Humanitarian Alliance Interview: the True Story of Three Boys who were Sold into Sex Slavery.

by Lisa Bates

Warning: this article contains details that may be very upsetting to some people. Possible Triggers.

I used to have trouble, wrapping my mind around the idea of parents selling their children to pedophiles. But, as I have learned more about it, I have to admit that it is one of the two main roads into child prostitution.1 The other one is when runaway children are approached and taken in by pimps, usually within 48 hours after leaving home.2

But, that is a story for another time.

This tale begins in Scotland. A set of three little boys, who were triplets, lived with their very poor family. The grandfather was approached by a seemingly nice man who offered a large sum of money to take the boys and raise them. It seemed like a perfect solution for the boys. But  in fact, he ran a “puppy mill” (a place where young boys can be purchased for sex; it is named after the unethical practice of keeping dogs in cages simply to reproduce). At the time of the offer, the money seemed to be the only way that the family could survive; so the grandfather agreed to take it, and turned the boys over to the man who seemed to have come to their rescue. They were only 9 years old.

The boys became his possessions. They were required to do whatever the Alpha (their owner) and his customers desired, and it was mostly sexual. It was frequently necessary for them to perform together, and then with the men who became excited by watching them, but it was not only about the sex. Puppy mill boys are used as assassins, and drug smugglers, as well as for sexual gratification. They are objects, sold for anything the Alpha needs. In general, they are expendable and easily replaced.

However, many pedophiles consider it especially erotic to have experiences with twins or triplets, so these boys were very valuable to the Alpha. They were in demand. The boys were sold, and re-sold, they were shipped from Scotland to Ireland, and then sold again and shipped to England. Later, they were sold to an Organized Crime Syndicate, and imported to the United States. In all, they were shipped to 9 different locations.

During all of this upheaval, one of the triplets had a “problem” with running away. It was simply not tolerated. First, their Alpha drove a bolt between the tendon and the bone in his leg, and chained him to the wall. When that did not cure him, he was beaten to death in front of the other boys, as an example. They were 12 years old when they watched their brother die.

prostituteThe two remaining boys were separated when they came to the USA. One of them was sent to a more “controlled” mill, a place that used a lot of beatings, because he was a “trouble pup.” The other twin was sent to private homes, because he was more docile and easy to control. They still had the desirability of twins; the Alpha only separated them because of the need to maintain absolute control. But, after the last place, which was controlled by the Mob, found out that they were twins, they were reunited to perform a live “erotic cinema” for paying customers, who would then join in. They were 17 years old, and living in a mill with 17 other boys.

Some of the boys had originally been sold to an Alpha, like the twins, but the majority were runaways or throwaways who were brought into the mills within 48 hours of leaving home. One fertile source for the Alphas is gay youth who are thrown out of their homes, just as they are discovering their own sexuality, in very early puberty. If the parents can not accept their children as lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender, they often simply throw the children out of the home so that they do not have to deal with them.1

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the number of homeless and runaway youth ranges from 575,000 to 1.6 million per year. Between 20 percent and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Given that between 3 percent and 5 percent of the U.S. population identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual, it is clear that LGBT youth experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate.2 When children are picked up, after being thrown away by their families, they find themselves in anything from a Mob controlled puppy mill, to a bar that has back rooms for rental of boys.3 They are considered “twinks” until they are about 22 or 23, when they lose the premium value of their stolen youth.

But, the twins were very, very, fortunate. They were only 19 when they came in contact with a loose network of about 45 ex-pups who still have access to the mills; and who work undercover to get some of the boys off the streets and away from the system. The twins were rescued, and taken in by the ex-prostitutes. The boys were then connected with lawyers, investigators, and the legal system. The puppy mill was investigated, and hopefully the Alpha and his cronies were prosecuted.

The ex-pup network does not stop there. They teach the boys skills and get them jobs, or even pay for higher education so they can become independent and healthy adults. The twins met a man who helped with their rescue, and who identifies himself as a “32 year old gender queer.” They came to trust this man, and told him their story. He was the source for this article. They told him many more horrifying details of their time as sex slaves, but there is no reason to go into all of that here.

