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Human Trafficking Statistics are exaggerated, with NO proof, NO evidence,
only made up numbers and guesses by anti-prostitution groups.
There is a lot of controversy over the topics of sex trafficking, sex slavery, human trafficking and forced prostitution. Regarding what the definition is, the research methods used to find statistics, what the definition of a victim is, the number of child and adult victims involved, forced vs. unforced sex, how the actual prostitutes themselves feel about it, and legal vs. illegal prostitution.
There is a growing number of well respected researchers, journalists, scientists, professors, that have concluded in their research that the sex trafficking, sex slavery concept is based on emotion, morals, and monetary funding rather than facts, evidence and proof. They state that very few kidnapped, forced against their will, physically abused, raped sex slave prostitutes for profit have been found throughout the world. Their research concludes that women who enter into this type of work do so of their own free will. They also state that there are many anti-prostitution groups who simply do not like the idea of consensual adult prostitution and have distorted the facts in order to push their agenda and receive funding and money into their organizations in the form of donations, grants and to change the laws about prostitution. They state that these anti-prostitution groups use made up child sex trafficking statistics which they have no proof or evidence of in order to gain public acceptance for their cause.
Women who travel of their own free will to engage in sex work for money, normally do not tell their families, friends, relatives the real reason they are traveling. They usually tell the people in their lives back home that they are traveling to engage in legitimate work such as working in a restaurant, hotel, etc. They do this because they do not want to be thought of as a slut, whore etc. in their home town. These women would never think of working as a prostitute in their home town where they know a lot of people and would bring disgrace on their family.
Many anti-prostitution groups distort the facts about this saying that these women were tricked into it against their will expecting to work in a legitimate business. This is not correct. The women knew about the sex work, but do not want the people in their lives back home to know about it, since it is considered very bad to be thought of as a whore, slut, etc. and would bring disgrace to their family.
Millions of USA government dollars are being spent to fight a crime that is extremely rare. The US government assumes that all prostitutes on Earth are sex trafficked slaves – Who are kidnapped and forced into having sex against their will. This is NOT true of MOST Prostitution.
This website blog has some very important links and information about sex trafficking, that you should read. It is updated frequently. It is important to let the truth be told. The lying people get all the press. It is time for the people who tell the truth to get the press.
The numbers of sex trafficking sex slaves:
There is a lot of controversy over the numbers of adult woman who are forced sex slaves. The real factual answer is that no one knows. There is hard evidence that the sex slavery/sex trafficking issue continues to report false information and is greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media, and aid groups, feminist and religious organizations that receive funds from the government, The estimate of adult women who become new sex slaves ranges anywhere from 40 million a year to 5,000 per year all of which appear to be much too high. They have no evidence to back up these numbers, and no one questions them about it. Their sources have no sources, and are made up numbers. In fact if some of these numbers are to believed which have either not changed or have been increased each year for the past twenty years, all woman on earth would currently be sex slaves. Yet, very few real forced against their will sex slaves have been found.
It is not easy for criminals to engage in this acitvity:
Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years.
While there are some women who may be true victims. And it is possible for this to happen in very rare situations. This is a small rare group of people and that the numbers and scale of this crime is exaggerated. The very nature of someone pulling off a kidnapping and forced sex for profit appears to be very difficult. Since it would be difficult this makes this crime rare. Not impossible, but extremely rare.
We all agree that underage prostitution is bad, since this is an adult activity.
This needs to be stopped. Only adults should engage in sex. We all agree on that.
However, are all underage prostitutes forced and raped? crying, kicking and screaming while being forced, against their will to have sex for money?
If a prostitute is 17 and under the age of 18, she can not give legal consent. So, she could have wanted to be a prostitute, and given consent for sex, but since she is underage, she can not give legal consent, so legally she was “forced” even if she gives total consent to sex and it was consensual – she was “forced” according to the court and justice system.
This gives the impression that all prostitutes under the age of 18 are “forced” when they may in fact, not have been.
A key point is that on the sidelines the prostitutes themselves are not being listened to. They oppose laws against prostitution. But no one wants to listen to the prostitutes themselves. Only to the self appointed experts that make up numbers and stories many of which have never met a real forced sex slave or if they did it was only a few. The media and government never ask the prostitutes themselves what would help them in terms of laws.
Many women in the sex business are independent workers. They don’t have a pimp.
They work for themselves, advertise themselves, and keep all the money for themselves. No one forces them, because there isn’t anyone to force them. They go out and find their own customers, set their own prices, and arrange everything by themselves. Sometimes they may employ others to help them, but these are not pimps. If for example, she hires an internet web design company to make a website for her, does that make the web design company a pimp? If she pays a phone company for a phone to do business, does this make the phone company a pimp? If she puts an ad in the paper, does this make the editor a pimp? If she puts the money she makes into a bank account does this make the bank a pimp?
A lot of anti prostitution groups would say yes. Everyone and everybody is a pimp.
These groups make up lies, and false statistics that no one bothers to check. A big reason they do this is because it provides high paying jobs for them. They get big donations, and grants from the government, charity, churches, etc. to have these groups, and pay these high salaries of the anti prostitution workers.
Sex Traffficking in Sports Events:
Super Bowl 2011:
According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM????????????
It was all a big lie told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, A Future Not A Past, Polaris Project, Salvation Army, Women’s Funding Network, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which are anti-prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations.
As proved in the link below:
Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:
“Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.
“In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”
This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.
Brian McCarthy isn’t happy. He’s a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he’s forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.
The idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, is bad. No matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.
While this may happen in very rare limited situations, the media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest anti-prostitution groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These “non profit” group’s employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations. If you look into how many real kidnapped forced against their will sex slaves there are, and not just take the anti-prostitution groups word for it. You will be very surprised.
Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the millions of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will.
These groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies. This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.
I would like to see a news organization do a full report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves. The articles about the super bowl sex slaves, has been proved wrong many times, but news organizations still report about it, as if it were fact.
== World Cup 2006 ==
Politicians, religious and aid groups, still repeat the media story that 40,000 prostitutes were trafficked into Germany for the 2006 world cup – long after leaked police documents revealed there was no truth at all in the tale. A baseless claim of 25,000 trafficking victims is still being quoted, recently, for example, by the Salvation Army in written evidence to the home affairs select committee, in which they added: “Other studies done by media have suggested much higher numbers.” Which has been proven by the German police to be completely false. Yet people still talk about these false numbers as if it were fact.
==World Cup 2010 ==
Again using the made up number of 40,000 prostitutes trafficked:
The behavior of fans in South Africa has run contrary to what was predicted prior to the start of the tournament after David Bayever told World Cup organizers in March it was feared that up to 40,000 extra prostitutes could converge in the host nation to meet the expected demand. Bayever, deputy chairperson of South Africa’s Central Drug Authority (CDA) that advises on drug abuse but also works with prostitutes, warned: “Forty-thousand new prostitutes. As if we do not have enough people of our own, we have to import them to ensure our visitors are entertained.”
But the tournament in 2010, if anything, has seen the modern-day soccer fan attracted to art galleries and museums over brothels.
A trend that has seen a drop in revenue across the board for the prostitution industry, which is illegal in South Africa. “Zobwa,” the chairperson of Sisonke — an action group representing around 70 street prostitutes in Johannesburg — said business had been down over the last month. “The World Cup has been devastating. We thought it was going to be a cash cow but it’s chased a lot of the business away. It’s been the worst month in my company’s history,” the owner and founder of one of Johannesburg’s most exclusive escort companies told CNN.
In recent years, every time there has been a major international sporting event, a group of government officials, campaigning feminists, pliant journalists and NGOs have claimed that the movement of thousands of men to strange foreign countries where there will be lots of alcohol and horniness will result in the enslavement of women for the purposes of sexual pleasure. Obviously. And every time they have simply doubled the made-up scare figures from the last international sporting event, to make it look like this problem of sport/sex/slavery gets worse year on year. Yet each year it is proved false.
This myth tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in. These anti-prostitution groups need to in invent a victim that does not exist in order to get press attention.
Below are the few brave souls in the media who told the truth about super bowl sex trafficking:
Sex Trafficking in Sports Events links:
Dallas TV News show about super bowl sex slave myth:
Official Lies About Sex-Trafficking Exposed: It’s now clear Anti Prostitution groups used fake data to deceive the media and lie to Congress. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding
== In the USA ==
On August 5, 2008
U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine uncovered discrepancies in a program dedicated to cracking down on human trafficking, McClatchy Newspapers report. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spent millions of dollars on combating the international trafficking of indentured servants and sex slaves, including by creating task forces across the U.S. that identified and helped victims. Over four years, the department paid $50 million to the task forces and other groups. Conservative groups, who pressured the administration to go after sex trafficking more aggressively, applauded his efforts.
Critics have questioned whether the problem was being hyped. Fine found in an audit issued that the task forces and other groups set up to help were ‘significantly’ overstating the number of victims they served. By examining a sampling of cases, Fine found the task forces had exaggerated by as much as 165 percent. Making matters worse, the inflated numbers were included in annual reports to Congress.
The Sex Trafficking/Slavery idea is used to outlaw all prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing.
This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims. Everything I heard about this problem was Americans complaining about it, but I never heard from the so-called victims themselves complaining about it. Why is that? Many of the self appointed experts complaining about this have never even met or seen a real forced against their will victim.
The problems I see with the sex traffic idea is that suppose some of the women were not forced into this type of prostitution, but were willing and wanted to do this type of work, and went out of their way to do this type of work. (It is a lot of fast easy money, they don’t need a degree, or a green card.)
All they have to do is lie and say that someone forced them into it. When perhaps, no one did.
If a illegal allien for example is the victim all they have to do is lie and here are their benefits based on the USA anti-traffic prostitution laws:
1. They don’t have to go to jail or be arrested.
2. They get to stay and live in America, and become U.S. citizens
3. The U.S. Government will provide them with housing, food, education and will cater to them since they will be considered victims. . They will be considered victimed refugees, and can become American citizens.
The way I see it is that this USA government system will encourage people to lie in order to receive all the benefits listed above.
While there are some women who may be true victims. This is a small rare group of people.
What hard evidence does the police have that these women were forced slaves? Were all the women that the police saw in fact slaves? Did the police prove without a doubt due to hard concrete evidence that the women were victims of being slaves and forced against their will? Did they account for all the benefits they would receive if they lied?
I find it very hard to believe that most women in this business are forced against their will to do it. It would just be too difficult. There may be some exceptions but, I believe this is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.
== In the United Kingdom ==
In October, 2009 – The biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country. The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.
Nick Davis of the Guardian newspaper writes:
Current and former ministers have claimed that thousands of women have been imported into the UK and forced to work as sex slaves, but most of these statements were either based on distortions of quoted sources or fabrications without any source at all.
===In India and Nepal===
If media reports are to be believed, there would be no young girls left in Nepal. Oft-quoted figures such as 5,000-7,000 Nepali girls being trafficked across the border to India every year and 150,000-200,000 Nepali women and girls being trapped in brothels in various Indian cities, were first disseminated in 1986, and have remained unaltered over the next two decades. The report that first quoted these statistics was from the Indian Health Association, Mumbai, written by AIDS Society of India secretary general, Dr. I S Gilada, and presented in a workshop in 1986. Subsequently, a version of this report was published as an article in The Times of India on January 2, 1989. To date, the source of this figure remains a mystery. Unfortunately, such a lack of clarity is more the norm than the exception when it comes to reporting on trafficking in women and girls.
There needs to be a distinct separation of
1. Child sex trafficking
2. Adult sex Trafficking
3. Adult consensual
4. Sex Slavery
They are not the same. Adult Women are NOT children.
Media coverage of trafficking and adult women’s migration and sex work is confused and inaccurate. The media wrongly uses the terms ‘sex work’ and ‘trafficking’ and adult sex work and child sex trafficking synonymously, perpetuating stereotypes and stigmatization, and contributing to the violation of women’s right to free movement and livelihood options. They assume that if any woman moves from place to place for sex work that they are being trafficking. The media, politicians, aid groups, feminist, and religious organizations does not take into account that she may do this of her own free will. Too often women are treated like children. Adult women are not children. Prostitution is a business between adults and in our society adults are responsible for themselves. Sex slavery/trafficking on the other hand is non-consensual. To equate that the two are the same is to say grown adult women are not capable of being responsible or thinking for themselves.
Most migrant women, including those in the sex industry, have made a clear decision, says a new study, to leave home and take their chances abroad. They are not “passive victims” in need of “saving” or sending back by western campaigners.
Sex Trafficking/Slavery is used by many groups as a attempt to outlaw all prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing. This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims.
This is done by the media, aid groups, NGO’s, feminists, politicians, and religious organizations that receive funds from the government. There are very strong groups who promote that all adult women who have sex are victims even if they are willing, enjoy it and go out of there way to get it. These groups try to get the public to believe that no adult women in their right mind would ever go into the sex business unless she was forced to do so, weather she knew it or not. They say that 100% of all sex workers are trafficking victims. They do this in order to label all men as sex offenders and wipe out all consensual prostitution. Which is what their real goal is. There is almost no one who challenges or questions them about their false beliefs. Therefore, the only voices you hear are of these extreme groups. These groups want to label all men as terrible sex offenders for seeing a willing adult sex worker. No one stands up to say this is foolish, the passive public says nothing. These groups even say that all men who marry foreign women are terrible sex predators who take advange of these “helpless foreign women wives”.
These groups believe that two adults having consensual sex in private should be outlawed. Since they believe that it is impossible for a man to have sex with a woman without abusing the woman in the process.
This is an example of feminists and other groups exploiting the suffering of a small minority of vulnerable and abused women in order to further their own collective interests. For example, getting money from the government and Charity into their organizations. Rather than wanting to find the truth.
Non government Organizations (NGO’s) are chiefly responsible for manufacturing “a growing problem” of trafficking in order to generate revenue for their Federally funded cottage industry. They also fabricated numbers by expanding the definition of trafficking to include practically anyone.
For example various women’s groups testified under oath at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (July 13, 2007) that US based matchmaking organizations were correlated to human trafficking ring.
This hysterical claim was an emotional ploy to get legislators to enact the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. The truth reveals THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A US BASED MATCHMAKING AGENCY ARRESTED FOR TRAFFICKING. These NGO’s spread their propaganda partnering with Lifetime television(Television for women) conducting a poll among viewers (mostly women) to asociate “mail order brides services” with trafficking of women to generate support for the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. wqad.com/global/story.asp?s=3970595&ClientType=Print
This romance law requires American men submit criminal hard copy records to be reviewed before they can communicate with a foreign lady using a matchmaking organization.
Why should the US government dole out millions of dollars to NGO’s such as Polaris Project whose executives are paid handsome salaries when the money could be spent on REAL PROBLEMS?
Most of the information above relates to Adult prostitution.
The following information is from a report from the Crimes against children research center which talks about the Unknown Exaggerated Statistics of Juvenile Prostitution.
Crimes against Children Research Center ● University of New Hampshire ● 126 Horton Social Science Center ● Durham, NH 03824 (603) 862‐1888●Fax: (603) 862‐1122●www.unh.edu/ccrc
How Many Juveniles are Involved in Prostitution in the U.S.?
There have been many attempts to estimate the number of juvenile prostitutes within the United States. These estimates range from 1,400 to 2.4 million, although most fall between 300,000 and 600,000. BUT PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS. READ ON. A close look at these diverse estimates reveals that none are based on a strong scientific foundation. They are mostly educated guesses or extrapolations based on questionable assumptions. They do not have the substance of typically reported crime statistics, like the number of robberies or the number of child sexual abuse victims. The reality is that we do not currently know how many juveniles are involved in prostitution. Scientifically credible estimates do not exist.
