The average age that a victim is first trafficked for sex in the United States is just 12-14 years old. Traffickers or pimps are masters in manipulation who gain a girls trust before forcing them into commercial sex acts and then keep them compliant through violence and drugs. With a simple statement as “You have such beautiful eyes,” a trafficker can read just how easy it will be lure a girl by the way she responds. If she returns the compliment with eye contact and a “thanks” she may not be worth the effort as the girl replies with confidence. However, if she replies with a shy “thanks” and does not return with eye contact, she may appear insecure and the trafficker now knows the young girl will be easy to manipulate.
This is in part what we learned October 1st when I and the San Clemente Abolitionists hosted Opal Singleton to speak on behalf of Proposition 35 and why this bill is an important piece of legislation for the state of California. Opal did not hold back the realities for those who are forced to sell their bodies for the financial gail of human traffickers. Abused sexually, physically and mentally, these women and children afraid for their lives and are usually kept in bondage through violence and drugs.
Opal works with the Riverside Human Trafficking Task Force and shared story after story of a young girl lured by a promise of love or by simple compliments and then brutally sexually exploited some up to years before they were rescued. Many who go missing are never found and their fates unknown. Many of these victims were ultimately sold to local and some more infamous gangs who have ties with organized crime networks. This should not come to a surprise to when we learn that human trafficking is said to be one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world. What is often a surprise to some people is that it is happening right here on the streets in California. Three cities in California – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, are recognized by the FBI as high intensity child sex trafficking areas. And if you live in a city that seems to have a growing “massage” parlor market, it is highly likely that you have a growing human trafficking problem. A recent national study by a victim’s rights group gave California an “F” grade for its weak laws dealing with child sex trafficking.
Proposition 35 is an initiative that will fight back against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children by:
1) Increasing Prison terms for human traffickers.
2) Require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders.
3) Require all registered sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts.
4) Require criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for victim’s services.
Download the bi-partisian supported proposition and see all who endorse Proposition 35 at www.caseact.org. Vote YES on Prop 35.