Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sex Slavery In Nearly Every County In Tennessee, Says TBI

Sex Slavery By County in Tennessee, Minors and Adults

The above image is from last week's special report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Human Sex Trafficking in the state and how it impacts children and adults, and how widespread this brutal practice has become.

The TBI Director Mark Gwyn says in his opening comments on this report (full online PDF here):

"The results of the study are shocking. Human trafficking and sex slavery in Tennessee is more common than previously believed possible. Focused specifically on victims between the ages of nine and seventeen, the study pulled together details that found children are moved from city to city in the state and sold as prostitutes. Tennessee, simply because of its geographical position to Atlanta and the large number of interstates that cross the state, is conducive to a traveling business.

Many times those promoting prostitution transport the child victims to large entertainment events or sporting venues where people are traveling through or visiting the state. These visitors, often referred to as ‘sex tourists’, quite often become the clients.

The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children reports that one in four children who run away from home are approached for commercial sexual exploitation within 48 hours of running away. The average age of a sex trafficking victim is 13.

Trafficking victims rarely come forward to ask for help on their own because they are drugged, brainwashed, threatened and beaten into believing authorities will abuse them worse than their captors. Many times victims are arrested for crimes they are forced to commit. Inherently, cases against the traffickers are difficult for law enforcement to investigate and a challenge to prosecute."

85 percent of the counties in this state have had reports on this cruel sexual slavery. Just a few weeks ago, a large multi-state slavery ring, operating two brothels in Hamblen County, was busted by the TBI and local law enforcement.

WBIR has a report here, including information from Christi Wigel, president of the Community Coalition against Human Trafficking in Knoxville.

Last week, the state legislature attempted to toughen the penalties and consequences for those who promote or participate and are forced to participate in this slavery. Sadly, the Senate added some changes that simply fall short of what's needed:

"This amendment also replaces the provisions of this bill that would make a minor who is charged with prostitution subject to the protective custody of the department of children's services as a possible victim of child sexual abuse. This amendment instead requires that a law enforcement officer who takes a person under 18 years of age into custody on suspicion of having committed prostitution, upon determination that the person is a minor, provide the minor with the telephone number for the national human trafficking resource center hotline and release the minor to the custody of a parent or legal guardian."

Hopefully, in the weeks ahead, local and state law enforcement will convince the state and the rest of us living in Tennessee to give them the tools they need to stop and prosecute these vermin and to provide real help to the minors trapped in Hell.

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