor in Cabo. “It does happen, but not a large percent. The most Dangerous cities in Mexico are Guadalajara, Cuidad (City) of Juarez, and ‘Little town-big hell’ Sinaloa,” according to Officer Carlos Felipe Valencia. Officer Beatriz Nieto Ramirez, of nine years, claims most of the women and girls are placed in  protective custody, the Intra-Familia Violencia. This is much like a womens’ shelter but in many cities in Mexico, it is not always safe for the women either. Rumors claim many of the Intra Familia Violencia shelters, are prisons and the maidens who run them are abusing the women. “Violencia Intra Familiar”  is where female family members  go for protection whether a husband, father, uncle etc. have beaten, raped or caused trauma to the woman or child, They immediately separate them.”  

Officer Valencia continues, “Mexico police do not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion like The U.S. They cannot go into a public building and assume an arrest whether it is a massage parlor, nail salon, nite-club etc. They must go through the District Attorney’s office. 50% massage parlors illegal but its ‘sketchy’ because of the laws.”  

Image

So how are women treated in Mexico? Depends on where you go, according to Los Cabos Municipal Police. “The laws in Mexico protect the mothers and all female civilians in cases of all robberies, rape, prostitution and  molestation. 85-90% of the problems come from the foster house.” —Officer Carlos Felipe Valencia

Well that sounds much like what is happening here in America according to Congressman Dave Reichert of Seattle WA where the epidemic of sex trafficking has increased in the past five years. “This issue of child sex trafficking is too big and too evil to ignore. The risks for our foster children, in particular, are far too high.  Not only do we have to change the conversation to recognize these children as victims, we must also take action.  As Chairman of the Human Resources subcommittee I will take that action, and I look forward to introducing legislation soon to address and prevent sex trafficking of foster youth.  We need something that will take decisive action and make a difference.”

You can go to his congressional website for more information. http://reichert.house.gov/press-release/reichert-agrees-our-daughters-are-not-sale

I am pleased this bill is being introduced for two reasons-one because like Reichert says, what is happening is EVIL, ad two, it is a BIPARTISAN bill Congress actually agrees, but needs your support. The more you know, the faster this cure can grow. I feel what is truly disturbing to me is the women of Juarez and Nuevo Laredo. If you would like to see some footage, I do warn it is graphic in content. http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/01/13/mexico.human.traffic.drug/

Officer Valencia says, “We got a kidnapper in the city of Juarez, kidnapped raped punched, beat, and finally killed for no ransom. Women beheaded, gouged out finger nails, chopped up, and set on fire. These killers are more sociopath than psychopath. Women are not allowed to go outside after 7 pm in the city of Juarez because of the outbreak.”

Officer Valencia says the high number of kidnappings and ransom demands are very high in Mexico. He recounts his own experience dealing with a fake kidnapper. “I got a fake ransom call from a cell phone, and the guy said, ‘I got your wife and if you don’t pay me 250k pesos, I kill the wife.’ He used a fake recorder of a woman screaming help me, just like a movie. Then I call to my wife, and my wife answered the phone, I’m safe, I am waiting for you to come home for dinner and then I have to call to the federal emergency call and we prove that that number was from Sinaloa (about 20 hours away) and they said they got the number for a second time, and they captured and jailed the man.” 

Image

So if we have a breakdown in the foster care system, what can we do to protect our countries’ children globally? In Malaysia, they have 13-year old girls being forced to marry their 40 year old rapists! You can’t make this ish up! Why isn’t the United Nations outraged over this? http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/22/malaysian-rapist-marries-victim-girl

http://www.globalcenturion.org/, a non profit organization that combats sex trafficking, has created a curriculum for our school system to educate children at their most vulnerable age. Most of these children are being manipulated, bullied and coerced into the slave trade in JUNIOR HIGH right under the parents’ nose, and even sometimes, an actual family member, sells the child. According to its website, ‘The curriculum describes various types of human trafficking (sex trafficking and labor trafficking; international and domestic trafficking; adult and child trafficking.  The course introduces students to international, foreign national and U.S. law and  policy on human trafficking, how to identify victims, and common health concerns among trafficking victims as background for a demand-related approach. The primary purpose of the program is to create age-appropriate modules to reach young men and boys to help them make informed choices and reduce the demand.  The curriculum includes a syllabus, teacher-training manual, basic materials and exercises, special in-class and extra-curricular projects; and inter-active media technologies activities.  Curriculum is complete and ready to be piloted.’

So WHAT IS CONGRESS and the DEPT. of EDUCATION waiting for? In Memphis Tennesee…

http://www.fbi.gov/memphis/press-releases/2013/millington-man-michael-a.-lilley-charged-with-sex-trafficking-of-high-school-teens

To show this DOES happen in middle schools, watch this clip:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SjhdAWto5w

Image

Officer Valencia hopes Mexico will work with the United States to combat this growing problem. One way they are doing this, is to ease fears about Mexican police. “The proximity police, is working to put information out for citizens and civilians  to lower the crime rate. We put the emergency phone numbers from the commanders and police officers, to stay more in touch and go to the houses of the colonies (suburbs housing communities) to speak with the persons what  problems are on the surface. 2000-present day. Crime reduction has been reduced by 65% under this program. Here in Cabo, the Mexican Federal Government pronounced Cabo San Lucas one of “the safest places in Mexico. However, the most dangerous places  are Senaloa, Guadalajara, and the City of Juarez, (Near borderlands of US. and Mexico.) Senaloa have the highest rates of drug dealers, cartels, drug trafficking,and the highest number of police officer deaths.”

