There can only be one winner emerging from this year’s
Super Bowl LIV showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas
City Chiefs, but the biggest losers will be the hundreds of young girls
and boys—some as young as 9 years old—who
will be bought and sold for sex during the course of the big game.
In order to avoid detection (in some cases aided and abetted by the police)
and cater to male buyers’ demand for sex with different women, pimps
and the gangs and crime syndicates they work for have turned sex
trafficking into a highly mobile enterprise, with trafficked girls,
boys and women constantly being moved from city to city, state to
state, and country to country.
For instance, the Baltimore-Washington area, referred to as The Circuit, with its I-95
corridor dotted with rest stops, bus stations and truck stops, is a hub
for the sex trade.
Every year, the girls being bought and sold gets younger and younger.
The average age of those being trafficked is 13. Yet as the head of a
group that combats trafficking pointed out, “Let’s think about what
average means. That means there are children younger than 13. That means 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds.”
“For every 10 women rescued, there are 50 to 100 more women who are
brought in by the traffickers. Unfortunately, they’re not 18- or
20-year-olds anymore,” noted a 25-year-old victim of trafficking. “They’re minors as young as 13 who are being
trafficked. They’re little girls.”
This is America’s dirty little secret.
But what or who is driving this evil appetite for young flesh? Who buys
a child for sex?
Catholic and Protestant churches have been particularly singled out in
recent years for harboring these sexual predators. Twenty years after
the clergy sex abuse scandal rocked the Catholic Church, hundreds of
sexual predators—priests, deacons, monks and lay people—continue to be
given work assignments in proximity to children. In many cases, the abuse continues unabated.
And then you have national sporting events such as the Super Bowl,
where sex traffickers have been caught selling minors, some as young as 9 years old. Yet
even if the Super Bowl is not exactly a “windfall” for sex traffickers
as some claim, it remains a lucrative source of income for the child
sex trafficking industry and a draw for those who are willing to pay to
rape young children.
Still, where did this appetite for young girls come from?
Look around you.
Young girls have been sexualized for years now in music videos, on
billboards, in television ads, and in clothing stores. Marketers have
created a demand for young flesh and a ready supply of over-sexualized
“In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it
doesn’t take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives,”
writes Jessica Bennett for Newsweek.
“Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living
rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms. According to a 2007
study from the University of Alberta, as many as 90 percent of boys and
70 percent of girls aged 13 to 14 have accessed sexually explicit
content at least once.”
Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. Many start
out as runaways or throwaways, only to be snatched up by pimps or
larger sex rings. Others, persuaded to meet up with a stranger after
interacting online through one of the many social networking sites, find
themselves quickly initiated into their new lives as sex slaves.
Debbie, a straight-A student who
belonged to a close-knit Air Force family living in Phoenix, Ariz., is
an example of this trading of flesh. Debbie was 15 when she was
snatched from her driveway by an acquaintance-friend. Forced into a
car, Debbie was bound and taken to an unknown location, held at
gunpoint and raped by multiple men. She was then crammed into a small
dog kennel and forced to eat dog biscuits. Debbie’s captors advertised
her services on Craigslist. Those who responded were often married with
children, and the money that Debbie “earned” for sex was given to her
kidnappers. The gang raping continued. After searching the apartment
where Debbie was held captive, police finally found Debbie stuffed in a
drawer under a bed. Her harrowing ordeal lasted for 40 days.
While Debbie was fortunate enough to be rescued, others are not so
With a growing demand for sexual slavery and an endless supply of girls
and women who can be targeted for abduction, this is not a problem
that’s going away anytime soon.
For those trafficked, it’s a nightmare from beginning to end.
Those being sold for sex have an average life expectancy of seven years,
and those years are a living nightmare of endless rape, forced
drugging, humiliation, degradation, threats, disease, pregnancies,
abortions, miscarriages, torture, pain, and always the constant fear of
being killed or, worse, having those you love hurt or killed.
Peter Landesman paints the full horrors of life for those victims of
the sex trade in his New York Times article “The Girls Next Door”:
Andrea told me that she and the
other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them
off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being
forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was
asked to play roles: the therapist patient or the obedient daughter.
Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex
partners--toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens--as well as what she
called a “damage group.” “In the damage group, they can hit you or do
anything they want to,” she explained. “Though sex always hurts when
you are little, so it’s always violent, everything was much more
painful once you were placed in the damage group.”
What Andrea described next shows just how
depraved some portions of American society have become. “They’d get you
hungry then to train you” to have oral sex. “They put honey on a man.
For the littlest kids, you had to learn not to gag. And they would push
things in you so you would open up better. We learned responses. Like
if they wanted us to be sultry or sexy or scared. Most of them wanted
you scared. When I got older, I’d teach the younger kids how to float
away so things didn’t hurt.”
Immigration and customs enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center
in Fairfax, Va., report that when it comes to sex, the appetites of
many Americans have now changed. What was once considered abnormal is
now the norm. These agents are tracking a clear spike in the demand for harder-core
pornography on the Internet. As one agent noted, “We’ve
become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder
This trend is reflected by the treatment many of the girls receive at
the hands of the drug traffickers and the men who purchase them. Peter
Landesman interviewed Rosario, a Mexican woman who had
been trafficked to New York and held captive for a number of years. She
said: “In America, we had ‘special jobs.’ Oral sex, anal sex, often
with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder.”
Holly Austin Smith was abducted
when she was 14 years old, raped, and then forced to prostitute
herself. Her pimp, when brought to trial, was only made to serve a year
Barbara Amaya was repeatedly sold
between traffickers, abused, shot, stabbed, raped, kidnapped,
trafficked, beaten, and jailed all before she was 18 years old. “I had
a quota that I was supposed to fill every night. And if I didn’t have
that amount of money, I would get beat, thrown down the stairs. He beat
me once with wire coat hangers, the kind you hang up clothes, he
straightened it out and my whole back was bleeding.”
As David McSwane recounts in a chilling piece for the Herald-Tribune:
“In Oakland Park, an industrial Fort Lauderdale suburb, federal agents
in 2011 encountered a brothel operated by a married couple. Inside ‘The
Boom Boom Room,’ as it was known, customers paid a fee and were given a
condom and a timer and left alone with one of the brothel’s eight
teenagers, children as young as 13. A 16-year-old foster child
testified that he acted as security, while a 17-year-old girl told a
federal judge she was forced to have sex with as many as 20 men a
One particular sex trafficking ring catered specifically to migrant
workers employed seasonally on farms throughout the southeastern
states, especially the Carolinas and Georgia,
although it’s a flourishing business in every state in the country.
Traffickers transport the women from farm to farm, where migrant
workers would line up outside shacks, as many as 30 at a time, to have
sex with them before they were transported to yet another farm where
the process would begin all over again.
This growing evil is, for all intents and purposes, out in the open.
Trafficked children are advertised on the internet, transported on the
interstate, and bought and sold in swanky hotels.
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