The most often cited estimates on juvenile prostitution will be described here and their source, along with the major problems with their validity. Estes and WeinerPerhaps the most commonly used estimate of juvenile prostitution comes from Estes and Weiner (2001). These authors concluded in a large, publicized report that about 326,000 children were “at risk for commercial sexual exploitation.” However, there are several problems with treating this number as an estimate of juvenile prostitution. First, although this is often cited as an estimate of juvenile prostitutes, even the authors call it something muchmore nebulous: youth “at risk” of commercial sexual exploitation. “At risk” means it is compilation of youth in various categories (14 in total) – like runaway kids, female gangmembers – who could become or be involved in commercial sexual exploitation. But the authors had no evidence of how many or what proportion of these youth actually were involved. Secondly, the numbers that form the basis of their various “at risk” categories are themselves highly speculative. One large portion of the estimate is simply a crude guess that 35% of a national estimate of runaway youth out of their home a week or longer were “at risk”. Another large portion was a guess that one quarter of 1% of the general population of youth 10‐17 were “at risk”. Together these two groups constitute nearly 200,000 of the at risk youth. But it is essentially a guesstimate and not a scientific estimate.
A third problem is that no one has any idea how much duplication there is among the 14 at risk groups. Some of the runaways are also gang members and living in public housing, etc. so one cannot simply add together estimates from these various sources. A scientific estimate would have to “unduplicate” the numbers from the various categories. In sum, no one should cite the 326,000 number from Estes and Weiner as a scientifically based estimate of the number of juvenile prostitutes. AddHealth Survey Another estimate with some research credibility is from a recent study by Edwards, Iritani, and Hallfors (2005), which found that 3.5% of an AddHealth sample endorsed an item asking if they had “ever exchanged sex for drugs or money.” The nationally representative sample was comprised of 13,294 youth in grades 8‐12 during the year 1996 who completed an in‐school questionnaire. The majority (67.9%) of those saying they had participated in a sex exchange were males.
A first caveat about this estimate is that it is not clear that what the respondents were endorsing really constituted prostitution. For example, could a juvenile who had paid a prostitute for sex consider that to have been an “exchange of sex for money” and thus said yes to the question? Could a sexual encounter that involved sharing drugs with a partner as part of consensual sex have prompted someone to say yes to the question, even though the drugs were not necessarily a sine qua non of the sexual encounter? The similarity between prostitution and exchanging sex for goods needs to be clarified if this estimate is to be accepted as an estimate of juvenile prostitution. In addition, the fact that the majority of those endorsing the question were boys raises an important validity question about this estimate. Virtually no analyst of the problem thinks that there are truly so many more boys than girls engaged in juvenile prostitution; because the survey found more boys engaging in prostitution, there may be some misunderstanding of the
question at work. It may be possible to obtain an incidence estimate for juvenile prostitution through a general population survey, but the questions and details will have to be more specific to confirm that what is being counted is truly prostitution or sexual exploitation. General Accounting Office Report In 1982, the General Accounting Office attempted to determine the basis of existing juvenile prostitution estimates. The General Accounting Office (1982) found that the “general perception” estimates ranged from “tens of thousands to 2.4 million.” One set of estimates from 1982 seemed to trace back to the “gut hunches” of Robin Lloyd, the author of the 1976 book, “For Love or Money: Boy Prostitution in America,” who used a working figure of 300,000 male juvenile prostitutes. The President of the Odyssey Institute adopted this figure, then doubled it to cover female juvenile prostitutes, increasing the estimate to 600,000. Because the Odyssey Institute president believed that only half of juvenile prostitutes were known, the 600,000 figure was doubled; the estimate was doubled once more to 2.4 million because the president believed that the estimate did not include 16 and 17 year old prostitutes. These were
all just hunches without scientific basis. The General Accounting Office (1982) report also located an estimate by the Criminal Justice Institute Inc., which stated that 20 to 25 percent of all prostitutes were juveniles. The Criminal Justice Institute, Inc. estimated that there were 450,000 prostitutes of all ages, leading to an estimate of 90,000 to 112,500 juvenile prostitutes in the U.S. However, these Criminal Justice Institute Inc. estimates are not linked to any citation for methodological verification or explanation. Finally, a New York City shelter president estimated that there were “tens of thousands” of juvenile prostitutes across the nation. These “gut hunch” statistics assembled by the General Accounting Office may have been the basis for some rough consensus about the magnitude of juvenile prostitution among advocates. But there were no hard statistics. Moreover, whatever the rates were in the 1970s and 1980s, they almost certainly no longer apply. That was an era when the juvenile runaway problem was considerably larger than at present. There is indication that since the 1970s and ‘80s, running away has declined (Finkelhor & Jones, 2006) and, in the era of AIDS, casual sexual behavior among the young has also become less frequent (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2005). So it is likely that estimates from 20 or 30 years ago have little applicability to the U.S. at
the present time. Despite the fact that the General Accounting Office estimates are obsolete, current groups concerned with child welfare still use this estimate. For example, Children of the Night (http://www.childrenofthenight.org/faq.html) cites the 1982 General Accounting Office estimate of 600,000 juvenile prostitutes under the age of 16. This organization also cites UNICEF estimates of 300,000 juvenile prostitutes (In a 2004 textbook entitled “Child Labour: A Textbook for University Students”, the International Labour Organization cites the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as estimating 300,000 juvenile prostitutes. When asked to verify this, U.S. DHHS could not locate this estimate.). When asked about the estimates on the Children of the Night website, founder and President Lois Lee responded: “I am always pressured for statistics and I have said, there is no way to know for sure because there is no counting mechanism, no quantitative analysis on the subject. Several years ago, I suggested to a lot of [government] agencies and NGO’s that about 1/3rd of all runaways have some kind of “brush” with a pimp or prostitution. All the professionals agreed that was a good estimate. UNICEF published it as their own.” L. Lee (personal communication, September 29, 2007).
A considerable number of the estimates of juvenile prostitution do start with more scientifically based survey statistics on running away (for example, Hammer, Finkelhor & Sedlak, 2002), which suggest that hundreds of thousands of youth runaway every year. It might seem plausible that a significant percentage of runaway street youths engage in survival sex or get recruited into prostitution. But it is important to remember that most of the youth identified as runaways in survey samples are not truly on the streets (Hammer et al., 2002). Most runaways run to the homes of friends and family. Thus, it is not accurate to simply think about the experience of street runaways and generalize from that experience to the experience of all runaways.
Other Estimates Other organizations do not cite sources that have reliable methodologies. The Coalition against Trafficking in Women (http://www.catwinternational.org/factbook/usa2_prost.php) estimates that there are between 300,000 and 600,000 juvenile prostitutes in the U.S., citing a Beacon
Journal news article from 1997. The article, entitled “Danger for Prostitutes Increasing, Most Starting Younger,” cited Gary Costello of the Exploited Child Unit of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but did not include a discussion of the way that the estimate was calculated. The 1995 Progress of Nations report by UNICEF (http://www.unicef.org/pon95/progtoc.html) offers a “guesstimate” of 300,000 juvenile prostitutes in the U.S. under the age of 18. The UNICEF report cited a U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimate used inUNICEF’s “Breaking the Walls of Silence: A UNICEF Background Paper on the Sexual Exploitation of Children” report from 1994. Again, there was no discussion as to how this number was derived in the Progress of Nations report. Similarly, the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the U.S. Department of Justice (http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ceos/prostitution.html) reports that 293,000 juveniles are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation. This estimate was made based on the Estes and Weiner (2001) article discussed previously.
Some figures about the related problem of “sex trafficking of children” are also available, but once again with a speculative methodology, a “computer simulation.” Clawson, Layne, and Small (2006) estimated in a very statistically complicated report that over 800,000 females, including over 100,000 under age 19, were “at risk” of being trafficked to the US from eight nations: Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico. These include trafficking for all purposes including for employment. Of those at risk, the authors estimate that roughly 15,000 females under nineteen were being trafficked for sex from those nations. However, the authors concede that these estimates are not informed by any real statistics or research about the true rates of adult or child sex trafficking, but rather that the estimates are “probabilit[ies] based on a mathematical equation, not a reality” (M. Layne 2/4/2008). Police Data
There are also national estimates from law enforcement sources about the number of juveniles taken into custody because of prostitution and related crimes. For example, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data analyzed by Snyder and Sickmund (2006) shows that 1,400 juveniles were arrested nationally in 2003 for prostitution and commercialized vice. These data come from aggregating data from most of the local law enforcement agencies in the U.S., and are the same data used to estimate year‐to‐year estimates in violent and property crime. This is a plausible estimate of the number of youth arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice because, in truth, not many law enforcement agencies are actively arresting youth in regard to this problem, as a soon to be released CCRC study will show. But there is undoubtedly more prostitution involving youth; law enforcement officials believe many youths involved in prostitution are arrested for other crimes (e.g., drug possession, curfew violation, etc.) but not prostitution per se. Most observers believe also that there are also many youth engaged in prostitution who are never arrested by police. So, while this UCR estimate is plausible, no one believes this estimate fully characterizes the problem. It is rarely cited, even as part of a spectrum of estimates, perhaps because it would so lower the range as to make the higher estimates seem more extreme.
Conclusion As the critique of estimates suggest, there is currently no reliable estimate of juvenile prostitution. Some current estimates are based upon “gut hunches” and “guesstimates” from almost thirty years ago. Others offer definitions of sexual exchange that may not actually constitute prostitution. Also, the methods used to create these estimates are often difficult to find, making them methodologically suspect. These organizations often recognize these problems but continue to cite such poorly calculated estimates. People concerned about the problem very much want there to be a number that they can cite. Because other people have cited numbers, there has come to be a “collective intuition” about the rough magnitude based on these earlier claims. But in reality there is little scientific substance behind any of them. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in social problem analysis and has been called the “Woozle Effect” (Gelles 1980). The “Woozle Effect” occurs when one writer reports an estimate based on a typically weak methodology or guesstimate that is subsequently cited by other writers, but without the first writer’s caveats (Gelles 1980). Estimates of juvenile prostitution seem to have taken this path: the “gut hunches” of one author and the compiling of such hunches by the General Accounting Office have seemed to provide a basis for contemporary estimates of juvenile prostitution, despite the fact that the General Accounting Office states that the estimates in the literature are “general perceptions” (General Accounting Office, 1982).
What are journalists and scholars to do?
It is our suggestion that in the absence of any estimates with any good scientific basis, that scholars, writers and advocates stop using the unsubstantiated estimates and simply indicate that the true incidence is currently unknown. It is very frustrating to write about a topic and not have an estimate of its magnitude, but we believe that continued citation of unsupported estimates gives them credibility. Even writing that “No one knows how many juveniles are engaged in prostitution, but estimates have been made from 1,400 to 2.4 million,” contributes to the problem. It gives people the impression that these are knowledgeable estimates about the current situation and that the real number lies somewhere in the middle of that range, which it may not. For brief treatments of the problem, one can say simply: “Unfortunately, there are no credible or supported estimates about the size of the problem.” For more extended treatments of the problem, one can cite some of the statistics, but then indicate that these numbers are based mostly on guesses or extremely imprecise and speculative methodologies. It would be a good idea when citing any numbers to be sure to include the low end estimate from law enforcement of 1,400, since this is among the most recent and clearly defined of the estimates, and counters the assumption that all the estimates are large. Crimes against Children Research Center ● University of New Hampshire ● 126 Horton Social Science Center ● Durham, NH 03824(603) 862‐1888●Fax: (603) 862‐1122●www.unh.edu/ccrcFact sheet written by Michelle Stransky and David Finkelhor. (2008)
From the Department of Justice Stats pages:
Human Trafficking/Trafficking in Persons
The Department of Justice (DOJ) funded the creation of the Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS). This system provides data on human trafficking incidents investigated between January 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008.
An incident is defined as any investigation into a claim of human trafficking or any investigation of other crimes in which elements of potential human trafficking were identified.
Between January 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008 task forces reported investigating 1,229 alleged incidents of human trafficking.
- About 78% of these incidents were still under investigation at the end of the reporting period. Investigations were completed and closed during the 21-month reporting period for the remaining 22%.
- Less than 10% of alleged human trafficking incidents reported by task forces were confirmed as human trafficking, 10% were pending confirmation, and 23% had been determined not to involve any human trafficking elements.
- Sex trafficking accounted for 83% of the alleged incidents,12% involved allegations of either labor trafficking, and 5% were other/unknown forms of human trafficking.
Of the 1,018 alleged sex trafficking incidents reported by task forces —
- 391 (38%) involved allegations of child sex trafficking and 627 (62%) incidents involved allegations of adult sex trafficking, such as forced prostitution or other sex trafficking crimes.
- Forced prostitution (46%) and child sex trafficking (30%) represented the largest categories of confirmed human trafficking incidents.
- Allegations of forced or coerced adult prostitution accounted for 63% of human trafficking investigations that were ultimately found not to involve human trafficking elements.
Below is a article from the Washington Post:
Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence.
U.S. Estimates Thousands of Victims, But Efforts to Find Them Fall Short
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Outrage was mounting at the 1999 hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building, where congressmen were learning about human trafficking.
A woman from Nepal testified that September that she had been drugged, abducted and forced to work at a brothel in Bombay. A Christian activist recounted tales of women overseas being beaten with electrical cords and raped. A State Department official said Congress must act — 50,000 slaves were pouring into the United States every year, she said. Furious about the “tidal wave” of victims, Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) vowed to crack down on so-called modern-day slavery.
The next year, Congress passed a law, triggering a little-noticed worldwide war on human trafficking that began at the end of the Clinton administration and is now a top Bush administration priority. As part of the fight, President Bush has blanketed the nation with 42 Justice Department task forces and spent more than $150 million — all to find and help the estimated hundreds of thousands of victims of forced prostitution or labor in the United States.
But the government couldn’t find them. Not in this country.
The evidence and testimony presented to Congress pointed to a problem overseas. But in the seven years since the law was passed, human trafficking has not become a major domestic issue, according to the government’s figures.
The administration has identified 1,362 victims of human trafficking brought into the United States since 2000, nowhere near the 50,000 a year the government had estimated. In addition, 148 federal cases have been brought nationwide, some by the Justice task forces, which are composed of prosecutors, agents from the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local law enforcement officials in areas thought to be hubs of trafficking.
In the Washington region, there have been about 15 federal cases this decade.
Ronald Weitzer, a criminologist at George Washington University and an expert on sex trafficking, said that trafficking is a hidden crime whose victims often fear coming forward. He said that might account for some of the disparity in the numbers, but only a small amount.
“The discrepancy between the alleged number of victims per year and the number of cases they’ve been able to make is so huge that it’s got to raise major questions,” Weitzer said. “It suggests that this problem is being blown way out of proportion.”
Government officials define trafficking as holding someone in a workplace through force, fraud or coercion. Trafficking generally takes two forms: sex or labor. The victims in most prosecutions in the Washington area have been people forced into prostitution. The Department of Health and Human Services “certifies” trafficking victims in the United States after verifying that they were subjected to forced sex or labor. Only non-U.S. citizens brought into this country by traffickers are eligible to be certified, entitling them to receive U.S. government benefits.
