For the victims of human trafficking who will spend this Christmas in the nightmare of sexual slavery, time is running out. Please, help them.
End Human Trafficking of Children
For too many children, their road into modern slavery began on the Internet.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, as many as 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year. The Internet is the vehicle for 76 percent of the transactions for sex with underage girls.
The average victim is between 11 and 14 years old. These victims come from all walks of life -- from every race, social, and economic background.
The problem is made worse by America's fluid borders. According to the United Nations (UNICEF), 2 million children are trafficked in the global prostitution trade. The U.S. State Department reports that from 600,000 to 800,000 people (mainly women and children) are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for slave labor and prostitution.
Human Trafficking has surpassed the sale of illegal arms and is set to surpass the illegal sale of drugs. The FBI reports that human trafficking is on the rise in all 50 states and represents a multi-billion dollar criminal industry.
New Jersey is a "hub for human trafficking," according to assistant New Jersey Attorney General Tracy M. Thompson. "We are easily accessible via Interstate 95, and the proximity to major tourist destinations like Atlantic City and New York City makes us more vulnerable and susceptible," she said. "Our diversity is what makes it so great to be part of this state, but traffickers prey on (people of) their own ethnicity. It makes is so hard for law enforcement to penetrate these activities."
In September, 14 people were arrested in a child-porn and human trafficking operation in Monmouth County. In October, the FBI announced that it had uncovered and arrested 42 child sex traffickers in New Jersey. The Star-Ledger reported that the 42 were arrested on charges that included sex trafficking, child exploitation and prostitution. A total of 84 children were rescued during the operation. At the beginning of December, 79 suspects were arrested on a host of charges that included sexual assault, using the Internet to send inappropriate images to children, and child pornography.
So why are the manufacturers of products and services that provide access to the Internet refusing to take responsibility for what they sell?
Every other producer of a product or service is held to account for what they sell. You can't sell an automobile to an 11-year-old, hand her the keys, and let her drive off the lot.
And with schools requiring young students to have access to the Internet, it is no longer about the parent. The government-run education system supplants the parents and requires the child to be connected to the Internet. For many children, it's like requiring them to walk to and from school on a dangerous, traffic-filled highway.
There is legislation that changes this and makes the corporations responsible for the products and services they sell. It is a bill championed by Republican State Senator Steve Oroho, and it has attracted substantial bi-partisan support.
The bill is called the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act (S-2928). And it offers a constitutional way to prevent predators from using the Internet to sexually exploit children. It requires that those who sell products and services that allow children to access the Internet make their products safe from human traffickers engaged in the modern slave trade. It is supported by Thorn, an anti-human trafficking group that uses technology to defeat child sex traffickers.
Despite having enough legislators committed to passing this legislation -- either as co-sponsors or supporters, the Democrats who run both chambers of the Legislature have held up passage. They are listening to objections from the porn industry, who have adopted a "no questions asked" attitude on where their profits come from. Porn is legal and the corporations who profit from it and their allies are the enablers of human trafficking.
The enablers of human trafficking know that S-2928 has enough votes to pass the Legislature and be signed into law by Republican Governor Chris Christie. They want to run out the clock until Democrat Phil Murphy takes office on January 16, 2018. Then the legislative books will be closed and the process will need to start all over again, under a Governor who has not expressed support for S-2928.
The holidays are here. Christmas is coming. Right now, in cities and towns across America, anti-human trafficking activists are working to rescue children who were lured into a life of slavery through the Internet. They are hoping to reunite them with their families in time for Christmas.
Think of how you would feel at this time of year if your child was in the hands of human traffickers. Wouldn't you want her back? Wouldn't you want to hold her? Wouldn't you want to break the nexus that makes such slavery possible?
We have a month to break the power of human trafficking and their enablers.
The human traffickers are counting on them to keep things the way they are. Can we count on you?
Your contribution to the Center for Garden State Families will be used to make sure that every legislator who sides with human trafficking and puts profits ahead of enslaved children is held to account. They will be forced to face the choice of standing with the slavers or with the victims of slavery. We trust that when faced with such a choice, they will do the right thing.
Can you please make your urgent contribution today?