Rescue of trafficked teens highlights reality of growing problem
Caroline MacGregor July 30, 2013 | WGVU "You know, you kind of get a sense that this is the tip of the iceberg. We're hoping these types of operations will be done on a more consistent basis on a more local level, looking online for exploitation, looking hotels, street level, where that's occurring."
with Wedgwood Christian Services’ Manasseh Project Shelter/Trauma Recovery
Center, commenting on the rescue that included 10 victims rescued in the metro
“One of the things that was frustrating for me in the news yesterday, was people talking about breaking up a prostitution ring. It's not a prostitution ring, it's a human trafficking ring, it's a crime against a person; a person not choosing to be involved in it.”
attitudes toward trafficking today to that of domestic violence 20-30 years ago
when the subject was barely acknowledged. Today, it’s a different story and while
Soper believes we’re still another 20 years away from viewing trafficking in the same light, attitudes
toward sex exploitation, in just one year, have changed.
"I do see progress. The state of Michigan is talking about Safe Harbor act to protect 16 and 17 year old boys and girls from being charged with prostitution so there is progress. What would be nice to have is legislation that's clear on what human trafficking is so there's no grey area,so we're going after pimps without having the victim relive everything they've gone through; building cases sensitive to the victim, putting the pimp away for a longer period of time."
Soper says a once-a-year headline-making operation is not
enough; more is needed on the local level. Conversations with law enforcement
agencies including FBI, Homeland Security, and local detectives, make prosecuting
“The effort for us is changing our lens so we can see victims appropriately, rather than looking past them."
prosecutors are savvy in the way they go after the perpetrators of sex
trafficking; the pimps.
“Prosecutors are very tenacious so they're not going to just go after the pimp for the one charge of human trafficking, they're going to go after them for a number of things.”
In certain cases,
if victims are afraid to testify,
prosecutors can charge the pimp with domestic violence with an intimate partner.
children are thought to be at risk of sexual exploitation in the US each year. In addition to the Manasseh Project Recovery Center, four additional shelters have opened
across the country.
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