Sex trafficking: closer to home than many would guess

Keith Brumley

Keith Brumley?8 years old … plus 47?

I like to chat 8212; not online but with real people and my aim was to produce a short documentary about the reasons people ride the bus. Since I thought I needed a reason (other than making a film) to ride the bus, I decided a car buying trip was the ticket. I bought a used Jaguar on eBay, hoping to get a decent one on the cheap, enjoy it for a few months, and then resell it 8212; thus paying for the project.

While riding the bus, as providence would have it, I met a sex worker.

She was flamboyant, behaviorally erratic and absolutely gorgeous. I struck up a conversation with her. I explained to her, and who seemed to be her friend, what I was up to, asking for permission to film our conversations on the way. Her friend seemed ill at ease but they both agreed. During the trip “Jazzy” (not her real name) gave me her itinerary and email address 8212; but her friend didn’t like it. Jazzy had no reservations with how she represented herself. Her friend, however, said she worked for the Transit Authority in a large city. Both had far different destinations but were more familiar with each other than your average fellow travelers. I sensed a lie.

There’s such a thing as beginner’s luck but there’s also beginner’s incompetence. Most of the footage I shot is unusable. I’d also thrown away Jazzy’s contact information. Consequently, all I have is this story. Still, my memory of Jazzy chews at my conscience like an ill-behaved dog. I occasionally did searches on the Craigslist Adult Services section. I once thought I saw her half covered face but didn’t call. I didn’t want to have sex with her nor did I want trouble. I just wonder if she’s doing what she really wants.

Sex is big business and much of it is performed unwillingly by those who have been kidnapped and forced into prostitution. All sorts of stuff is at the root of their predicament: Poverty, illiteracy, drug addiction (often after the fact), no options for escape, coercion, death, and separation from family and/or friends. It becomes the only life they know and when used up, these people often disappear.

This doesn’t just happen in what used to be called the Third World or Developing Countries. The Third World 8212; at least in this respect 8212; is everywhere. The U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2001 recognizes all 8212; and more 8212; of what I’ve written above. The Feb. 6, 2009 edition ABC Primetime reported FBI estimates of 100,000 sex trafficking victims in the U.S. alone. The BBC show Women’s Hour reported in 2002 an estimated 1,000,000 (yes, a million) women and children get hooked into sex trafficking scams 8212; but the United Nations now sets that number at more than 2.5 million worldwide. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Campaign to Rescue and Restore Website as well as Niklas Jakobsson and Andreas Kotsadam’s article The Law and Economics of International Sex Slavery, note sex trafficking as second only to gun-running as the fastest growing world-wide criminal activity. On Sept. 16 a man in Minneapolis, just half a day’s drive away, was arrested for allegedly running a prostitution ring using minors. He advertised out of Craigslist and Backpage.

Children are often sold into slavery for $100 to $200. They and most human trafficking victims are looped through a sort of boot camp for whores. They’re threatened, beat, kept unaware, often given narcotics, and shipped through underground networks stretching around the globe. The world sex trafficking market is reputed to be more than $42 billion annually. Just imagine the retail value of a cute little girl or boy.

To close, I have no problems with making love. In fact, I rather enjoy it … A Bunch! Nothing has matched the absolute sensual joy of waking up next to an unclothed woman whom I care deeply about. Also, to paraphrase theologian Frederick Buechner, the inherent beauty of a woman prompts my breath to catch. I furthermore don’t mind being flirted with.

However, the next time you pull jack-off material from the web 8212; and I don’t just mean men 8212; remember that the people you’re watching probably don’t like what they’re doing. They may, in fact, have no choice in the matter. Consider them, perhaps, as the symbolic representation of your unborn child. Your perspective might shift.

As for the Jag, it’s an overblown, misrepresented piece of pretentious crap (but nevertheless a bargain at any price.) Besides, that car was my only way back 8212; and I now intend to recycle it.

Keith Brumley is an SDSU alumnus and current journalism graduate student at SDSU. Contact Keith at [email protected]