By the Committee to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings
Everyone involved in anti-human trafficking efforts want education, awareness and vigilance to be pillars in the fight against exploitation that takes place daily in our county, state and country. There is no doubt that anyone involved in these efforts to combat human trafficking as a profession wants the general public to be aware of what is going on and to be informed about the realities of human trafficking and exploitation. Human being. It is of the utmost importance that appropriate education and information be provided to the public in order to avoid as far as possible the spread of false rhetoric.
One of the biggest hurdles that all too often show the head in human trafficking investigations, awareness campaigns and awareness campaigns is the problem of misinformation, which is often passed on as the truth and is misinformed. spreads very quickly and easily. It seems that disinformation and conspiracy theory is spreading like wildfire, while the truth on the matter and accurate, up-to-date and actionable information is often much more difficult to effectively disseminate to the masses. It is difficult and almost impossible to undo the damage caused by the spread of false information that too often goes viral.
Some of the more inaccurate claims about what human trafficking is include stories of how victims of human trafficking are almost always kidnapped. That there are trafficking networks operating in plain sight of department stores, as well as rumors that large retailers are complicit in the exploitation of our citizens.
With growing interest in the human trafficking and exploitation subculture, there has been a wave of disinformation, lies, hoaxes and outright lies. It is our job to right this ship and stop the spread of false information and focus on perpetuating accurate information and truth in the fight against humans.
False news, rumors and hoaxes, and the mere dissemination of unverified information are very damaging to what is an otherwise just cause, and ultimately harm victims of human trafficking. Additionally, when inaccurate information is released, it distracts attention from the truth and can often hinder or thwart law enforcement efforts and distract from legitimate crimes and valid reports of abuse and victimization. .
Some common hoaxes and conspiracies that have recently surfaced that have distracted the cause, as well as a distraction for law enforcement authorities, have been the allegations of kidnapping and trafficking networks operating in major shopping centers as well as the false claim that retailer Mayfair was
accomplice in the sale of children.
A viral social media sharing took place, and it was falsely spread that human trafficking networks were operating in malls by placing zip ties on cars or putting doodles in the dust on a car. which, in a way, was acting as a signal for them to act on. Although these allegations turned out to be unfounded, the hoax fueled rumors and created unnecessary fear. In the end, these stories turned out to be patently false.
Another standout example that has been widely publicized is the story of online furniture retailer Mayfair. Rumors and speculation have spread across the internet about big-ticket items being advertised like high-end furniture or custom pillows, for example. Conspiracy theorists claimed that these articles were actually children who were offered as part of an online human trafficking ring. This false claim turned out to be a global hoax, but the damage was done, and the cause of the fight against human trafficking was affected by these baseless theories.
Conspiracy theory isn’t productive, and when it floods the internet like it did with the Mall and the Wayfair hoaxes, the real message and importance of what human trafficking really is, is watered down and diminished in importance and acts as an unnecessary distraction for all of us who are invested in the fight against human trafficking.
As mentioned in a previous column, human trafficking is not what is portrayed in the “Taken” film series, starring Liam Neeson, where children are kidnapped and moved to a foreign country forced to serve as military personnel. ‘sex slaves and human products. Likewise, the face of sexual exploitation is not the sparkle and glamor of what is portrayed by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in the movie “Pretty Woman”.
Human trafficking is not children detained in sea trains, nor children abducted from the streets forced to live a life of sexual servitude under the thumb of a random stranger who becomes their trafficker. It is important to understand that, generally, human traffickers and pimps tend to groom and entice their victims over a period of time, and often this grooming is done on the Internet. Stealing from a victim or kidnapping someone for the purpose of trafficking is too risky a proposition, and in most cases, victims are recruited, manipulated and ultimately made 100% dependent on their trafficker after a period of grooming. Statistics indicate that kidnappings for the purpose of forcing someone to engage in human trafficking are not very common. It is widely accepted that a large majority of victims of human trafficking are runaways. Some statistics indicate that up to 95% of victims come from this type of situation.
The easiest way to ensure that accurate information is consumed and shared is to properly verify the source. The most legitimate sources of information are those which have been involved in the fight against trafficking in human beings for some time and are considered at national level as experts in this field. They are generally long-term contributors of information and resources that contribute to the fight against trafficking in human beings.
Common sources of validated and accurate information include Project Polaris, the National Anti-Trafficking Hotline, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, DeliverFund, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children ( NCMEC). It is essential that those of us interested in combating human trafficking find reliable sources, like these, that provide accurate, up-to-date and relevant information. It is also essential not to share, distribute or transmit inaccurate and unverified information which is mainly based on rumors, speculations or conspiracy theories.
The reality of what human trafficking looks like on the central coast is not the crime syndicates or organized crime networks operating in our supermarkets or malls, and it is not the furniture retailers in line that sell children using some sort of secret code. These are not children kept in shipping containers or children snatched from under our noses on our main streets.
The reality is the same here locally as it is across the country – local Americans buy from Americans for their sexual gratification, and the market here is booming. Our neighbors, friends, and perhaps family members pay for sex with exploited humans. They buy sexual services from trafficked adults and trafficked children. As evidenced by a recent case where a 15 year old fugitive was trafficked on the central coast, it should be clear that there is a clear and current demand for sex with sexually trafficked children at the local level; otherwise, this 15 year old wouldn’t have been trafficked here in the first place. This is and should be the shocking reality of what sex trafficking looks like here both locally and across the country. This is not a rumor, innuendo, or conspiracy theory. It is a fact that exploited children, as well as adults, are regularly sold to our neighbors, colleagues and friends.
We hope that instead of relying on any speculations, rumors or lies that spread so easily and cause fear and the spread of false stories, our community will seek out legitimate information, statistics and educational material. If possible, get involved and volunteer with local outreach services as appropriate. It is further hoped that when and if information is shared, published or disseminated, only accurate and verified information will be transmitted.
In this way, we can all do our part to fight the good fight and crush the evil of human trafficking and exploitation.