Administration officials acknowledge that they have found fewer victims than anticipated. Brent Orrell, an HHS deputy assistant secretary, said that certifications are increasing and that the agency is working hard to “help identify many more victims.” He also said: “We still have a long way to go.”
But Tony Fratto, deputy White House press secretary, said that the issue is “not about the numbers. It’s really about the crime and how horrific it is.” Fratto also said the domestic response to trafficking “cannot be ripped out of the context” of the U.S. government’s effort to fight it abroad. “We have an obligation to set an example for the rest of the world, so if we have this global initiative to stop human trafficking and slavery, how can we tolerate even a minimal number within our own borders?”
He said that the president’s passion about fighting trafficking is motivated in part by his Christian faith and his outrage at the crime. “It’s a practice that he obviously finds disgusting, as most rational people would, and he wants America to be the leader in ending it,” Fratto said. “He sees it as a moral obligation.”
Although there have been several estimates over the years, the number that helped fuel the congressional response — 50,000 victims a year — was an unscientific estimate by a CIA analyst who relied mainly on clippings from foreign newspapers, according to government sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the agency’s methods. Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales told Congress last year that a much lower estimate in 2004 — 14,500 to 17,500 a year — might also have been overstated.
Yet the government spent $28.5 million in 2006 to fight human trafficking in the United States, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. The effort has attracted strong bipartisan support.
Steven Wagner, who helped HHS distribute millions of dollars in grants to community groups to find and assist victims, said “Those funds were wasted.”
“Many of the organizations that received grants didn’t really have to do anything,” said Wagner, former head of HHS’s anti-trafficking program. “They were available to help victims. There weren’t any victims.”
Still, the raw emotion of the issue internationally and domestically has spawned dozens of activist organizations that fight trafficking. They include the Polaris Project, which was founded in 2002 by two college students, and the Washington-based Break the Chain Campaign, which started in the mid-1990s focusing on exploited migrant workers before concentrating on trafficking after 2000.
Activist groups and administration officials strongly defend their efforts, saying that trafficking is a terrible crime and that even one case is too many. They said that cultural obstacles and other impediments prevent victims from coming forward.
Mark P. Lagon, director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said that such problems make the numbers “naturally murky. . . . There are vigorous U.S. government efforts to find and help victims in the United States, not because there is some magic number that we have a gut instinct is out there. Any estimate we’re citing, we’ve always said, is an estimate.”
But Lagon said he is convinced that “thousands upon thousands of people are subject to gross exploitation” in the United States.
Few question that trafficking is a serious problem in many countries, and the U.S. government has spent more than half a billion dollars fighting it around the world since 2000.
Last year, anti-trafficking projects overseas included $3.4 million to help El Salvador fight child labor and $175,000 for community development training for women in remote Mekong Delta villages in Vietnam, according to the State Department. Human trafficking, in the United States and abroad, is under attack by 10 federal agencies that report to a Cabinet-level task force chaired by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In the United States, activists say that trafficking has received far more attention than crimes such as domestic violence, of which there are hundreds of thousands of documented victims every year.
The quest to find and help victims of trafficking has become so urgent that the Bush administration hired a public relations firm, a highly unusual approach to fighting crime. Ketchum, a New York-based public relations firm, has received $9.5 million and has been awarded $2.5 million more.
“We’re giving money to Ketchum so they can train people who can train people who can train people to serve victims,” said one Washington area provider of services for trafficking victims, who receives government funding and spoke on condition of anonymity. “Trafficking victims are hidden. They’re not really going to be affected by a big, splashy PR campaign. They’re not watching Lifetime television.”
Yet the anti-trafficking crusade goes on, partly because of the issue’s uniquely nonpartisan appeal. In the past four years, more than half of all states have passed anti-trafficking laws, although local prosecutions have been rare.
“There’s huge political momentum, because this is a no-brainer issue,” said Derek Ellerman, co-founder of the Polaris Project. “No one is going to stand up and oppose fighting modern-day slavery.”
A Matter of Faith
Throughout the 1990s, evangelicals and other Christians grew increasingly concerned about international human rights, fueled by religious persecution in Sudan and other countries. They were also rediscovering a tradition of social reform dating to when Christians fought the slave trade of an earlier era.
Human trafficking has always been a problem in some cultures but increased in the early 1990s, experts say.
For conservative Christians, trafficking was “a clear-cut, uncontroversial, terrible thing going on in the world,” said Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission in Arlington, a Christian human rights group.
Feminist groups and other organizations also seized on trafficking, and a 1999 meeting at the Capitol, organized by former Nixon White House aide Charles W. Colson, helped seal a coalition. The session in the office of then-House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) brought together the Southern Baptist Convention, conservative William Bennett and Rabbi David Saperstein, a prominent Reform Jewish activist.
The session focused only on trafficking victims overseas, said Mariam Bell, national public policy director for Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries.
“It was just ghastly stuff,” Armey recalled last week, saying that he immediately agreed to support an anti-trafficking law. “I felt a sense of urgency that this must be done, and as soon as possible.”
A New Law
A law was more likely to be enacted if its advocates could quantify the issue. During a PowerPoint presentation in April 1999, the CIA provided an estimate: 45,000 to 50,000 women and children were trafficked into the United States every year.
The CIA briefing emerged from the Clinton administration’s growing interest in the problem. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had been pushing the issue, former administration officials said.
But information was scarce, so a CIA analyst was told to assess the problem in the United States and abroad. She combed through intelligence reports and law enforcement data. Her main source, however, was news clippings about trafficking cases overseas — from which she tried to extrapolate the number of U.S. victims.
The CIA estimate soon appeared in a report by a State Department analyst that was the U.S. government’s first comprehensive assessment of trafficking. State Department officials raised the alarm about victims trafficked into the United States when they appeared before Congress in 1999 and 2000, citing the CIA estimate. A Justice Department official testified that the number might have been 100,000 each year.
The congressional hearings focused mostly on trafficking overseas. At the House hearing in September 1999, Rep. Earl F. Hilliard (D-Ala.) changed the subject and zeroed in on Laura J. Lederer, a Harvard University expert on trafficking.
“How prevalent is the sex trade here in this country?” Hilliard asked.
“We have so very little information on this subject in this country. . . . so very few facts,” Lederer said.
“Excuse me, but is the sex trade prevalent here?” Hilliard asked.
Nobody knows, Lederer said.
Bipartisan passion melted any uncertainty, and in October 2000, Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, significantly broadening the federal definition of trafficking. Prosecutors would no longer have to rely on statutes that required them to prove a victim had been subjected to physical violence or restraints, such as chains. Now, a federal case could be made if a trafficker had psychologically abused a victim.
The measure toughened penalties against traffickers, provided extensive services for victims and committed the United States to a leading role internationally, requiring the State Department to rank countries and impose sanctions if their anti-trafficking efforts fell short.
The law’s fifth sentence says: “Congress finds that . . . approximately 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States each year.”
Just as the law took effect, along came a new president to enforce it.
Bell, with Prison Fellowship Ministries, noted that when Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly in 2003, he focused on the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism and the war on trafficking.
Soon after Bush took office, a network of anti-trafficking nonprofit agencies arose, spurred in part by an infusion of federal dollars.
HHS officials were determined to raise public awareness and encourage victims to come forward. For help, they turned to Ketchum in 2003.
Legal experts said they hadn’t heard of hiring a public relations firm to fight a crime problem. Wagner, who took over HHS’s anti-trafficking program in 2003, said that the strategy was “extremely unusual” but that creative measures were needed.
“The victims of this crime won’t come forward. Law enforcement doesn’t handle that very well, when they have to go out and find a crime,” he said.
Ketchum, whose Washington lobbying arm is chaired by former U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), formed coalitions of community groups in two states and 19 cities, to search for and aid victims. The coalition effort was overseen by a subcontractor, Washington-based Capital City Partners, whose executives during the period of oversight have included the former heads of the Fund for a Conservative Majority and the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, in addition to the former editorial page editor of the conservative Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader newspaper.
Trying to Get the Number Right
Three years ago, the government downsized its estimate of trafficking victims, but even those numbers have not been borne out.
The effort to acquire a more precise number had begun at the Library of Congress and Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania, where graduate students on a CIA contract stayed up nights, using the Internet to find clippings from foreign newspapers.
Once again, the agency was using mainly news clips from foreign media to estimate the numbers of trafficking victims, along with reports from government agencies and anti-trafficking groups. The students at Mercyhurst, a school known for its intelligence studies program, were enlisted to help.
But their work was thought to be inconsistent, said officials at the Government Accountability Office, which criticized the government’s trafficking numbers in a report last year.
A part-time researcher at the Library of Congress took over the project. “The numbers were totally unreliable,” said David Osborne, head of research for the library’s federal research division. “If it was reported that 15 women were trafficked from Romania into France, French media might pick it up and say 32 women and someone else would say 45.”
A CIA analyst ran the research through a computer simulation program, said government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing the CIA’s methods. It spat out estimates of destination countries for trafficking victims worldwide. The new number of victims trafficked into the United States: 14,500 to 17,500 each year.
The simulation is considered a valid way to measure probability if the underlying data are reliable. “It seems incredibly unlikely that this was a robust, sound analysis,” said David Banks, a statistics professor at Duke University.
The CIA’s new estimate, which first appeared in a 2004 State Department report, has been widely quoted, including by a senior Justice Department official at a media briefing this year. It’s also posted on the HHS Web site.
The Justice Department’s human trafficking task force in Washington has mounted an aggressive effort to find victims.
But at a meeting of the task force this year, then-coordinator Sharon Marcus-Kurn said that detectives had spent “umpteen hours of overtime” repeatedly interviewing women found in Korean- and Hispanic-owned brothels. “It’s very difficult to find any underlying trafficking that is there,” Marcus-Kurn told the group.
People trafficked into the United States have traditionally been the focus of the crackdown. In recent years, there has been increasing debate about whether the victim estimates should include U.S. citizens. For example, adult U.S. citizens forced into prostitution are also trafficking victims under federal law, but some say that such cases should be left to local police.
D.C.: A Trafficking Hub?
In a classroom at the D.C. police academy in January, President Bush appears on a screen at a mandatory training session in how to investigate and identify trafficking. The 55 officers who attended watch a slide show featuring testimonials from government officials and a clip from Bush’s 2003 speech to the United Nations.
Sally Stoecker, lead researcher for Shared Hope International in Arlington, which aims to increase awareness of sex trafficking, takes the microphone. “It’s a huge crime, and it’s continuing to grow,” Stoecker says, citing the government’s most recent estimate of victims.
The D.C. officers are among thousands of law enforcement officials nationwide who have been trained in how to spot trafficking. In Montgomery County, police have investigated numerous brothels since the force was trained in 2005 and last year. Officers have found a few trafficking victims, but there have been no prosecutions.
The Justice Department runs law enforcement task forces across the country. It’s a top priority for the department’s Civil Rights Division.
Justice officials have said there has been a 600 percent increase in U.S. cases. But the department said in a report last September: “In absolute numbers, it is true that the prosecution figures pale in comparison to the estimated scope of the problem.”
The 148 cases filed this decade by the Civil Rights Division and U.S. attorney’s offices might not include what Justice officials call a limited number of child trafficking prosecutions by the Criminal Division, Justice officials said Friday. They could not provide a number.
Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard E. Trodden, who studied trafficking for the Virginia Crime Commission, said he doesn’t know of any local prosecutions in Northern Virginia.
Nearly seven years after it began, the anti-trafficking campaign rolls on.
“This is important for me personally,” Gonzales said in January as he announced the creation of a Justice Department unit to focus on trafficking cases. Encouraged by Gonzales, who sent letters to all 50 governors, states continued to pass anti-trafficking laws.
Maryland enacted a law in May that toughens penalties.
Virginia has not taken legislative action; some legislators have said that a law isn’t needed.
HHS is still paying people to find victims. Last fall, the agency announced $3.4 million in new “street outreach” awards to 22 groups nationwide.
Nearly $125,000 went to Mosaic Family Services, a nonprofit agency in Dallas. For the past year, its employees have put out the word to hospitals, police stations, domestic violence shelters — any organization that might come into contact with a victim.
“They’re doing about a thousand different things,” said Bill Bernstein, Mosaic’s deputy director.
Three victims were found.
The Super Bowl Prostitute Myth: 100,000 Hookers Won’t Be Showing Up in Dallas
By Pete Kotz: From the Dallas Observer newspaper
published: January 27, 2011
The alarm bells reached peak decibel in November, when Dallas Police Sergeant Louis Felini told the The Dallas Morning News that between 50,000 and 100,000 prostitutes could descend on the metroplex for the Super Bowl. The call to outrage had sounded.
His estimate was astonishing. At the higher figure, it meant that every man, woman and child holding a ticket would have their own personal hooker, from the vice presidential wing of FedEx to Little Timmy from Green Bay.
And if you believed a study commissioned by the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the hordes would include 38,000 underage prostitutes. Doe-eyed beauties from the Heartland would be peddled like Jell-O shots at the Delta Phi soiree.
Official Dallas would not be caught flat-footed. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the FBI pledged extra manpower to fight “human trafficking.” The Arlington Police Department put up billboards near Cowboys Stadium. They featured flashing photos of busted johns, warning visitors: We don’t take kindly to perverts like you, son.
Even the Shapiro Law Firm leaped in. Noting that an estimated 40,000 hookers showed up in Dallas for the NBA All-Star game last year, it wanted to make sure that, should a hedge fund manager find himself ensnared in naked compromise, “our attorneys provide experienced defense for sex crimes, including the solicitation of a prostitute.”
The city was gearing up for a massive invasion of skanks and sex fiends. It would be like Normandy, only with way more plastic surgery—the largest single gathering of freaks and pedophiles the world has ever seen. At least outside of a Vatican staff meeting.
But if Dallas is like any other Super Bowl—or Olympics or World Cup, for that matter—today’s four-alarm panic will tinkle as softly as a servant’s bell by next week. All evidence says that America’s call girls will be at home, watching the game of TV, just like you and me.
Judging by Super Bowls past, the mass migration of teenage sex slaves is nothing more than myth.
Read between his very terse lines, and you can tell that Brian McCarthy isn’t happy. He’s a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he’s forced to hear from mopes like yours truly, wondering why his customers are adulterers and child molesters.
The routine is the same in every Super Bowl city. The media beats the drum of impending invasion, warning that anywhere from 15,000 to 100,000 hookers will soon arrive. Politicians lather on their special sauce of manufactured outrage. Cops and prosecutors vow stings and beefed up manpower.
By implication, the NFL’s wealthiest and most connected fans—captains of industry and senators from Utah—will be plotting a week of sexual rampage not seen since the Vikings sailed on Scotland. And they must be stopped.
“This is urban legend that is pure pulp fiction,” the NFL’s McCarthy says. “I would refer you to your local law enforcement officials.”
So that’s what we did. Meet police Sergeant Tommy Thompson of Phoenix, which hosted the 2008 Super Bowl. “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes,” Thompson says of his vice cops. “They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”
Conspicuously noted: He doesn’t recall a single arrest of an underage girl.
Perhaps Phoenix was an anomaly. So let’s go to Tampa, host of Super Bowl 2009. Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis says her department ran special operations on the sex trade. They came up empty. “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa,” she says. “The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”
Now it could be that both departments are incompetent, mistaking tens of thousands of women in fishnet stockings for a very large synchronized swimming team. So let’s travel to Europe, where the hooker influx for the World Cup is routinely pegged at 40,000. If anyone’s going to break the record for the world’s largest orgy, it’s the Godless Eurotrash, right?
Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup. U.S congressmen warned the promiscuous Krauts that fleshly opportunism would not be tolerated. So the government spent millions of euros to crush human trafficking. No one could say the Germans were perv enablers.
But apparently 39,995 of the blasphemers had carburetor trouble in Prague and never showed. The final Cup tally for forced prostitution arrests: 5. German brothels couldn’t even report a surge in business. And a further study by the Swedish government ruled “the 40,000 estimate was unfounded and unrealistic.”
There don’t appear to be solid figures for last summer’s South African Cup, but anecdotal evidence says the sex business was slow.
The only concrete numbers we have: Museums showed record attendance.
This isn’t to say that the sex trade isn’t alive and well. It is. Nor is it to imply there are no such thing as teen prostitutes. There are. The problem is that most of what we believe remains fixed in a blaxploitation film from 1973, where menacing pimps named Lester beat their weeping charges with diamond-encrusted canes.
Ask Maggie McNeill.
That’s not her real name. It’s the pen name she uses on her website, The Honest Courtesan, where she dispenses wisdom on all things hooker. She ran an escort service in New Orleans for six years, supplying ladies for the 2002 Super Bowl. As she sees it, almost all we believe about the industry is fallacy.
“Pimps do exist,” she says, “but they’re a relatively rare phenomenon.” The vast majority of hookers are willing, independent contractors.
Underage hookers are also “extremely rare,” McNeill says. Over the years, she fielded a few hundred applications from ladies of the eve. Only one didn’t pass a drivers license check.
Sure, there are exceptions. But McNeill doesn’t think huge numbers of hookers are going anywhere. And they won’t be heading to Dallas for a very simple reason: Sporting events suck for the sex trade.
The younger fans have already spent thousands on jacked-up hotel rates, airfare and scalped tickets, she says. They only have enough left to nurse Bud Lights and Jäger bombs.
The executive caste may have money to burn, but most bring their families along. “What do they say to their wives?” McNeill asks. “‘Hey honey, I’m going to see a hooker now?'”
As for McNeill’s experience during Super Bowl week in New Orleans: “I really saw no change whatsoever.”
So how do these myths get started? Through good intentions, of course.
There’s no way to quantify the number of hookers, since most women won’t admit to their profession. Public confession only brings an audit from the IRS or a visit from child welfare workers.
That leaves the outside world to speculate—usually with stats only appreciated after eight beers near closing time. Professors pitch junk studies whereby every runaway girl is a potential prostitute.
Advocacy groups take those numbers and fan them by the thousands, buffing them with lurid anecdotes of “sex slaves” and “victims of human trafficking.” The fervent simply can’t believe that isolated cases are just that: isolated.
But it’s hard to kindle interest in the world’s oldest profession. So they latch onto the occasional news story or CNN special. After all, children in distress sell.
“Underage girls make better victims, better poster children,” says McNeill, a former librarian with a master’s from LSU. “I’m 44. What kind of believable victim would I make?”
The study by the Dallas Women’s Foundation shows how the numbers are baked. It hired a company to gauge the percentage of juvenile hookers in Dallas. Its scientific method: Look at online escort ads and guess the ages of the women pictured!
Never mind that escort services often yank said photos from the Internet to put their most sultry visual forward. And never mind that such methodology wouldn’t pass muster at Mert’s Discount Community College & Small Engine Repair.
The company still decreed that 38 percent of Dallas hookers were underage!
(Disclosure: The Dallas Observer and Backpage are owned by the same parent company, Village Voice Media Holdings.)
Not ones to miss 30 seconds of free air time, that’s when the politicians climb aboard. After all, what would you rather do? Be fitted for the role of child-rescuing hero at a congressional hearing or a press conference? Or sit down to the complex, painful task of addressing America’s age-old runaway problem?
Of course, we in the media are equally culpable. We dutifully relay the fraud via our Patented Brand of Unquestioning Stenography, rarely bothering to check if it’s remotely plausible. And by this time, there’s no going back. The fraud must be upheld. Charities have raised money to help the innocents. Politicians have brayed and task forces have been appointed. Editors and news directors have ordered five-part series. No one wants to look like a moron.
But the week after every Super Bowl, they all go quiet.
Either the 100,000 hookers never showed, or they were in dastardly possession of super invisible powers.
Maybe it will be different in Dallas, with its all-hands-on-deck vigilance. Perhaps next week’s dockets will be sagging with thousands of runaway middle-school volleyball stars. Perhaps the Shapiro Law Firm will be giving a bulk rate to the entire roster of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.
Super Bowl prostitution: 100,000 hookers didn’t show, but America’s latest political scam did.
Pete Kotz: From the Dallas Observer newspaper
published: March 03, 2011
Had elected officials done even the slightest research, they would have known it was myth. But this had little to do with protecting women and children. Think of it as a combination religious revival and political scam.
Politicians, women’s groups, cops and child advocates were predicting that up to 100,000 hookers would be shipped into Dallas for the Super Bowl. It would be akin to the invasion of Normandy—with silicone and come-hither poses at no extra charge.
Yet someone forgot to tell America’s prostitutes they had an appointment with destiny. The arrest numbers are now in. The hookers failed to show.
It was folly from the outset, of course. To buy the hype, you had to believe that the NFL’s wealthiest fans stuffed their carry-on luggage with searing libidinal hunger. Though by day they pretended to be mercantile saints from the pages of the Wall Street Journal, they were actually marauding sex fiends. Their plot: Turn Hilton hot tubs into naked versions of the New York Stock Exchange.
And if that wasn’t enough to scare the good citizens of Dallas, women’s groups slathered the plot with surplus outrage. Up to 38,000 of these hookers would be child sex slaves, according to a study by the Dallas Women’s Foundation. They’d presumably been kidnapped en masse while waiting in line at the mall Cinnabon, then shipped to Dallas for deflowering by venture capitalists and frozen-food barons.
America’s human trafficking epidemic was coming to North Texas. The Super Bowl would be ground zero.
Conveniently, the same people making the claims reserved the roles of hero for themselves. Worry not, good people of Dallas: They would repel the infidels at the city gates.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott puffed his chest and promised dozens of extra bodies. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security linked arms with 13 state and local police agencies in a task force. Even the airline industry leaped in, training flight attendants to spot the indentured.
Linda Smith, a former Washington congresswoman and founder of Shared Hope International, announced her date with gallantry in The Dallas Morning News. “Now that I know it, I have no choice but to stand and fight,” she said. “This is just brutal, brutal slavery of girls.”
Deena Graves, executive director of the Christian group Traffick911, took it even further, framing the clash as nothing short of Jesus vs. Depravity. God Himself had naturally anointed her as His general.
“We believe, without a doubt, that God gave us the Super Bowl this year to raise awareness of what’s happening with these kids,” she told the Morning News.
But since they hadn’t bothered to do the research, they would be forced to clash swords with an imaginary foe. Such is the burden of the selfless crusader.
From Germany to Miami, the same hysteria precedes every big sporting event, be it the Super Bowl, the World Cup, or the Olympics. The only difference is that Dallas, befitting its perch as buckle of the Bible Belt, jacked up the decibels.
Before every big game, church bells ring of a massive hooker invasion. Incurious newspapers parrot the claims;a five-minute Google search being too much trouble. Then politicians and activists climb aboard.
The recipe for civic panic is placed in the oven, set for baking to a charred husk.
Yet when each event ends with just a handful of arrests, police admit the invasion was nothing more than myth. The panic whimpers away to seclusion, only to resurrect itself just in time for the next big show.
Detectives from Dallas to Plano, Forth Worth to Irving saw no spikes in sex traffic or signs of the occupiers.
“Everybody else is talking about special operations, the AG comes in talking about special operations, but this is what we do,” says Sergeant Byron Fassett, head of the Dallas PD’s human trafficking unit. “We didn’t have to do a special operation. We do special operations all the time, and this was one of them.”
In other words, it was just another week of playing cat and mouse with the world’s oldest profession.
Arlington, host to the game, unleashed extra manpower and bagged an impressive 59 arrests. But it found scant evidence of erotic hordes. Of the 100,000 supposedly Lone Star-bound hookers, Deputy Chief Jaime Ayala says, only 13 were found by his guys. Their busts largely involved rousting the local talent.
ICE Spokesman Carl Rusnok says there were 105 prostitution arrests metro-wide. But what was billed as a bare-naked onslaught fell rather short. Just to reach three figures, ICE had to include 12 Class C misdemeanors—the legal equivalent of a speeding ticket.
Rusnok hints at more nefarious busts for human trafficking, but he refuses to provide names, charges or anything else that would allow for verification.
The 38,000 teen slaves also proved elusive. Police managed to find just two—and they were Texas-grown.
Anthony Winn, a 35-year-old degenerate from Austin, had been pimping out a 20-year-old woman when he decided to peddle her 14-year-old sister as well.
The trio showed up in Dallas for the big game. But the older sister objected to the selling of the younger one. So when Dallas police encountered them on the street, the women quickly ratted out Winn.
In Grapevine, another local was busted for chauffeuring a 17-year-old hooker on her rounds.
Meanwhile, church groups and activists were out en masse. But if they were truly aligned with God, He preferred they stick to generating headlines and hurling logs on the flames of panic. He apparently neglected to grant them the power of rescue. As far as anyone can tell, not one of their tips led to an arrest. Had anyone bothered to ask police in previous Super Bowl cities, they would have told you this would happen. There’s zero evidence that American hookers have ever traveled like Spanish armadas.
As for widespread sex slavery, this too is a myth. The U.S. government has known it for years.
Like most industrialized countries, the feds began worrying about human trafficking in the late ’90s, a fear born from the slavery problems of the Third World. At the time, evidence from police suggested it was an insidious, though relatively rare, crime. But that didn’t stop politicians and activists from declaring it a pandemic.
Out of thin air, they began to trumpet that 50,000 people were being forcibly trafficked in America each year. The
Clinton administration declared jihad. President George W. Bush dilated the war, creating 42 Justice Department task forces countrywide.
But when you weld a fabricated enemy, meager scalp counts leave boasting a challenge. Just like the soldiers of pre-Super Bowl Dallas, they had braced themselves for imaginary strife.
Six years into his presidency, Bush had burned through $150 million on the fray. But of the 300,000 supposed victims during that time, the Justice Department managed to find just 1,362. Less than half were actual sex slaves. An even smaller number were underage prostitutes.
That’s because human trafficking, as defined by the government, isn’t solely about sex. It’s usually about forced labor. Think of the Chinese man made to work in a kitchen to reimburse a snakehead’s smuggling fee. Or the Mexican kid forced to toil on a Kansas farm.
By the time anyone realized all that money was flowing for naught, no one was brave enough to tighten the spigot. In Washington, it’s far better to waste millions than give the appearance you don’t care about kids.
Steve Wagner knows this. He worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serving as director of the Human Trafficking Program under Bush. He threw millions of dollars at community groups to aid victims. Yet as he told the Washington Post in 2007, “Those funds were wasted….They were available to help victims. There weren’t any victims.”
Ten years into the war, one might assume intellectual honesty would sand down the rhetoric. But the opposite is happening. The fight’s simply moved away from protecting women and children. It’s now a holy war for the sanctity of revenue streams.
The church and women’s groups who profited from battle are loath to acknowledge they spent the past decade doing little more than polishing their guns. So forgive them for worrying.
Recession has made donations harder to field. D.C.’s coming austerity means grants will be macheted. That’s left the nonprofit world in a panic.
It isn’t easy to get donors and congressmen to slap down checks for the time-honored fight against prostitution, runaways and kids seeking the fascinating life of a crack head.
So women’s and children’s groups simply decided to change their PR. Suddenly, prostitution was no longer about prostitution. It was all about sexual slavery and human trafficking. And they began blowing up their numbers with helium.
But maybe Traffick911’s Deena Graves is right. Perhaps God has called her and others to fight demons unseen by the re st of us. It’s just that he hasn’t given them the power to find all those victims. He does work in mysterious ways, after all.
–With Reporting by Patrick Michels
Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution
By Nick Davies – The Guardian News, Tuesday October 20, 2009
The UK’s biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country.
The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.
Current and former ministers have claimed that thousands of women have been imported into the UK and forced to work as sex slaves, but most of these statements were either based on distortions of quoted sources or fabrications without any source at all.
While some prosecutions have been made, the Guardian investigation suggests the number of people who have been brought into the UK and forced against their will into prostitution is much smaller than claimed; and that the problem of trafficking is one of a cluster of factors which expose sex workers to coercion and exploitation.
Acting on the distorted information, the government has produced a bill, now moving through its final parliamentary phase, which itself has provoked an outcry from sex workers who complain that, instead of protecting them, it will expose them to extra danger.
When police in July last year announced the results of Operation Pentameter Two, Jacqui Smith, then home secretary, hailed it as “a great success”. Its operational head, Tim Brain, said it had seriously disrupted organised crime networks responsible for human trafficking. “The figures show how successful we have been in achieving our goals,” he said.
Those figures credited Pentameter with “arresting 528 criminals associated with one of the worst crimes threatening our society”. But an internal police analysis of Pentameter, obtained by the Guardian after a lengthy legal struggle, paints a very different picture.
The analysis, produced by the police Human Trafficking Centre in Sheffield and marked “restricted”, suggests there was a striking shortage of sex traffickers to be found in spite of six months of effort by all 55 police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland together with the UK Border Agency, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, the Foreign Office, the Northern Ireland Office, the Scottish government, the Crown Prosecution Service and various NGOs in what was trumpeted as “the largest ever police crackdown on human trafficking”.
The analysis reveals that 10 of the 55 police forces never found anyone to arrest. And 122 of the 528 arrests announced by police never happened: they were wrongly recorded either through honest bureaucratic error or apparent deceit by forces trying to chalk up arrests which they had not made. Among the 406 real arrests, more than half of those arrested (230) were women, and most were never implicated in trafficking at all.
Of the 406 real arrests, 153 had been released weeks before the police announced the success of the operation: 106 of them without any charge at all and 47 after being cautioned for minor offences. Most of the remaining 253 were not accused of trafficking: 73 were charged with immigration breaches; 76 were eventually convicted of non-trafficking offences involving drugs, driving or management of a brothel; others died, absconded or disappeared off police records.
Although police described the operation as “the culmination of months of planning and intelligence-gathering from all those stakeholders involved”, the reality was that, during six months of national effort, they found only 96 people to arrest for trafficking, of whom 67 were charged.
Forty-seven of those never made it to court.
Only 22 people were finally prosecuted for trafficking, including two women who had originally been “rescued” as supposed victims. Seven of them were acquitted. The end result was that, after raiding 822 brothels, flats and massage parlours all over the UK, Pentameter finally convicted of trafficking a grand total of only 15 men and women.
Police claimed that Pentameter used the international definition of sex trafficking contained in the UN’s Palermo protocol, which involves the use of coercion or deceit to transport an unwilling man or woman into prostitution. But, in reality, Pentameter used a very different definition, from the UK’s 2003 Sexual Offences Act, which makes it an offence to transport a man or woman into prostitution even if this involves assisting a willing sex worker.
Internal police documents reveal that 10 of Pentameter’s 15 convictions were of men and women who were jailed on the basis that there was no evidence of their coercing the prostitutes they had worked with. There were just five men who were convicted of importing women and forcing them to work as prostitutes. These genuinely were traffickers, but none of them was detected by Pentameter, although its investigations are still continuing.
Two of them — Zhen Xu and Fei Zhang — had been in custody since March 2007, a clear seven months before Pentameter started work in October 2007.
