Saturday, February 15, 2014

Even in small scale operations, law enforcement loves to inflate numbers

I love how Law Enforcement loves to inflate numbers to make it sound like they are doing more than they are actually doing, or that they need to justify the vast waste of our resources on our Predator Panic obsession.

One of the newest prevailing myths is that the Super Bowl is now a yearly magnet for roughly 100,000 "sex traffickers," or what we used to like to refer to as "prostitution." You see, we no longer refer to prostitutes as prostitutes, but "sex trafficking victims." Now granted, a small number of Americans are forced into doing really bad things, like forced prostitution. Many more do so for reasons such as supporting a habit or because it is fast and easy money. That 100,000 number is ridiculous, by the way, since the biggest Super Bowl in history had about 105,000 or so official attendees. That would be about one prostitute for damn near every Super Bowl attendee. But I digress.

I wanted to point out a couple of glaring issues and nagging questions with this "news article" regarding "sex trafficking" arrests from this year's Super Bowl. Now, I must address a caveat. I have already stated that forced sexual slavery is a bad thing. I'm merely taking note of the over-inflated stats surrounding this newest myth.

16 Teens Rescued From Sex Trafficking in Super Bowl Sting
by Rachael Denhollander | Washington, DC | | 2/7/14 11:34 AM

It’s the ugly side of the Super Bowl – the reality that America’s most popular sporting event is also likely America’s biggest day for sexual slavery. The day that sells the most tickets and the most coveted ad spaces is also the day that results in the most sales of little girls and women, at prices inflated to match the expense of the event. In a cruel outplay of the economic reality of “supply and demand,” it is not only local pimps who make a big profit – women and girls from all over the country are often brought in to the destination city to ensure that travelers for the big game have enough “side entertainment” available.

So now the "Super Bowl" is the "biggest day" for "sexual slavery." I find that hard to believe, given the headline stated a whopping 16 teens were "rescued." Compared to other large scale operations the police love to brag about, this seems like a relatively small number of fish for such a wide net.

As awareness of this evil phenomenon has grown, law enforcement officials and private organizations have been stepping up efforts to bring the activity to a halt, with Sunday’s event seeing perhaps the most intense and organized movement to date. In the six months leading up to the Super Bowl, the FBI partnered with both state and local law enforcement officials, more than 50 agencies in all, to create a coordinated effort not only in New Jersey, but throughout other states where pimps and their victims may be traveling from or through to supply the host city with enough “workers” to meet the demands of the big day.

Take note. OVER FIFTY law enforcement agencies took part in this massive operation in New Jersey, where this year's Super Bowl was played, as well as states other states where prostitutes and their handlers may be traveling from. Which states, I wonder? Note the six months of planning for this.

The operation included training hotel staff and other employees working in venues focused on hospitality or travel assistance to recognize warning signs of human trafficking and respond appropriately. The coordinated effort is the result of the FBI’s  “Innocence Lost” initiative, a program established in 2003 in conjunction with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for the purpose of combating the trafficking and sale of minors.

I'd love to know what the NCMEC actually does besides make millions for John Walsh and Ernie Allen. I guess now is the time to PROVIDE THE LINK to the "Innocence Lost." So in 10 years, they are averaging about "270 rescues" annually. It is interesting these are very small numbers given the constant claims of "100,000 to 300,000 are children are sex slaves in the US." Also, how much does this operation cost taxpayers, given the number of agencies involved?

It is an effort that made a critical impact for dozens of women and children this weekend, as the FBI announced yesterday that it rescued more than 50 women forced into prostitution, as well as 16 minors being sold into sexual slavery. Six of the minors were recovered in New Jersey, while the others were recovered in surrounding states from pimps known to traffic victims across state lines, some of whom claimed to have traveled specifically to provide sexual services during Super Bowl events. In addition, 45 pimps were arrested in the coordinated operation.

This is where the story gets interesting. So actually, only six minors were actually recovered in NJ at this time? Also, were 50+ women actually "forced" into prostitution? Or were some smart enough to play along with that assumption? Of course, where are the other 99,934 sex trafficking victims being sold at the Super Bowl? Are they in hiding?

Of the children recovered, some were as young as 13, and none older than 17. Many were runaways who had been lured by pimps seeking desperate children, while some others were children who had been reported missing by their families, and still others were foreign nationals.

Interesting how the ages are mentioned here. "No one older than 17." That's because anyone ages 18+ aren't considered minors. Also, it is hard to justify using the word "many" when referring to 16 people.

But the biggest disconnect is found not on this article, but the "Innocence Lost project" page. Notice the look of the "child" in the graphic:

To me, the child in the graphic looks like a child, not a teenager. This graphic is a powerful propaganda tool. It implies a literal sale of children, not teenagers, some of whom apparently weren't forced into the sex trade. Even the writer of this article reluctantly mentions that some were teens "reported missing" or "foreign nationals." It is interesting because they are distinct categories from the category of those "lured by pimps." I guess it is easier to allow people to assume force when indeed some chose this profession. I'm not saying it is right for teens to chose the sex trade, I'm merely saying lets talk about the subject honestly, and cut out the propaganda.

It will be a long road for the women and children recovered, however. Brainwashing, brutal beatings, and threats of harm to family members are the normal living environment for victims of human trafficking, making it difficult to truly escape and heal. Many victims return to their captors out of fear or guilt, or as a result of Stockholm Syndrome.

Clemmie Greenlee, a victim of human trafficking who has dedicated her life to reaching other women in her situation, explains, “There’s no such thing as we want to go back to these guys, we do not feel that no one — not even the law — can protect us, and we do not want to die. … You can say you’re going to save us, you can say we don’t have to worry about the pimps no more. We already know what power they have shown us. So either you come back to them, or you find out two days later they either got your grandmother or they just broke your little baby’s arm.” In some ways, getting the women out is the easy part – helping them rebuild shattered lives is a much longer, much more difficult process.

Not all prostitutes have "pimps." Some are really bad people. However, this part of the article is a classical appeal to emotion. The implication is that ALL sex trade workers are this way. It may be more common in "street level" prostitution, but not so much with the "escort" level. Many women work independently, or their lovers act as protectors. Granted, drug abuse tends to be a primary motivator for prostitution for many people, and drugs make people do crazy things. It can also be like what is described here, but it isn't universal.


Yet every effort must begin somewhere.  Perhaps this weekend, for nearly 70 women and children, the first steps to healing and freedom have begun.

I'm not sure what the pro-life argument has to do with the article.

For those who suspect trafficking, contact your local police or the Department of Homeland Security at 1.866.347.2423. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center also staffs a toll-free 24-hour hotline at 888-373-7888.

I guess Homeland Security needs a job since they don't do anything else but sit around and look menacing.

It is interesting to note the semantics employed in this newest awareness campaign, with a very sexist connotation. Prostitutes are almost universally portrayed as "victims" of the sex trade, while "pimps" and, almost as frequently, "Johns" are almost universally portrayed as abusive men who are forcing women into sex. Some do, yes. But not all women are victims. Many choose the profession willingly. Not all men are abusive.

It is common to feel the need to portray the worst case scenarios to raise awareness of a serious but very rare issue. Unfortunately the rhetoric clouds truth and rational approaches to the issue at hand. Sex trafficking is the next great Predator Panic, and it can have a negative influence over already bad sex offender laws.