Tag Archives: Craigslist

2009: Slavery in the U.S. Grows

Photo Source: Flickr

Photo Source: Flickr

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how Craigslist has become one of the main sources of human and sex trafficking and how Chicago Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart sued Craigslist. Part of the reason for traffickers to use Craigslist is because of its communicative ease and the site’s lack of oversight. Unfortunately, human trafficking is still on the rise in the U.S., to the point where Florida has become one of the nation’s largest states for receiving human slaves(Source 1). According to the United Nations Drugs and Crimes (UNDC), human trafficking is also one of the fastest growing criminal activity in the world, with 80% being  sexual slavery in nature .

Fortunately, there are people like Sally Senitz and her husband Lowell, who are working with the FBI to spread awareness of human slavery in the U.S. And they aren’t alone. Highman High School students joined forces with the Not for Sale Campaign to combat human trafficking by raising money and awareness in the form of a fair (Source 2). As cliche as it may sound, it truly reminds me of the phrase, “Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.” You too can join the fight by calling (239)340-2980.

Just researching about human trafficking certainly breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because today, in 2009, slavery still exists and is growing. People are taking advantage of other people. But you and I are perhaps lucky, lucky to be alive and to live a life of privilege, even if we may feel like we aren’t privileged. We have a voice. We need to be a voice for those that cannot speak because of their oppression!

This week, Metro Police detectives and FBI agents got a break! They arrested 45-year-old Teresa Ann West, 20-year-old Casey West (her son) and 22-year-old Diana West (her daugher). The mother-children team ran a prostitution ring that used underage teens (16-year-olds) as prostitutes (Source 3). What kind of mother would allow this, not to mention participating and facilitating this?

As of today, the End Child Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT International) working with a pro-enviromental company Body Shop, have release a report to bring awareness against underage sex trafficking. They have worked with international police organizations to outline three main goals this year (Source 4):

  • Community-based prevention programmes to stop child trafficking reaching at-risk populations.
  • International legal standards for protecting children from trafficking incorporated into the national legal framework.
  • Specialised government services for child victims of trafficking integrated into national policies.

You may ask yourself what you could do. You could write to your congress person, get involved and get other people involved in organizations like ECPAT, etc.

Currently, my friends and I are part of a group called Freedom and Fashion. We will be holding a fashion show to bring awareness of the slavery that still exists not only in America, but around the world. We will also be featuring designers who donate to social justice causes or part of a fair rade market. It will be held at UCLA on November 19th, 2009.

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Human Trafficking With Craigslist: Children For Sale

I’ve only used Craigslist twice in my life. The first time, I placed an ad for my professor to attract people to be test subjects for our psychological study on Tai Chi. The second time was selling my iPod nano. You see, Craigslist can be used for good things. However, just as much as anything can be used for good, it also has the potential to be used for evil. Let’s just say that the second time around, I almost fell for a scam–you know, one of those, “Please send it to my son in Africa.” Luckily, I was able to sell my nano to someone legit, and did my money transfer and product transfer face-to-face. And while I almost fell for an electronic scam, some where in the nation, people were trading other people. Though we may live in the 21st century, slavery, sadly exists and has taken on more modern forms.

Photo Credit: Justin Sutcliffe

Photo Credit: Justin Sutcliffe

Craigslist has become the new site for human trafficking, whether it be sex trafficking or child trafficking. And for all those pedophiles out there, Craigslist has become a tool for them to pay for sex with children. I’m not sure which is the more tragic part–that there’s pedophiles out there using Craigslist or that there’s people in the world willing to sell and make a profit from forcing children to have sex. Human traffickers use the “Erotic” section. According to Katherine Chon, Executive Director of the Polaris Project, a recent case featured girls who had sex with 10-12 men per day (Read about it here) and the Craigslist section our nation’s capital, shows an average of about 500 sexually-oriented ads a day.

In addition to human trafficking, many prostitutes use Craigslist’s “Erotic” section to sell themselves too. Their argument is that Craigslist allows them to meet clients who aren’t as violent and also eliminates the prostitutes’ use of pimps. Luckily, there are people willing to take a stand. Chicago Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart sued Craigslist, accusing the site for being one of the largest sites for prostitution, claiming also that it is a “powerful marketing tool for pimps and prostitutes and makes it easier for criminals to elude police” (Read more here).

It’s disgusting and horrible what kinds of things it reveals about our identities as human beings. But we aren’t powerless to make a difference. Take a stand, and do something to end human trafficking. Events like this have inspired me to join an organization like the Polaris Project and the Not For Sale Campaign to combat against human trafficking and slavery.

I’m part of a group called Freedom and Fashion. Our organization has three goals in mind:

  1. Advocacy: Bringing public awareness of the various injustices in the world today (slavery, trafficking, poverty, exploitation, etc.)
  2. Promotion: Providing a market platform for Non-Profit Organizations / Companies selling merchandise created through ethical and fair trade means.
  3. Love: To show what we believe to be God’s love by reconciling the existing perversion of injustice and oppression in the supply chain through several channels: educating our community, providing alternative purchasing means, and calling individuals to participate in the solution.

Sheriff Tom Dart discusses Craigslist and human trafficking:

Photo Credit: Justin Sutcliffe


Filed under Issues/Causes, Life