The other three, Ali Arslan, Edward Facuna and Roman Pacan, were arrested and charged as a result of an operation which began when a female victim went to police in April 2006, well over a year before Pentameter Two began, although the arrests were made while Pentameter was running.
The head of the UK Human Trafficking Centre, Grahame Maxwell, who is chief constable of North Yorkshire, acknowledged the importance of the figures: “The facts speak for themselves. I’m not trying to argue with them in any shape or form,” he said.
He said he had commissioned fresh research from regional intelligence units to try to get a clearer picture of the scale of sex trafficking. “What we’re trying to do is to get it gently back to some reality here,” he said.
“It’s not where you go down on every street corner in every street in Britain, and there’s a trafficked individual.
“There are more people trafficked for labour exploitation than there are for sexual exploitation. We need to redress the balance here. People just seem to grab figures from the air.”
Groups who work with trafficked women declined to comment on the figures from the Pentameter Two police operation but said that the problem of trafficking was real.
Ruth Breslin, research and development manager for Eaves which runs the Poppy project for victims of trafficking, said: “I don’t know the ins and outs of the police operation. It is incredibly difficult to establish prevalence because of the undercover and potentially criminal nature of trafficking and also, we feel, because of the fear that many women have in coming forward.”
The internal analysis of Pentameter notes that some records could not be found and Brain, who is chief constable of Gloucestershire, argued that some genuine traffickers may have been charged with non-trafficking offences because of the availability of evidence but he conceded that he could point to no case where this had happened.
He said the Sexual Offences Act was “not user friendly” although he said he could not recall whether he had pointed this out to government since the end of Pentameter Two.
Parliament is in the final stages of passing the policing and crime bill which contains a proposal to clamp down on trafficking by penalising any man who has sex with a woman who is “controlled for gain” even if the man is genuinely ignorant of the control. Although the definition of “controlled” has been tightened, sex workers’ groups complain that the clause will encourage women to prove that they are not being controlled by working alone on the streets or in a flat without a maid, thus making them more vulnerable to attack.
There are also fears that if the new legislation deters a significant proportion of customers, prostitutes will be pressurised to have sex without condoms in order to bring them back.
The following correction was printed in the Guardian’s Corrections and clarifications column, Saturday 14 November 2009
In the report above about sex trafficking we referred to the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre as “the police Human Trafficking Centre”. The UKHTC describes itself as “a multi-agency centre” and says that it is “police led”. Its partners include two non-governmental organisations, HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the UK Border Agency. We referred to Grahame Maxwell as the head of the UKHTC; his title is programme director.
Nick Davies The Guardian News, Tuesday October 20, 2009
In the story of UK sex trafficking, the conclusions of academics who study the sex trade have been subjected to the same treatment as the restrained reports of intelligence analysts who studied Iraqi weapons – stripped of caution, stretched to their most alarming possible meaning and tossed into the public domain. There, they have been picked up by the media who have stretched them even further in stories which have then been treated as reliable sources by politicians, who in turn provided quotes for more misleading stories.
In both cases, the cycle has been driven by political opportunists and interest groups in pursuit of an agenda. In the case of sex trafficking, the role of the neo-conservatives and Iraqi exiles has been played by an unlikely union of evangelical Christians with feminist campaigners, who pursued the trafficking tale to secure their greater goal, not of regime change, but of legal change to abolish all prostitution. The sex trafficking story is a model of misinformation. It began to take shape in the mid 1990s, when the collapse of economies in the old Warsaw Pact countries saw the working flats of London flooded with young women from eastern Europe. Soon, there were rumours and media reports that attached a new word to these women. They had been “trafficked”.
And, from the outset, that word was a problem. On a strict definition, eventually expressed in international law by the 2000 Palermo protocol, sex trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to transport an unwilling victim into sexual exploitation. This image of sex slavery soon provoked real public anxiety.
But a much looser definition, subsequently adopted by the UK’s 2003 Sexual Offences Act, uses the word to describe the movement of all sex workers, including willing professionals who are simply travelling in search of a better income. This wider meaning has injected public debate with confusion and disproportionate anxiety.
Two academics from the University of North London, Liz Kelly and Linda Regan, tried to estimate the number of women who had been trafficked in the UK during the calendar year 1998, an exercise which they honestly described as “problematic”.
First, there was the problem of the word, which Kelly and Regan solved by accepting all variations of its meaning. Then, there was the shortage of facts. They spoke to specialists, studied news reports and surveyed police, who reported that 71 women had been “trafficked”, whether willingly or not, during 1998. In Stopping Traffic, which they published in May 2000, Kelly and Regan argued that the real scale of the problem was probably bigger than this and, in the absence of any accurate data, they made various assumptions which they themselves described as “speculative”.
At the very least, they guessed, there could be another 71 trafficked women who had been missed by police, which would double the total, to 142. At the most, they suggested, the true total might be 20 times higher, at 1,420.
But reaching this figure involved a further quadrupling of the number of victims missed by police, plus quadrupling existing estimates by sex health workers, plus assuming the accuracy of a newspaper report that “hundreds” of women had been trafficked into the UK from Albania and Kosovo, plus assuming that mail-order brides were also victims of trafficking, plus adding women who were transported within the UK as well as those brought into the UK.
Kelly and Regan were transparent and honest about the speculative character of their assumptions. They were clear about their adoption of the widest possible meaning of the term. They presented their conclusion with caution: “It can be estimated that the true scale of trafficking may be between two and 20 times that which has been confirmed.”
And they presented their conclusion as a range of possibilities: “It is recognised that this is a wide range, but it indicates the likely scale of the problem while reflecting the poverty of information in this area.”
During the following years, the subject attracted the attention of religious groups, particularly the Salvation Army and an umbrella group of evangelicals called Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe (Chaste). Chaste explicitly campaigned for an end to all prostitution and, quoting their commitment to the principles of the Kingdom of God, they were enlisted as specialist advisers to the police.
Chaste took the work of Kelly and Regan, brought the estimate forward by two years, stripped out all the caution, headed for the maximum end of the range and declared : “An estimated 1,420 women were trafficked into the UK in 2000 for the purposes of constrained prostitution.”
The misleading figure was repeated in news stories and adopted by politicians. Even the government’s Crimestoppers campaign recycled it. And over and over again, the absence of a definition in the original work was replaced with the certainty that this was about women who were forced to work against their will. Chaste spoke repeatedly about “sexual enslavement” and “sex slavery”.
Three years after the Kelly/Regan work was published, in 2003, a second team of researchers was commissioned by the Home Office to tackle the same area. They, too, were forced to make a set of highly speculative assumptions: that every single foreign woman in the “walk-up” flats in Soho had been smuggled into the country and forced to work as a prostitute; that the same was true of 75% of foreign women in other flats around the UK and of 10% of foreign women working for escort agencies. Crunching these percentages into estimates of the number of foreign women in the various forms of sex work, they came up with an estimate of 3,812 women working against their will in the UK sex trade.
Margin of error
The researchers ringed this figure with warnings. The data, they said, was “very poor” and quantifying the subject was “extremely difficult”. Their final estimate was “very approximate”, “subject to a very large margin of error” and “should be treated with great caution” and the figure of 3,812 “should be regarded as an upper bound”.
No chance. In June 2006, before the research had even been published, the then Home Office minister Vernon Coaker ignored the speculative nature of the assumptions behind the figure, stripped out all the caution, headed for the maximum end of the range and then rounded it up, declaring to an inquiry into sex trafficking by the Commons joint committee on human rights: “There are an estimated 4,000 women victims.”
The Christian charity Care announced: “In 2003, the Home Office estimated there were 4,000 women and girls in the UK at any one time that had been trafficked into forced prostitution.” The Salvation Army went further: “The Home Office estimated that in 2003 … there were at least 4,000 trafficked women residing in the UK. This figure is believed to be a massive underestimation of the problem.” Anti-Slavery International joined them, converting what the Home Office researchers had described as a “very approximate” estimate into “a very conservative estimate”.
The Home Office, at least, having commissioned the research, was in a position to remind everybody of its authors’ warnings. Except it didn’t.
In March 2007, it produced the UK Action Plan on Human Trafficking and casually reproduced the figure of 4,000 without any of the researchers’ cautions.
The evidence was left even further behind as politicians took up the issue as a rallying call for feminists. They were led by the Labour MP for Rotherham and former Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane, who took to describing London as “Europe’s capital for under-aged trafficked sex slaves”. In a debate in the Commons in November 2007, MacShane announced that “according to Home Office estimates, 25,000 sex slaves currently work in the massage parlours and brothels of Britain.”
There is simply no Home Office source for that figure, although it has been reproduced repeatedly in media stories.
Two months later, in another Commons debate, MacShane used the same figure, but this time he attributed it to the Daily Mirror, which had indeed run a story in October 2005 with the headline “25,000 Sex Slaves on the Streets of Britain.” However, the newspaper had offered no evidence at all to support the figure. On the contrary, the body of its story used a much lower figure, of between 2,000 and 6,000 brought in each year, and attributed this to unnamed Home Office officials, even though the Home Office has never produced any research which could justify it.
MacShane was not deterred.
“I used to work for the Daily Mirror, so I trust the report,” he said.
The then solicitor general, Vera Baird, replied by warning MacShane that “we think that his numbers from the Daily Mirror are off” and then recycled the figure of 4,000 without any of the researchers’ cautions. MacShane then switched line and started to claim, for example in a letter to the Guardian in September 2008, that there were “18,000 women, often young girls, trafficked into Britain as sex slaves.” He used this same figure in another debate in the House of Commons, adding “We have to get the facts and figures right.”
On this occasion, the source he was quoting was Pentameter Two, the six-month national police operation which failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution. But MacShane had a point: presenting the results of the operation to the press in July 2008, its operational head, Tim Brain, the chief constable of Gloucester, was widely reported to have said that there were now 18,000 victims of trafficking in the UK and that this included under-age girls.
Other senior figures who were involved with this press conference say they were taken completely by surprise by Brain’s claim. “None of us knew where that came from,” according to one senior figure. “It wasn’t in his pre-brief. It wasn’t in anything: ministers weren’t briefed. Tim may have meant to say 1,800 and just got his figures mixed up.”
Brain now agrees that the figure is not correct and suggested to the Guardian that he had been trying to estimate the total number of prostitutes in the UK, not the total number of trafficked women.
But the damage had been done. Patrick Hall, Labour MP for Bedford, solemnly told the House of Commons that there was sex trafficking “in towns and villages throughout the land.”
Fiona Mactaggart, a former Home Office minister, in January 2008 outstripped MacShane’s estimates, telling the House of Commons that she regarded all women prostitutes as the victims of trafficking, since their route into sex work “almost always involves coercion, enforced addiction to drugs and violence from their pimps or traffickers.” There is no known research into UK prostitution which supports this claim.
In November 2008, Mactaggart repeated a version of the same claim when she told BBC Radio 4’s Today in Parliament that “something like 80% of women in prostitution are controlled by their drug dealer, their pimp, or their trafficker.” Again, there is no known source for this.
Challenged to justify this figure by a different Radio 4 programme, More or Less, in January 2009, Mactaggart claimed that it comes from the Home Office’s 2004 report on prostitution, Paying the Price. But there is no sign of the figure in the report.
In the summer of 2004, The Poppy Project, which is committed to ending all prostitution on the grounds that it “helps to construct and maintain gender inequality”, surveyed London prostitutes working in flats and found that 80% of them were foreign, a finding which is well supported. They then added, without any clear evidence, that “a large proportion of them are likely to have been trafficked into the country”, a conclusion which is challenged by specialist police, but which was then recycled through numerous media reports and political claims.
Last year (2008), Poppy published a report called The Big Brothel, which claimed to be the most comprehensive study ever conducted into brothels in the UK and which claimed to have found “indicators of trafficking in every borough of London”.
That report was subsequently condemned in a joint statement from 27 specialist academics who complained that it was “framed by a pre-existing political view of prostitution”. The academics said there were “serious flaws” in the way that data had been collected and analysed; that the reliability of the data was “extremely doubtful”; and that the claims about trafficking “cannot be substantiated.”
But by that time, the report had generated a mass of news stories, most of which took the unreliable results and overstated them. Like Chaste, the Poppy Project, which has been paid nearly £6m to shelter trafficked women, has been drafted in to advise police and until recently used office space in the Sheffield headquarters of the UK Human Trafficking Centre.
The cacophony of voices has created the illusion of confirmation.
Politicians and religious groups still repeat the media story that 40,000 prostitutes were trafficked into Germany for the 2006 world cup – long after leaked police documents revealed there was no truth at all in the tale. The Daily Mirror’s baseless claim of 25,000 trafficking victims is still being quoted, recently, for example, by the Salvation Army in written evidence to the home affairs select committee, in which they added : “Other studies done by media have suggested much higher numbers.”
Somewhere beneath all this, there is a reality. There have been real traffickers.
Since the Sexual Offences Act came into force in January 2004, internal police documents show that 46 men and women have been convicted and jailed for transporting willing sex workers and 59 people have been convicted for transporting women who were forced to work as prostitutes.
Ruth Breslin, research and development manager for Eaves, which runs the Poppy project, said: “I realise that the 25,000 figure, which is one that has been bandied about in the media, is one that doesn’t really have much of an evidence base and may be slightly subject to media hype. There is an awful lot of confusion in the media and other places between trafficking (unwilling victims) and smuggling (willing passengers). People do get confused and they are two very different things.”
She said that in the six and a half years since Poppy was founded, a total of 1,387 men and women had been referred to them, of whom they had taken in just over 500 women who they believed had been trafficked into sexual exploitation or domestic servitude by the use of coercion, deception or force. “I do think that there a lot more trafficked women out there than the women we see in our project. I do think there are significant numbers. I would say the figure is in the thousands. I don’t know about the tens of thousands. That’s probably going too far.”
Certainly there have been real victims, some of whom have been compensated as victims of crime. The internal analysis of Pentameter Two, obtained by the Guardian, reveals that after six months of raids across the UK, 11 women were finally “made safe”. This clashes with early police claims that Pentameter had rescued 351 victims. By the time that Brain held his press conference in July last year, that figure had been reduced to 167 victims who were said to have been “saved from lives of abuse, exploitation and misery”.
However, the internal analysis shows that supposed victims variously absconded from police, went home voluntarily, declined support, were removed by the UK Borders Agency or were prosecuted for various offences.
Dealing with this, the document explains: “The number of ‘potential victims’ has been refined as more informed decisions have been made about whether or not the individual is believed to be a victim of human trafficking for sexual exploitation … Initial considerations were made on limited information … When interviewed, the potential victim may make it clear that they are not in fact a victim of trafficking and/or inquiries may make it clear that they are not and/or inquiries may show that initial consideration was based on false or incomplete information.”
Research published recently by Dr Nick Mai of London Metropolitan University, concludes that, contrary to public perception, the majority of migrant sex workers have chosen prostitution as a source of “dignified living conditions and to increase their opportunities for a better future while dramatically improving the living conditions of their families in the country of origin”. After detailed interviews with 100 migrant sex workers in the UK, Mai found: “For the majority, working in the sex industry was a way to avoid the exploitative working conditions they had met in their previous non-sexual jobs.”
The UK Network of Sex Work Projects, whose outreach workers deal with thousands of prostitutes, told the home affairs select committee last year: “It is undoubtedly the case that women are trafficked into the sex industry. However, the proportion of sex workers of whom this is true is relatively small, both compared to the sex industry as a whole and to other industries.” The chairman of that committee, Keith Vaz, observed: “We are told that this is the second largest problem facing the globe after drugs and we do not seem to be able to find the people responsible.”