The main reason why this man came forward with their story is to raise awareness that sexual traffickers do not only prey on young girls. He wanted to point out the statistics on the high numbers of lesbian, gay and transgender youth who are thrown out of their homes and are never missed,until they are picked up by traffickers. He also wanted to draw attention to the fact that the young men working in the sex trade, under the control of Alphas, are truly victims, even though they are being forced to break the law. When they are picked up in police “stings” and given criminal records for prostitution, they are only forced farther from regular society.4 They need a strong, understanding, support system to have a chance at a normal life. The loose organization of ex-pups provides that for them, but it is heartbreaking how many pups they simply can not reach to help.

It has been a year since the twins were rescued, and they are doing very well, One works full-time as a bartender, and is thinking about going to school. The other has sight and hearing issues; but he was given a seeing-eye dog. He is involved in the training for the dog, and has a place to live for the rest of  his life with a dear friend.

Not all stories have a happy ending. “The Department of Justice estimates that more than 250,000 American youth are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation… and youth older than 12 are prime targets for sexual exploitation by organized crime units.” 1The number of children who are simply sold or are kicked out by their parents is unknown. This is an enormous problem in the United States and worldwide. To be able to achieve a normal life, these children, and the sex workers that they become, need to be literally rescued, deprogrammed, and supported, while they recover from this unspeakable abuse. Arresting them for prostitution is completely counter-productive, and public policy needs to reflect that understanding. Finally, resources need to be made available for concerned parties to rescue and rehabilitate these lost boys.

1 “Young people are recruited into prostitution through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers.” http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/march_2011/human_sex_trafficking

2“These children generally come from homes where they have been abused or from families who have abandoned them.”http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/march_2011/human_sex_trafficking

3http://www.bostonglobe.com/2013/03/09/loth/Nd7GP0LOlKU19KCfg8zw0J/story.html

5 “Various organizational types exist in trafficking. Some perpetrators are involved with local street and motorcycle gangs, others are members of larger nationwide gangs and criminal organizations, and some have no affiliation with any one group or organization.”  http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/march_2011/human_sex_trafficking

6[victims of sex trafficking] were arrested and thrown into jail, and that the police treated them like criminals, even when they knew they were minors. Often times, police officers solicited their services, the girls said, or they had relationships with pimps. “They would just send me to jail and keep me here for like a couple of months, then they’d release me thinking everything’s good,” M.S. said. “I was scared to run to the police or cops or something because you know… I don’t think they’d really listen. They try to set up a date with you knowing that you were a minor. They didn’t care.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/domestic-sex-trafficking-increasing-united-states/story?id=10557194

7. http://abcnews.go.com/US/domestic-sex-trafficking-increasing-united-states/story?id=10557194

President Barack Obama weighs in on Human Trafficking

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“When a man, desperate for work, finds himself in a factory, or on a fishing, boat or in a field; working, toiling, for little or no pay, and beaten if he tries to escape — that is slavery. When a woman is locked in a sweatshop, or trapped in a home as a domestic servant, alone and abused and incapable of leaving — that’s slavery.

When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery. When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family — girls my daughters’ age — runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery. It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.”
  -President Barack Obama

 

It is estimated that more than 20 million men, women and children around the world are victims of human trafficking. The United States is a source, transit and destination country for some of these men, women and children — both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals — who are subjected to the injustices of human trafficking, including forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking. Trafficking in persons can occur in both lawful and illicit industries or markets, including in brothels, massage parlors, street prostitution, hotel services, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, health and elder care, and domestic service, among others.

Click HERE to watch President Obama speak out against Human Trafficking

Targeting the ‘Johns’

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By Ayanna Pressley and Lina Nealon

FEBRUARY 11, 2013

Buy a body: get caught, but get off. That’s been the norm, but not anymore. As sports fans were getting ready for the big game, law enforcement across the nation was tackling the dark side of the Super Bowl: human trafficking. Boston Police Department participated in a multi-day operation targeting sex buyers — so called “johns.” The stings were part of the fifth National Day of Johns Arrests: an effort spearheaded by Cook County (Illinois) Sherriff’s Office that brought together more than 20 other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies around the country to arrest in total 1,147 sex buyers — including 55 men in Boston.

While women’s bodies were being used to peddle products in Super Bowl commercials, they were also actual “products” being bought by countless johns.