Are there crooked cops in Sinaloa or Juarez?  “Possibly. The city of Juarez have the highest rates of sex trafficking, woman rapes, and women killing.”

 

But in Cabo, Officer Valencia tells a gentler story. “We are gentle police force of social police officers. If you are completely drunk, the alcohol that you have on your brain goes down to your feet, if you watch a police Officer in Cabo.”    

The two of us plan to keep working on keeping the lines of communication open  to help educate what really happens. “The first step of everything…is to do something.” Many trafficking victims can spread sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS is back on the rise and many girls are HIV positive before the age of 16. 

So if we sit and do nothing, imagine what that number will be from 2013-2018? If traffickers populate the US in businesses that we Americans fund unknowingly, we are creating the problem. Imagine a twelve year old girl screaming, “God please help me…”

Will you listen?

Advertisements

Paul Walker: “When you put goodwill out there, its amazing what can be accomplished.” 9/12/1973-11/30/2013

Image Oh I am going to miss that million dollar smile that would make me go weak in the knees since I first saw Paul Walker. I saw him on the Young and the Restless years ago, and I kept yelling at the TV, Victor Newman picked the right guy for Victoria and she wants Ryan? OY!:) The true example of a kind-hearted man who never fell victim to the dark side of Hollywood and lived his life honestly and without any regrets. To look at this beautiful human being and all of the wonderful things he’s done for others, just goes to show you can live by his example: Go big or go home. And he did definitely did that. 

Everyone who personally knows me, knows how much I wanted to work with Paul one day ever since I saw him in Flags of our Fathers. I wanted to write a character  that was worthy of his humanitarian work and show good things can be done on the silver screen by exposing the evils on earth and how we all need a hero who stands up when some of us are too afraid to do so. My desire to bring sex trafficking awareness to the forefront in cinema and in my novels is tantamount because its an ongoing evil that must be battled, and the more who become educated with it, perhaps we can crush it. 

In the movie, Pawn Shop chronicles, (watch it his performance is hysterical as a southern white supremacist meth addict) there’s a scene in regards to ‘naked zombie women’ but what those naked zombie women really are, is trafficking victims kept in animal cages by Elijah Wood’s character and its a frightening realization that occurs much more often than you think. Paul was one of the producers of the film and while it has rip-roaring funny moments, there are some very surreal macabre ones that let you know, ‘yes, this does goes on even in a small southern town.’  While many critics didn’t understand it…(I swear when I finish film school I am going to rewrite the manual on what good cinema is because many critics have forgotten.) It was like Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt and shows bad people  under the nose of a small town getting what is coming to them. 

I think it is truly fair to say that Paul’s legacy will be not only for his beautiful looks, or love for fast cars, but just for his simple attitude about life and helping those who have less.  He appreciated the little things  and that truly is refreshing. From his choice of dress which was  Jeans, puma tennis shoes, a plaid shirt and a sweet smile. That’s it. No bling, no fancy crap, just that shining aura around a simple man who was so down to earth, that he preferred hanging out at small eateries and local bars with close friends and family than partying in tinsel town. He’d travel all around the world being an acting participant in inoculating children, or traveling with Jean-Michel Cousteau tagging sharks; petting  lions on safari…just a love for life, nature and appreciating it.

 This man one time actually bought an engagement ring for a U.S. Soldier to give to his bride because he couldn’t afford to buy the one she wanted. They didn’t even know he was in the jewelry store, and he told the clerk to put it on his account. In the bible, our gracious Good Lord says in Matthew 6:3, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4.so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you..” That was Paul Walker. For years he’s been giving to others. His organization, Reach Out World Wide or ROWW.org has been giving disaster relief since 2010. 

 I am just blown away by his generosity and the size of his heart. He was just too good and too beautiful for this cold world, but his shining smile will live on in the many hearts of his fans, colleagues, friends and family. With Christmas almost here, we all give back because it’s the season. But Paul and his team at ROWW, give throughout. He reminds us: “When you put goodwill out there, it’s amazing what can be accomplished.”

Image

For Roger Rodas, his friend and business partner at Always Evolving, he too, lost his life in the tragedy and his family too, is hurting. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers he is riding with Paul up there in the clouds at peace. 

Image

The best way to honor this man, I feel, is to follow his example. Universal Studios is donating a percentage of the Fast 6 movie when it is released next week to ROWW in honor of Paul’s charity. I think that is a great start.  It’s a wonderful thing to know that even Hollywood, fame, and fortune couldn’t tarnish this man’s beliefs or what truly was important to him. He loved the ocean, had an adrenaline rush for life, loved his family and he lived every day like it was his last. We all, should remember to do that because we never know. Hours is released December 13 and it will be very cathartic watching his performance just as it was for me seeing Heath ledger’s in the Dark Knight. Both untimely deaths are just too shocking to be believed.

But Paul said it, so we should all embrace it-

Image

“If the speed kills me, don’t cry because I will be smiling.”

 I sincerely believe it.

If you would like to donate to ROWW  https://twitter.com/ReachOutWW  and https://www.roww.org/ 

God Bless Paul Walker’s family, friends and fans. Thank you Paul for your years of entertaining us, to your own personal stunt work, to that gorgeous smile, your grace and kindness and the immeasurable size of your loving spirit. You have touched so many in such a short time, and you will never be forgotten.