For the police, the misinformation has succeeded in diverting resources away from other victims. Specialist officers who deal with trafficking have told the Guardian that although they will continue to monitor all forms of trafficking, they are now shifting their priority away from the supposed thousands of sex slaves towards the movement within the UK of children who are being sexually abused. They say they are also dealing with more cases where illegal migrant workers of all kinds, including willing sex workers, find themselves being ripped off and overcharged for their transport.
However, the key point is that on the sidelines of a debate which has been dominated by ideology, a chorus of alarm from the prostitutes themselves is singing out virtually unheard. In the cause of protecting “thousands” of victims of trafficking, Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader and minister for women and equality, has led the parliamentary campaign for a law to penalise men who pay for sex with women who are “controlled for gain” even if the men do so in genuine ignorance.
Repeatedly, prostitutes groups have argued that the proposal is as wrong as the trafficking estimates on which it is based, and that it will aggravate every form of jeopardy which they face in their work, whether by encouraging them to work alone in an attempt to show that they are free of control or by pressurising them to have sex without condoms to hold on to worried customers. Thus far, their voices remain largely ignored by news media and politicians who, once more, have been swept away on a tide of misinformation.
• This article was amended on Thursday 19 November 2009. We said that the Poppy Project had an office in the Sheffield headquarters of the UK Human Trafficking Centre. That is no longer the case. This has been corrected.
Women’s Funding Network Sex Trafficking Study Is Junk Science. Schapiro Group data wasn’t questioned by mainstream media
By Nick Pinto of Village Voice Media
published: March 23, 2011
During the same September hearing of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary, members of Congress listened to vivid and chilling accounts regarding underage prostitution.
The congressmen heard testimony from half a dozen nonprofit executives and law enforcement officials. But the most alarming words of the day came from Deborah Richardson, the chief program officer of the Women’s Funding Network. She told legislators that juvenile prostitution is exploding at an astronomical rate.
“An independent tracking study released today by the Women’s Funding Network shows that over the past six months, the number of underage girls trafficked online has risen exponentially in three diverse states,” Richardson claimed. “Michigan: a 39.2 percent increase; New York: a 20.7 percent increase; and Minnesota: a staggering 64.7 percent increase.”
In the wake of this bombshell revelation, Richardson’s disturbing figures found their way into some of the biggest newspapers in the country. USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Detroit Free Press all repeated the dire statistics as gospel.
The successful assault on Craigslist was followed by a cross-country tour by Richardson and the Women’s Funding Network.
None of the media that published Richardson’s astonishing numbers bothered to examine the study at the heart of her claim. If they had, they would have found what we did after asking independent experts to examine the research: It’s junk science.
After all, the numbers are all guesses.
The data are based merely on looking at photos on the Internet. There is no science.
Eric Grodsky, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota who teaches about proper research construction, says that the study is fundamentally flawed.
“The method’s not clean,” Grodsky says. “You couldn’t get this kind of thing into a peer-reviewed journal. There are just too many unanswered questions about their methodology.”
Ric Curtis, the chairman of the Anthropology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, led a Justice Department-funded study on juvenile prostitution in New York City in 2008. He’s highly skeptical of the claims in the Women’s Funding Network’s study.
“I wouldn’t trust those numbers,” Curtis says. “This new study seems pretty bogus.”
In fact, the group behind the study admits as much. It’s now clear they used fake data to deceive the media and lie to Congress. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding.
“We pitch it the way we think you’re going to read it and pick up on it,” says Kaffie McCullough, the director of Atlanta-based anti-prostitution group A Future Not a Past. “If we give it to you with all the words and the stuff that is actually accurate—I mean, I’ve tried to do that with our PR firm, and they say, ‘They won’t read that much.'”
A Future Not a Past is a product of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, the Juvenile Justice Fund, and Harold and Kayrita Anderson’s foundation. To measure the amount of juvenile prostitution in the state, the consortium hired the Schapiro Group, an Atlanta business-consulting operation.
The Schapiro Group members weren’t academic researchers, and had no prior experience studying prostitution. In fact, the group was best known for research paid for by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. The study found—surprise—that membership in the Chamber of Commerce improves a business’s image.
The consultants came up with a novel, if not very scientific, method for tabulating juvenile prostitutes: They counted pictures of young-looking women on online classified sites.
“That’s one of the first problems right there,” Grodsky says. “These advertisers are in the business of making sales, and there’s a market for young-looking women. Why would you trust that the photographs are accurate?”
In other words, the ads, like the covers of women’s magazines, are relentlessly promoting fantasy. Anyone who has tried online dating understands the inherent trouble with trusting photographs.
Even if the person placing the advertisement is the one in the picture, there’s no telling how old the photo is, says David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
“How do you know when the pictures were taken?” Finkelhor asks. “It’s not illegal for an 18-year-old who’s selling sex to put up a picture of herself from when she was 16.”
And if, for the sake of argument, the photos were an accurate portrayal, how do you train those viewing the photographs to guess the correct age?
In fact, you don’t.
Before conducting its full study, the Schapiro Group tested the accuracy of its method in a sample of 100 observers. At one point, the 100 observers are described as a “random sample.” Elsewhere, they are described as “balanced by race and gender.”
These 100 adults were shown pictures of teenagers and young adults whose ages were known, and were asked to guess whether they were younger than 18.
“The study showed that any given ‘young’ looking girl who is selling sex has a 38 percent likelihood of being under age 18,” reads a crucial passage in the explanation of methodology. “Put another way, for every 100 ‘young’ looking girls selling sex, 38 are under 18 years of age. We would compute this by assigning a value of .38 to each of the 100 ‘young’ girls we encounter, then summing the values together to achieve a reliable count.”
This is dense gibberish posing as statistical analysis.
When the team went on to conduct its full statewide study, it simply treated this 38 percent success rate as a constant. Six new observers were then turned loose to count “young-looking” sex ads on online classifieds sites like Craigslist and Backpage.
That total count was then multiplied by .38 to come up with a guesstimate of how many children were being trafficked.
“This is a logical fallacy,” says Steve Doig, the Knight Chair in Journalism at Arizona State University, who reviewed the study at our request. “Consider this analogy: Imagine that 100 people were shown pictures of various automobiles and asked to identify the make, and that 38 percent of the time people misidentified Fords as Chevrolets. Using the Schapiro logic, this would mean that 38 percent of Fords on the street actually are Chevys.”
But the Georgia sponsors were happy with the results—after all, the scary-sounding study agreed with what they were saying all along. So the Women’s Funding Network paid Schapiro to dramatically expand the study to include Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Texas. (Georgia’s Kayrita Anderson sits on the board of the Women’s Funding Network)
The Women’s Funding Network says it would ultimately like to have the study running in all 50 states.
The count of online classifieds featuring “young women” is repeated every three months to track how the numbers change over time. That’s the source of the claim of a 64 percent increase in child prostitution in Minnesota in a matter of months.
But that’s not how a scientific study is supposed to work, says Finkelhor.
“They don’t tell you what the confidence intervals are, so these changes could just be noise,” he says. “When the Minnesota count goes from 102 to 112, that’s probably just random fluctuations.”
There’s a more fundamental issue, of course.
“The trend analysis is simply a function of the number of images on these sites,” Finkelhor says. “It’s not necessarily an indication that there’s an increase in the number of juveniles involved.”
Despite these flaws, the Women’s Funding Network, which held rallies across the nation, has been flogging the results relentlessly through national press releases and local member organizations. In press releases, the group goes so far as to compare its conjured-up data to actual hard numbers for other social ills.
“Monthly domestic sex trafficking in Minnesota is more pervasive than the state’s annually reported incidents of teen girls who died by suicide, homicide, and car accidents (29 instances combined); infants who died from SIDS (6 instances); or women of all ages murdered in one year (37 instances),” reads the study.
Of course, those other figures are rigorously compiled medical and law-enforcement records of actual documented incidents, so it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.
The police who tally many of those actual statistics—as well as records of real face-to-face encounters with juvenile prostitutes—don’t seem to be very impressed by the statistics put forward by the Women’s Funding Network.
“The methodology that they used doesn’t really show the numbers that back it up,” says Sgt. John Bandemer, who heads the Vick Human Trafficking Task Force in St. Paul. “We take it with a grain of salt.”
The experts we consulted all agreed the Schapiro Group’s published methodology raises more questions than it answers. So we went to the Schapiro Group to ask them.
Beth Schapiro founded the Schapiro Group in 1984, starting out mostly with political consulting. The bulk of the group’s work, Schapiro says, consists of public opinion research. In 2007, the group installed its own phone-banking center, and the group’s website advertises services ranging from customer satisfaction surveys to “voter persuasion calls.”
Counting hard-to-find exploitation victims wasn’t exactly in the company’s repertoire when it was asked by A Future Not a Past to devise a study on juvenile prostitution in 2007, but Schapiro jumped at the opportunity.
The Georgia studies included efforts to count juvenile prostitutes on the street, at hotels, and in escort services, but they also marked the debut of the problematic online classifieds study that would later be reproduced in other states.
In a phone call this month, Schapiro insisted that her study was the first effort ever to try to scientifically determine the number of juvenile prostitutes—a claim that would likely surprise the authors of dozens of previous studies, several of which are footnoted in her own report.
When we asked Schapiro and Rusty Parker, the leader of the classifieds study, to fill in some of the missing pieces in their methodology, they had a hard time coming up with straight answers. In fact, Parker couldn’t remember key information about how he constructed the study. When asked where he got the sample pictures used to calibrate the all-important 38 percent error rate, he wasn’t sure.
“It was a while back,” he says. “I forget exactly where we got them from.”
Parker was equally fuzzy on how the researchers knew the ages of the people pictured in the control group.
“Um…I’m afraid I do not remember,” he says.
You might say that this is important information. The Schapiro group has been telling the world that it cracked the alchemical code that transforms dumb guesses into hard statistics, and that the magic number is .38. But the leader of the study can’t remember the procedure he followed to get that number.
Neither Schapiro nor Parker had any answers when asked if there was any empirical reason to believe their two critical assumptions: that online photos always represent what the prostitutes actually look like, and that the six handpicked observers conducting the state studies have exactly the same error rate as the initial test batch of 100 random citizens.
Instead, Schapiro beat a hasty retreat, saying the study results shouldn’t be read as actual incidents of prostitution.
“We’re the first to tell you, this is not a precise count of the number of girls being prostituted,” Schapiro said. “We make no bones about that.”
Of course, a precise count of the number of girls being prostituted is exactly what the statistics are being presented as in the media, in press releases, and in Schapiro’s own study. When this is pointed out, Schapiro reverses herself.
“Well, yes, these are specific numbers,” Schapiro backpedals. “And yes, they are hard numbers, and they are numbers that we stand completely behind.”
This is the kind of cognitive whiplash you have to endure if you try to follow Schapiro down the rabbit hole. The numbers have the weight of fact and can properly be cited as actual incidents of juvenile prostitution, she insists. But when pressed to justify the broad and unsupported assumptions of her study, she says the study is just a work in progress and the numbers are only approximations.
Schapiro’s grasp on empirical rigor is such that when asked point-blank to choose between her two contradictory interpretations—estimates or facts—she opts for “all of the above.”
“I would square the circle by saying that you can look at them both ways,” she says.
Any reporter who had read the methodology of the Schapiro report would have been left with doubts, and any reporter who followed up would probably have been treated to the same baffling circuit of non-answers. The fact that the study’s findings continue to be rebroadcast in news outlets across the country suggests that not one reporter has bothered to read the study about which they are writing.
“You see this kind of thing a lot, unfortunately,” says Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for the Poynter Institute who writes frequently about statistics. “The kind of skepticism that reporters apply to a statement by a politician just doesn’t get applied to studies.”
David Finkelhor at the Crimes Against Children Research Center says he understands the pressure on reporters to cite figures when they’re writing about juvenile prostitution, but it’s something they need to resist, because despite what groups like the Women’s Funding Network would have you believe, there simply are no good statistics.
“You have to say, ‘We don’t know. Estimates have been made, but none of them have a real scientific basis to them,'” Finkelhor says. “All you can say is, ‘This is the number the police know about, and we think there are more than that, but we don’t know how many more.'”
In her own online photos, the woman who commissioned the Schapiro Group study looks to be in her 50s, with blue eyes, graying hair, and a taste for dangly earrings.
Kaffie McCullough first approached the Schapiro Group about conducting a study of juvenile prostitution in Georgia in 2007 when, as director of A Future Not a Past, she realized that having scientific-sounding numbers makes all the difference in the world.
In early 2007, McCullough approached the Georgia Legislature to ask for money for a regional assessment center to track juvenile prostitution.
“We had no research, no nothing. The legislators didn’t even know about it,” she recalls. “We got a little bit. We got about 20 percent of what we asked for.”
Later that year, the first Schapiro Group counts were made, and when McCullough returned to the Legislature the following session, she had the study’s statistics in hand.
“When we went to the Legislature with those counts, it gave us traction—night and day,” she says. “That year, we got all the rest of that money, plus we got a study commission.”
McCullough touts the fundraising benefits of the study whenever she can. Since the Schapiro study was picked up for replication nationwide by the Women’s Funding Network, McCullough has acted as a sort of technical consultant for state groups as they debate whether to invest money in the project. Whenever she’s asked, McCullough tells the local groups that the money they spend will come back to them with hefty dividends.
“I would say, ‘The research costs money, but we’ve been able to broker—I don’t know what it is now, I think it’s over $1.3, $1.6 million in funding that we never would have gotten,'” McCullough says.
McCullough initially maintained that she stands by the Schapiro Group study, in part because she has been told that “it is the same scientific methodology that science has been using for a long time to measure endangered species.”
But when pressed on whether she really believes that counting Internet photos is reliable, she grants the sex-work industry isn’t exactly the gold standard of truth in advertising.
“That’s absolutely correct,” she says. “That’s part of how that business operates: It’s a bait-and-switch.”
And given the tricky nature of the photographs, she admits that counting pictures isn’t exactly a precise way to measure juvenile prostitutes.
“I can’t guarantee that any picture that four of those six people said looked young—that may not be the girl that you’d get if you called up,” she concedes.
Asked if she has any reason to believe that the six observers in the study have the identical 38 percent error rate as the 100 random citizens who were the initial test subjects, she allows that it might be worth revisiting that question.
The basic truth is that the study exists in service of the advocacy, and if news outlets present the Schapiro Group’s numbers as gospel, it certainly doesn’t hurt the advocates’ cause.
Admitting that there isn’t any authoritative scientific count of juvenile prostitution, as Finkelhor recommends, isn’t an option in McCullough’s book. She recalls an early presentation she made in Nebraska, when a politician gave her a piece of advice that stuck.
“He said, ‘If you all as a movement don’t start having numbers, you are going to lose the money,'” McCullough recalls. “‘How can you justify millions of dollars when there are only hundreds of victims that you’re actually serving?'”
Last week, on March 16, the drumbeat continued in the U.S. Senate with a briefing on domestic minor sex trafficking that featured Hollywood actress Mira Sorvino and the startling statistic that 100,000 children are trafficked for sex annually in America.
Trafficking, in labor and sex, became a defining issue in the administration of President George W. Bush. But as an investigation by the Washington Post in 2007 revealed, victims in the sex trade were difficult to come by.