Prostitution is the end point of all sex trafficking — sex buyers perpetuate a violent, exploitive industry that fuels organized crime. If no one were buying sex, pimps wouldn’t be supplying backpage.com, hotels, and back alleys with victims. Sex trafficking is happening in our country, in our own backyard. The most proactive police forces (including our own) are holding buyers accountable and sending the message: We will not tolerate the purchase of our girls.

Buyers better beware.

In a press release about the Boston operation, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley stated “Anyone who considers buying sex — especially from an underage girl or boy — should remember the physical and emotional damage that are part and parcel of commercial sexual exploitation. If that’s not enough, they should also remember that the person on the other end of that email or text message could very well be a Boston Police Officer.” Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, Senator Mark Montigny, and Representative Flaherty clearly understood the inextricable link between prostitution and sex trafficking, as evidenced by the strong anti-demand provisions in the human trafficking legislation they championed (in effect since last February) that set a minimum fine of $1,000 (and up to $5,000) for buying sex from an adult.

Community members throughout our city are finding inspiration for eradicating demand from other locales. Neighborhood watch programs, prevention school curricula, and public awareness campaigns have been launched around the US, sending the message through billboards and PSAs “Dear John, It’s Over.” Buyers themselves have told us what would make them stop. In a Boston study comparing 100 sex buyers to 100 men who don’t buy sex, 88 percent of the buyers said if a letter were sent home, they’d be deterred. 82 percent said they’d think twice if they knew their picture or name were printed in a local newspaper.But with these and most other tactics, including transformative “john schools,” community service programs, and jail time, the buyer needs first to be arrested.

Holding buyers accountable is only one important part of a comprehensive approach. We must also prosecute traffickers and empower survivors through social services, job training, trauma counseling and education. Our society must recognize commercial sexual exploitation as a devastating human rights violation. Sadly, all too often we still hear truisms such as “victimless crime” between “consenting adults,” and “boys will be boys.” This trivialization is pervasive. It’s on movie screens, TV, radio, and even on the t-shirts of our teens. It’s become part of the fabric of our country. We need a cultural shift.

1860477_f520Our nation’s collective understanding of illegal commercial sex is distorted. Few know the age women enter prostitution. Not 25. Not 18. In fact, they aren’t “women” at all; 15 is the average, with some as young as 6. These girls are exploited, including raped — often more than ten times a day. Many come from foster care, and almost all have a history of sexual abuse. Survivors tell us and research corroborates that up to 90 percent of those “in the life” would leave if they felt they had a choice.

Do some women freely choose to sell sex? Maybe. But they’re the well-publicized exception, and we don’t build our policies and laws on the experiences of the minority when the damage to the majority is so great. For good reason, purchasing a human being is illegal, and it needs to be treated as such. We must stop understating the seriousness with loaded euphemisms and start arresting sex buyers for the crimes they commit.

Buying sex and getting away with it? Not anymore. Thank you to the Boston Police Department and the many leaders in our state and city governments for holding buyers accountable.

Hoosiers work to stem human trafficking in Indiana

300_58753INDIANAPOLIS – Friday is International Women’s Day — a day to empower women around the globe and bring attention to the very real problem of human trafficking.

More than 17,000 people are trafficked into America every year, and 80 percent of them are women and little girls. Some of them end up enslaved in central Indiana.

A group took to Monument Circle Friday to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and collect signatures on a petition to send to Washington, D.C.

“Our goal today is to stand for freedom,” said Marcus Rinaldi, from his spot on Monument Circle. “We’re partnering with the International Justice Mission , standing for the 27 million people that are enslaved today.”

Recently, vice police have been cracking down to free those forced to work in unthinkable conditions in massage parlors, restaurants and other places in central Indiana.

“One person has described it as just hell,” said Rachael Balakin, who was on Monument Circle Friday. “They’re just completely afraid for their lives on a daily basis, but also trapped by that fear that their trafficker could kill them at any moment if they try to escape and they may never see their families again.”

In Broad Ripple, sisters Kelly and Anne Campbell are fighting human trafficking through their non-profit group and their store — The Village Experience .

They travel the globe teaching trades to help women become self-sufficient, and they sell items made by women they’ve taught.

“It’s a group called ‘Made By Survivors’ and we spent almost the entire month with them, and every single one of the jewelry makers have been rescued out of a brothel,” Kelly Campbell said.