Today, advocates have shifted media attention to allegations of trafficking in children.
But facts to suggest a plague of underage perversion simply do not exist despite claims to the contrary.
In a deficit-obsessed Congress, there is a long line of those seeking tax dollars to raise awareness of trafficking: government agencies, nonprofits, religious groups, the well-intentioned, as well as abolitionists opposed to everything from pornography to adult services.
It is no surprise that some seek to use children as a wedge.
Responsible parties prosecute predators and rescue victims. Not everyone with a microphone is responsible.
The challenge of keeping children out of the hands of exploiters is real but solutions are not clear in an atmosphere of hyped hysteria.
The following article is written by Menstuff.org
“Tonight our cameras take you into a dark world you’ve never seen,” intoned John Quinones darkly on last week’s edition of ABC Primetime. “American girls being snatched right off Main Street USA. And they could be your very own daughters.” Shocking! The program went on to tell about two Arizona teens ñ both white and girl-next-door cute, who purportedly were minding their own business before being snatched from home and coerced into prostitution. Or “trafficking,” as Primetime put it. That was the show’s point: We already know that impoverished immigrants from the Eastern Europe and Mexico are enslaved here, but now we’ve got a new problem, the trafficking of our own, middle-class girls. Shocking! The show was full of dire warnings by government officials. Not surprising, since the Bush Administration’s mission to find foreign “sex trafficking” victims has gone belly up since it began in 2001. Almost no victims have been located, but the feds want to keep their law and rhetoric afloat and broaden it to other areas, including the culture wars. For ballast, they’re trolling for a domestic demographic, warning that kids and prostitution is a new “trafficking” problem.
But the claim is specious. To make it, you have to play with language and omit facts ñ or bend them so far that they break. That’s what Primetime did, Thursday, February 9, with two teens, one pseudonymed “Debbie,” and the other called by her real name, Miya.
Miya, according to ABC, was working in an Arizona mall when she was approached by a couple who asked if she’d like to come with them to California and be a model. She agreed, and before she knew it, she was being forcibly pimped through an Internet escort service and terrorized into sex slavery. One morning she managed to escape from the seedy hotel she was imprisoned in. Authorities were notified. Now one of her captors is in jail awaiting trial.
That’s the Primetime version, but the “sex slave” part is a hoax. Police in Mesa, Arizona and Union City, California, say that Miya — who was 19 and thus legally an adult — willingly went to California and willingly had sex, both with the couple she was with and with others. Said Tom Haselton, investigating sergeant for the case in Union City, “I can understand the family might be embarrassed and want to tell a different story. But by the time we were done talking with [Miya] we determined that what she did was consensual. There was no force used on her and she had plenty of opportunities to leave. And when she did leave, who did she call? Not the police, but a friend, just saying she wanted to get home to Arizona.” No charges regarding Miya were filed. The man she’d been with was charged because the female member of the couple was 16 — underage. Creepy, exploitative and illegal, but she wasn’t coerced either. “She seemed to be in love with the pimp,” says Haselton. “It’s an age-old story.”
Primetime’s other example of a “sex trafficked” teen, 15-year-old Debbie, is the alleged victim of some truly horrible assaults, and police don’t contest this. Even so, Primetime left out details of the case, making it seem more novel than it is. Debbie has said she was held at gunpoint in a Phoenix apartment and threatened with death and harm to her family unless she had sex with dozens of men. Often she was stuffed by her captors into a dog carrier and a bed frame. Her ordeal lasted over six weeks until she managed to sneak a call to her mother. Then she was rescued, and returned to what Primetime called her “close-knit” family. She’d been separated from them in the first place, Primetime reported, when she was “snatched” ñ as host John Quinones put it — right off her front lawn. That happened when a girl she knew only casually drove up to Debbie’s suburban house. Debbie stepped out of the house wearing Sponge-Bob pajamas. Suddenly she was pushed into the car and kidnapped.
But Phoenix Police Department press releases describe Debbie as a runaway. Police spokesman Andy Hill told me earlier this week that she was having problems with her family. She left home willingly with a friend, the girlfriend of a pimp, and a few hours later was herself dragooned into prostitution. Debbie’s is a story of gross coercion, but clearly there’s some background here. The vast majority of US kids who get involved with prostitution are runaways; this has been so for a very long time. That fact makes for yet another stale story. So it was left out of Primetime’s because it didn’t fit the boogie-man theme pushed these days when sex trafficking gets discussed — in the media and lately by the feds as well.
In that telling, little children are enslaved right in plain sight. Four-year olds are passed to pedophiles at Disneyland, 11-year-olds in communion dresses are sold to Mexican farmworker perverts. Despite ample evidence that these stories are urban myths, the New York Times Magazine cited them anyway and conjured dozens of child sex slaves in a piece by Peter Landesman that the magazine ran two years ago. Its title? “The Girls Next Door.” And last fall, the Lifetime television network ran a much- publicized drama in which a prepubescent white girl is kidnapped off the streets by a hi-tech trafficking ring that operates all across the globe and plans to sell her to “the Saudis.” This despite the fact that no such rings are known to exist.
Paranoid “white slavery” crusades date back to 19th-century England and America. Back then they promoted anti-immigrant and racist sentiments against Jews and others scapegoated for being kidnappers and panderers. They drove prostitutes who had heretofore worked independently into the hands of pimps. Meanwhile, they did virtually nothing to end prostitution.
Now, white-slave panic is being reincarnated by the federal government. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was launched five years ago with much fanfare from evangelicals in the Bush administration, feminists (many of who earlier worked with conservatives to try to outlaw pornography), and liberals concerned about forced-labor trafficking in general. Proponents predicted that thousands of forcibly sex-trafficked immigrant women would be found. Instead, a couple of hundred have turned up, at most.
But there are plenty of U.S.citizens who spend a little or a lot of time in prostitution. Quite a few are minors — as many as 300,000, estimates the new TVPA, which was enthusiastically rolled out by President Bush at a ceremony in January. Legally speaking, minors are always considered victims, even if they are not coerced. The new TVPA earmarks funds to label them as sex slaves.
No matter that most of these new “trafficking” victims are runaways and throwaways: often minorities, often poor, and often gay. No matter that they are seldom kidnapped or forced into prostitution, rarely fit the image of the girl next door, usually don’t think of themselves as “trafficking victims,” and typically distrust the police. No matter that we lack social services for them so they can live on their own and thrive if home is unbearable. These children are just an old story. They’re not ready for prime time.
But they are ready to fuel a movement most of the public hasn’t heard of yet. The domestic trafficking language of the TVPA was lifted from another piece of legislation, the “End Demand Act.” That bill aims to crack down on all prostitution in the U.S., by defining every bit of it as “domestic sex trafficking,” even when it’s between consenting adults. End Demand is sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX (who recently equated gay marriage with humans copulating with box turtles). The act has bipartisan support but has not yet been passed. End Demand’s wording about minors, however, was imported into the latest TVPA.
The government has not yet turned consensual adult prostitution into a federal crime. But last summer, the feds and other organizations, many of who have supported the End Demand Act and the new TVPA, started working the zeitgeist by pitching to the media about American kiddie slaves on Main Street. Primetime responded. Defending last week’s story, ABC spokeswoman Paige Capossela said that “Our producers found two cases that illustrate what the FBI, other law enforcement and child protection agencies described to us as trafficking.” That’s a nice excuse for some high yellow journalism. And, no doubt, for some high Nielsen ratings as well.
Real Men Get Their Facts Straight
Ashton and Demi and Sex Trafficking
By Martin Cizmar, Ellis Conklin, Kristen Hinman
published: June 29, 2011
“It’s between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today,” Ashton Kutcher told CNN’s Piers Morgan on April 18. That, says Kutcher, is how many kids are lost to prostitution in America every single year. “If you don’t do something to stop that, that’s when there is something wrong with you, in my opinion.”
“We want to make a difference with this,” chimed in Kutcher’s wife, Demi Moore. “We don’t want to just come and talk about it. We want to actually see a change, and that’s not going to come by us just, you know, jumping in and doing a little bit and coming and talking.”
In order to “make a difference,” Kutcher and Moore recently launched a series of public service announcements under the banner “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.” In the spots, Kutcher plays a scruffy doofus who’d rather toss out his smelly socks and put on a pair fresh from the package than do a load of laundry. “Real men do their own laundry,” an off-camera voice booms. “Real men don’t buy girls.”
The message is somewhat bewildering, given the lack of context, but there are more like it, all part of a campaign featuring celebrities Justin Timberlake, Sean Penn, and Jason Mraz doing cartoonishly manly things, such as trying to shave with a chainsaw and find a car while blindfolded in a parking lot.
Along with his wife, Kutcher, the titular dude of Dude, Where’s My Car?, has become the public face of an effort to stop underage trafficking since leaving That ’70s Show and Punk’d.
The PSAs have made some observers scratch their heads and others guffaw. Ostensibly about an intense issue—childhood sex slavery—the videos reek of frat-boy humor.
“Is it just me or is there, like, no connection whatsoever between Sean Penn making a grilled cheese with an iron (manly!) and the horrific situation of someone paying for an enslaved 7-year-old to give them a blowjob?” wrote a blogger on TheStir.com.
A blogger for Big Hollywood suggested viewers “sit back and take in a full year’s supply of empty-headed, self-important Hollywood narcissism.”
But the point isn’t that the PSAs are fatuous and silly.
The real issue is that no one has called out Kutcher and Moore for their underlying thesis.
There are not 100,000 to 300,000 children in America turning to prostitution every year. The statistic was hatched without regard to science. It is a bogeyman.
But well-intentioned Hollywood celebrities aren’t the only ones pushing this particular hot button.
The underage-prostitution panic has been fueled by a scientific study that was anything but scientific.
The thinly veiled fraud behind the shocking “100,000 to 300,000 child prostitutes” estimate has never been questioned.
The figure has echoed across America, from the halls of Congress to your morning newspaper, from blogs both liberal and conservative. Google it and you’ll get 80 pages of results.
Last month, the New York Times breathlessly confided, “An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American-born children are sold for sex each year.”
The Gray Lady was not breaking new ground.
• USA Today: “Each year, 100,000 to 300,000 American kids, some as young as 12…”
• CNN: “There’s between 100,000 to 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States…”
• Media Bistro: “There are an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 victims of child prostitution…”
• Salon: “Roughly 100,000 to 300,000 American children are prostituted each year…”
• Family Court Chronicles: “Nationwide, 100,000 to 300,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation…”
• Wikipedia: “Anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation…”
• U.N. goodwill ambassador Julia Ormond: “100,000 to 300,000 potentially trafficked…”
• Press TV: “Child trafficking rampant in the U.S. An FBI bulletin shows that 100,000 to 300,000 American children…”
• Orphan Justice Center: “An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children in forced prostitution in the U.S….”
• C-SPAN: “Children in our country enslaved sexually…from 100,000 to 300,000…”
But a detailed review of police files across the nation tells another story.
Village Voice Media spent two months researching law enforcement data.
We examined arrests for juvenile prostitution in the nation’s 37 largest cities during a 10-year period.
To the extent that underage prostitution exists, it primarily exists in those large cities.
Law enforcement records show that there were only 8,263 arrests across America for child prostitution during the most recent decade.
That’s 827 arrests per year.
Some cities, such as Salt Lake City and Orlando, go an entire year without busting a child prostitute. Others, such as Las Vegas, arrest or recover 100 or so per year.
Compare 827 annually with the 100,000 to 300,000 per year touted in the propaganda.
The nation’s 37 largest cities do not give you every single underage arrest for hooking. Juveniles can go astray in rural Kansas.
But common sense prevails in the police data. As you move away from such major urban areas as Los Angeles, underage prostitution plunges.
When the local police data was shared with a leading figure in the struggle against underage prostitution, the research struck her as ringing true.
“The Seattle Police Department totally have a handle on the situation and understand the problem,” says Melinda Giovengo, executive director of YouthCare, which runs a live-in shelter for underage prostitutes in Seattle. “That seems to be a very accurate count and is reflective of what the data shows.”
It is true that police departments do not arrest every juvenile engaged in sex work. But, surely, they don’t ignore the problem.
So, if there are slightly more than 800 underage arrests a year, where did an estimate as horrible as several hundred thousand come from?
There are, quite simply, no precise numbers on child prostitution.
The “100,000 to 300,000” figure that people like Kutcher and Moore trumpet—the same number that’s found its way into dozens of reputable newspapers—came from two University of Pennsylvania professors, Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner.
But what no newspaper has bothered to explain—and what Moore and Kutcher certainly don’t mention—is that the figure actually represents the number of children Estes and Weiner considered “at risk” for sexual exploitation, not the number of children actually involved.
Furthermore, the authors of The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, released in 2001, admitted that their statistics are not authoritative.
“The numbers presented in these exhibits do not, therefore, reflect the actual number of cases in the United States but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of children ‘at risk’ of commercial sexual exploitation,” they wrote, underlining their words for emphasis.
Who, then, is at risk?
Not surprisingly, the professors find that any “outsider” is at risk.
All runaways are listed as being at risk.
Yet the federal government’s own research acknowledges that “most runaway/thrown-away youth were gone less than one week (77 percent)”—hardly enough time to take up prostitution—”and only 7 percent were away more than one month,” according to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children 2002, commissioned by the Department of Justice.
According to Estes and Weiner, transgender kids and female gang members are also at risk.
So are kids who live near the Mexican or Canadian borders and have their own transportation. In the eyes of the professors, border residents are part of those 100,000 to 300,000 children at risk of becoming whores.
Interviewed for this story, Estes offers an explanation about the risk of living on the border that hardly wins points.
“All you have to do is go to San Diego and look at who fills the San Diego trolley going to Tijuana on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and it’s very, very obvious that the kids are on the way to Tijuana to make money, and they come back Sunday totally stocked,” he says. “They go there for cheap drugs, cheap money, cheap sex—[Tijuana’s] full of everything. And that’s using public transit, right to the border station.”
Rather than taking a trolley to engage in prostitution in a third-world city like Tijuana, isn’t it possible that kids from San Diego might simply want a cold Corona south of the border?
Such broad brushstrokes by professors have not endeared the study to such serious social scientists as David Finkelhor, professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire and director of Crimes Against Children Research Center. Finkelhor’s work is cited in the University of Pennsylvania study, and he helped review the report—not that he could’ve changed the direction of it.
“As far as I’m concerned, [the University of Pennsylvania study] has no scientific credibility to it,” he says. “That figure was in a report that was never really subjected to any kind of peer review. It wasn’t published in any scientific journal.”
Rigorous peer review, as is required for most scientific publishing, could have really helped the study, he says.
“Initially, [Estes and Weiner] claimed that [100,000 to 300,000] was the number of children [engaged in prostitution]. It took quite a bit of pressure to get them to add the qualifier [at risk],” he says.
Professor Steve Doig, Knight Chair of Journalism at Arizona State University, said the “study cannot be relied upon as authoritative.”
As for the supposed number of children being exploited as prostitutes, Doig says, “I do not see the evidence necessary to confirm that there are hundreds of thousands of them.”
Doig, who specializes in the analysis of quantitative methodology, was contracted by Village Voice Media to examine the science behind the Estes and Weiner study.
“Many of the numbers and assumptions in these charts are based on earlier, smaller-scale studies done by other researchers, studies which have their own methodological limitations. I won’t call it ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ But combining various approximations and guesstimates done under a variety of conditions doesn’t magically produce a solid number. The resulting number is no better than the fuzziest part of the equation.”