They also focus on prevention. For example, proceeds from the products will go to orphanages in Thailand to empower those little girls, and hopefully keep them from becoming victims of the slave trade.

“There are so many groups, whether it’s directly rescuing women from prostitution or supporting orphanages when they’re young so that they don’t have to go into that world,” Anne Campbell said.

The goal of the group on Monument Circle is to get 150,000 signatures Friday alone on petitions across the country to send to President Obama.

3 ways you can combat sex trafficking

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“I am afraid to go home. My father’s friends used to rape me weekly and said if I told anyone they would bring shame to my family.” This statement was made by a teenage girl I interviewed in India recently as part of my research into rehabilitation processes for survivors of sex trafficking. To escape this abusive home situation, she ran away, and in the process was trafficked from Bangladesh to India. She spent two years in a brothel before being rescued by Rescue Foundation. She was 14 years old.

It is estimated that 27 million slaves are being held worldwide, with the most common form being sexual exploitation of women and girls, according to the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report for 2012. International Women’s Day marks a time to celebrate the victories of women’s rights across the world, but it is also a call to act together against sex trafficking – around the world and in the United States.

For close to two years, I saw the reality of sex trafficking first hand as I lived in India and worked with an organization that rescued girls from commercial sexual exploitation. When I moved to Harrisburg, Penn. to work at Messiah College, I was surprised to hear that a similar subculture existed in my own backyard. Carlisle, near Harrisburg, is one of the bigger hubs for trafficking in the East Coast of the United States due to a stretch of trucker motels and gas stations off of main highways.

What can be done about this global and complex problem? Here are three key ways that you can make a difference.

1. Get educated

Contact organizations like Polaris Project or the National Research Consortium for Commercial Sexual Exploitation for more information about trafficking issues in your area, and guidance for what is needed to help.

Learn about the factors that foster vulnerability to trafficking such as poverty, unsafe migration, subcultures of gender discrimination, lack of education, demand, and lack of law enforcement. Investigate reputable organizations like International Justice Mission or GEMS, examine their approaches to combat trafficking, and consider volunteering or supporting their interventions.

OPINION: Sex for sale: Why Sweden punishes buyers

2. Get involved

There are many organizations that can suggest ways to get involved in the fight against sex trafficking, both globally and locally. But sometimes, an individual’s best help is to be alert and ask questions.

Eldon Fry, campus minister for Messiah College, told me this story: “We met a person at Harrisburg International Airport from the Philippines via Qatar headed for Pittsburgh. It sounded fishy so we intervened, and she was ultimately rescued by Homeland Security. We have stayed connected, and she is receiving support from the Polaris Project and is waiting for trial against her “employer,” who was poised to traffick her.”

Ashley Sheaffer, a faculty member at Messiah College, monitors Craigslist for Harrisburg, Carlisle, and Philadelphia for advertisements that might be associated with trafficking and reports them to partner organizations that work with law enforcement to rescue women who have been trafficked.

These are two examples of people in ordinary communities doing their part in the fight against sex trafficking.

THE MONITOR’S VIEW: The Village Voice and the selling of children for sex on the Internet

3. Organize and take action

If you see genuine needs that you can help with that are not being covered by existing services, organize a team and a strategy with clear objectives. Your strategy should include partnerships with reputable organizations locally or globally to strengthen and coordinate interventions.

Approaches can include intervening in areas where women are trafficked from, through programs like education and micro-economic development to empower vulnerable populations and help with survivor re-integration. Other approaches can include intervening in areas where women are trafficked to, through services like raising awareness, education, advocacy, housing, counseling, legal assistance, and job training.

Reflect regularly on what is working, what is not working, and why. Build in a feedback system to partner organizations for continual learning, guidance, and accountability.”

THE MONITOR’S VIEW: A stop sign for human trafficking

Triveni Acharya, winner of the 2008 Woman of Peace Award and president of Rescue Foundation told me, “Sex trafficking, or modern day slavery, is not only a criminal justice issue, but a human rights issue. It prevents women the freedom to make their own decisions, which is their fundamental right.” On International Women’s Day – and beyond – we should remember that we can all play a part in combating the sex trafficking that strips women of those rights.