When asked directly, Estes gives an estimate that is much less dramatic.
How many kids are involved in sex slavery—forcibly taken into the trade and abused?
“That number would be small,” Estes acknowledges. “Kids who are kidnapped and sold into slavery—that number would be very small.”
When we talk about very small, what sort of number are we talking about?
“We’re talking about a few hundred people.”
Finkelhor says there’s no way to know for sure how many child prostitutes there are in America.
“All we have in the way of really hard evidence is what the police arrests are,” he says. “They’re way low. They’re certainly not an underestimate, but it seems to me that it’s incumbent on anyone who is writing about the problem to at least include that number on one end of the continuum, because that’s probably the most justifiable number you have.”
Ashton Kutcher owns one of the most-followed Twitter accounts in the world. His @aplusk handle famously beat CNN to a race to 1 million and never slowed down—he’s now at 7 million followers and counting. He is a technically literate, if ill-informed, advocate.
Kutcher made his bones playing the prankster, dummy, and stoner.
Yet he’s become so powerful that Piers Morgan, the British TV personality who replaced Larry King as CNN’s go-to interviewer, had Kutcher and Moore on his show in April to spread the gospel.
Morgan quickly acknowledged Kutcher and Moore’s Twitter throw weight, begging the couple to direct a few new followers toward him.
“It would be completely remiss of me to have two people who are the king and queen of Twitter to not selfishly use you for my own devices and get you to get my follower count up,” he says. “So, just a little favor for little old Piersy, with his half a million followers… If you could just look at the camera and tell your followers—your 10 million followers—to follow good old @PiersMorgan.”
The story of how Kutcher and Moore decided to use their star power to wage a battle against child prostitution helps illuminate how a social problem, of whatever magnitude, becomes a cause and how phony numbers take on the authority of folk wisdom.
The actors were watching TV in bed when they saw a horrifying documentary about sex slavery in some faraway foreign land and decided they needed to get involved.
But how to help?
Sex trafficking is a grim problem, and not one actors know a lot about—even if Moore played a stripper in a movie and has alluded to how she was “manipulated and taken advantage of” by a 28-year-old boyfriend when she was 15 years old.
So Kutcher and Moore did what any savvy Hollywood couple would do, which is call Trevor Neilson. Neilson isn’t a household name, but he’s quickly establishing his Santa Monica, California-based Global Philanthropy Group as the premier charity consultant to the entertainment industry’s biggest and brightest. Neilson is a former Hillary Clinton staffer and Gates Foundation director who has been the subject of glowing profiles in Details and the New York Times.
“The king of Hollywood philanthropy” and his wife and business partner, Maggie, can charge up to $200,000 a year for their services because they’re the best in a new and growing industry. The concept of a celebrity charity consultant is relatively new, but it makes sense, as Hollywood grows ever more concerned about image management. Neilson is the guy Madonna called to help her save face in the debacle surrounding her failed Malawi schools.
The Neilsons cooked up a 140-point “secret sauce” plan of attack for the Demi and Ashton Foundation (known as DNA). The Neilsons’ political connections got the Department of Homeland Security to cast Kutcher and Moore in training videos that teach cops how to spot trafficked sex slaves.
“We went through a significant research process through them,” Maggie Neilson says. “For Demi and Ashton, their strategy is actually pretty complex—there’s a lot of different parts to it—but one thing that became clear through it…was that there was no one working on the demand side, and that’s the side the data was showing more affectable.”
Enter the “Real Men” campaign. The humorous commercials are designed to dampen the supposed appetite for underage prostitutes by suggesting that real men do funny, manly things such as look for their cars in parking lots while blindfolded or play basketball on a broken ankle. “Fake” men presumably hire tot-stitutes.
But if you are a highly paid consultant, mustn’t you pair the juvenile humor with accurate numbers to maintain credibility instead of letting your clients regurgitate the outrageous “100,000 to 300,000” statistic?
Not an easy task, says Maggie Neilson, whose previous work was in the hot, hot, hot area of microfinance. Getting data about sex slavery was not easy, she says: “Versus most social issues I’ve worked on, there is actually a dearth of data—so it was absolutely cobbled together.”
Accuracy is not a major concern for Maggie Neilson.
“All of the core data we use gets attacked all the time,” she says. “The challenge is, it’s that or nothing, right? And I don’t frankly care if the number is 200,000, 500,000, or a million, or 100,000—it needs to be addressed. While I absolutely agree there’s a need for better data, the people who want to spend all day bitching about the methodologies used I’m not very interested in.”
Except the numbers Neilson fed her clients aren’t undercounts masking even more shocking damage. The very police agencies Kutcher and Moore are coaching in videotapes document that the actual number of underage victims detained by law enforcement is slightly more than 800 a year, not 200,000, 500,000, or a million.
Perhaps the numbers will grow after enough cops watch her clients’ video.
In the underage prostitute/trafficking industry, the Neilsons typify those who are not concerned with facts: They know what’s best (or at least what sells).
Former congresswoman Linda Smith—a witness at the Craigslist hearing—not only knows what’s best, but has it on the highest authority.
The devout Smith, who served two terms in Congress representing Washington State, is another major player in the sex-trafficking panic, having testified before Congress that the estimate of 100,000 underage sex slaves in the country is “conservative.”
Smith is the founder of a group called Shared Hope International, an organization that DNA promotes. She, in turn, promotes Kutcher and Moore.
Smith’s worries, however, are not limited to sex trafficking or underage prostitutes.
Instead, she focuses on root cause.
Her organization is committed to “counsel men on the dangers of engaging in the commercial sex markets, especially pornography.”
How far would Smith take such a moral crusade?
As a member of the State Senate in Washington, she sponsored a bill that would have made it illegal for underage kids to have sex with each other. The law was also intended to stop oral sex and “heavy petting,” and it would have included jail time and a fine for the guilty.
“We need to figure out if we can find a way to make it not OK to buy pornography, not OK to fuel that sex industry, because it’s fueling the victimization of the child used in pornography, of the woman in despair used in pornography,” Smith says in one of her own YouTube videos.
“Most of my girls that we rescued, all over, have talked about the pictures taken of them during the time. What do you think those pictures are being used for…the ordinary men who are sitting with you on the bus or the plane? It has to be—the demographics are so many. But then I realized the Devil is having our lunch, because they’re daddies, they’re granddaddies, they’re sons… God has given us great gifts, and the Devil is stealing that from us through this.”
Shared Hope has depended upon contributions from faith-based foundations and the federal government. In 2003 and 2004, Smith took in nearly $1 million in government grants.
In 2006, her organization received $987,228 to facilitate services for “domestic child-sex-trafficking victims.” In fiscal 2005, her group also got $1.9 million from the State Department for an international public-awareness campaign.
In 2000, she helped author the national Trafficking Victims Protection Act. In 2007, Smith authored, with State Department funding, “DEMAND,” an examination of commercial sexual exploitation in four countries, including the United States. In 2009, the Justice Department commissioned her to write “The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: America’s Prostituted Children.”
Linda Smith is a cog in a very expensive machine.
To put it in context, consider that from 2001 (the year of the University of Pennsylvania study) through 2004, Congress appropriated $280 million to fight sex trafficking overseas.
In 2005 and 2006, the federal government spent $50 million primarily to fund law enforcement task forces involving U.S. Attorneys, local police, FBI and Department of Homeland Security agents, and various nonprofits. The task forces were created to put an end to sex and labor trafficking in America. Today, there are more than 40 such task forces, from Boston to Anchorage, each typically funded with $450,000 for three-year terms.
In 2010, Congress disbursed over $21 million to nearly 100 groups—including municipalities and local law enforcement agencies—that are fighting sex and labor trafficking.
You never hear in the media from the majority of these folks. But others have clear religious or prohibitionist agendas: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ($4 million), World Relief Corporation of National Association of Evangelicals ($60,000), Polaris Project ($800,000), the Church United for Community Development ($150,000), and Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking ($250,000).
The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces, also composed of local and federal law enforcement agencies, have investigated child pornography and prostitution cases since 1998. Generally, the units receive tens of millions of dollars annually. As part of the government stimulus package, Uncle Sam handed out $75 million to ICAC groups in 2009.
In the past eight years, Congress has spent $200 million on child pornography in America and another $180 million on all domestic trafficking involving sex or labor.
Ask the feds how many child-sex-trafficking cases they have prosecuted in all this time, however, and you’re hard-pressed to evaluate how far your tax dollars are going. The Department of Justice says it has no way of tabulating how many prosecutions end up in front of a judge.
As astonishing as that seems, the details are worse.
The latest report covers January 2008 to June 2010. Of the 45 Justice Department task forces in operation at that time, 42 reported at least one incident. But an “incident” is merely an allegation or suspicion that was investigated for at least one hour. And nothing more.
Of the 45 teams of DOJ lawyers, Homeland Security and FBI agents, and local law enforcement, only 18 of the task forces kept accurate paperwork.
Those 18 teams confirmed they’d identified 248 children involved in sex trafficking over the 30-month period.
In other words, with the full authority of federal law enforcement, 18 joint task forces were lucky to average eight kids a month—or 100 per year.
Give the 27 non-reporting task forces the benefit of the doubt. If they’d operated at the capacity of the functional 18, they would have added another 150 kids per year.
If all 45 task forces had had the same degree of success, they would, possibly, have located a total of 250 kids per year who were trafficked.
Not 100,000, and certainly not 300,000.
After millions upon millions of dollars, after years of raising awareness, after incalculable effort by religious, civic, and municipal workers, after focused attention from local and federal law enforcement: Why so few cases prosecuted and why so few children rescued?
Jay Albanese, a criminologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, spent four years heading up the Department of Justice’s research division.
“There’s tons of estimates on human trafficking,” says Albanese. “They’re all crap… It’s all guesswork, speculation… The numbers are inherently unbelievable.
“[The latest report] shows 2,500 investigations were begun by the 42 human-trafficking task forces. But only 30 or 40 percent of those have been confirmed as trafficking cases, and only 300 or so are actual arrests. The point is, given the 42 investigative trafficking task forces—and these people have undergone training—the actual number of cases always seems to be just a fraction of these very high estimates.”
He adds, “I wonder if these people putting up these very high estimates are helping or hurting the cause.”
But those grandiose estimates are helping the advocates, like Linda Smith, who have their hands out for government funding or charitable contributions.
“Let’s face it: A study or a story saying several thousand young teens are being exploited in the sex trade has a lot less impact than one suggesting that several hundred thousand are ‘at risk,’ ” says ASU’s Doig. “Researchers, journalists, law enforcement, and politicians alike have incentives to focus on the much bigger number.”
Despite the tidal wave of cash going to nonprofits purporting to raise awareness and task forces hoping to prosecute (with little track record of success), someone’s been left out: the victims.
Whether the number is the 800-plus per year (as indicated by police records) or a higher, not yet documented, number, there is no question that teenagers who exchange cash for sex present a special challenge.
Seattle is one of the few places in the nation with a shelter devoted to underage prostitutes. Despite the obvious need, the city manages the program without federal funding.
“These children, as victims, need more trauma-recovery services,” says Melinda Giovengo, who, as executive director of Seattle’s YouthCare, administers the Bridge Program, a residential center for teen prostitutes.
“There is evidence that a dedicated residential recovery program, with wraparound mental health, chemical dependence, and educational and vocational services, provided by well-trained specialists, both on-site and in the community, can help young victims of commercial sexual exploitation in breaking free from the track.”
Although Congress has spent hundreds of millions in tax-generated money to fight human trafficking, it has yet to spend a penny to shelter and counsel those boys and girls in America who are, in fact, underage prostitutes.
In March of this year, 10 years after Estes and Weiner claimed that 100,000 to 300,000 children were at risk of becoming sex workers, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (a Democrat from Oregon) and John Cornyn (a Republican from Texas) introduced legislation to fund six shelters with $15 million in grants. The shelters would provide beds, counseling, clothing, case work, and legal services. If enacted, this legislation would be the first of its kind.
The bill has yet to clear the Senate or the House.
The lack of shelter and counseling for underage prostitutes—while prohibitionists take in millions in government funding—is only one indication of the worldwide campaign of hostility directed at working women.
In Canada, prostitution is legal.
But under Canadian law, working women are not allowed the safety of a brothel or a bodyguard or a check that would give their whereabouts (for matters of safety).
Prostitutes successfully sued last year seeking to overturn the portion of the law they believed threatened their safety.
Earlier this month, the government’s appeal of that ruling was heard.
The issue wasn’t the legality of prostitution, a given, but whether prostitutes could protect themselves by getting off the street or by hiring security.
As reported June 16 in the National Post: “Prostitution is immoral, argued Ranjan Agarwal, a lawyer representing the Christian Legal Fellowship, the Catholic Rights League, and REAL Women of Canada. But, asked Justice David Doherty, What if sex workers die as a result? Wouldn’t that be harm out of proportion from the intended good?
“No,” Agarwal said. Such an outcome is a ‘side effect,’ and it was better for Parliament to ‘send a signal’ to anyone thinking of entering the sex trade that there was great risk involved.”
Having solved the problem of America’s underage sex trafficking, Demi Moore moved on to Nepal, where she addressed that nation’s problem with juvenile prostitutes. A CNN special on Moore’s appearance in Nepal aired Sunday, June 26.
Statement About Sourcing
Village Voice Media relied predominantly on individual police departments within 37 of the largest cities in the U.S. to furnish us with juvenile prostitution arrest data over the course of the last 10 years.
When that wasn’t possible, either because of incomplete records or because a particular department didn’t track the data for that long a period, we used FBI arrest statistics, in addition to various state and county law enforcement agencies.
The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.
While this may happen in very rare limited situations, the media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These “non profit” group’s employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations. If you look into how many real kidnapped forced against their will sex slaves there are, and not just take the anti-prostitution groups word for it. You will be very surprised.
Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the “millions” of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will.
These groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies.
This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.
If you agree that you would like to see news organizations do a full truthful report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves without taking the Anti-Prostitution groups word for it;
Here are some links to help you out:
To email News media publications here is some email addresses to get you all started. (Media companies link below)
To contact USA senators and congressmen to alert them on the lies being told to them about Sex Trafficking and Slavery:
USA government officals link:
www.iswface.org – Sex Workers rights
(Don’t forget to tell your local government officals as well)
Feel free to use any information in this website to tell people about “The Facts of Sex Trafficking and Sex Slavery”
News night BBC TV show video:
The following links will give you more information about sex trafficking especially the Washington post article and the Guardian and BBC links.
Washington post article:
News night BBC video:
Nick Davies – About Truth in the Media:
Sex trafficking in sports:
Dallas TV News show about super bowl sex slave myth:
Human traffic website:
Sex Trafficking in Asia:
Laura Maria Agustin, book “Sex at the margins”
Detailed Report and research about sex Trafficking, Sex Slavery, Prostitution:
by Ronald Weitzer
Nathalie Rothschild spiked magazine:
Washington post article:
Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence
“U.S.Estimates Thousands of Victims, But Efforts to Find Them Fall Short”
By Jerry Markon
WashingtonPost Staff Writer
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Minnesota City Pages News in the March 23, 2011 issue have a story about the controversial statistics used to calculate sex trafficking and Sex Slavery victims:
By Nick Pinto – Minnesota city pages
The Village Voice newspaper in New York has a section on the Sex trafficking controversy:
In October 20, 2009
Nick Davis of the London Guardian newspaper writes about a large British Sex Trafficking, Sex Slavery investigation that failed to find a single victim.