When I was in Iraq, I was required to take training with regard to recognizing and reporting human trafficking. It was called TIPS, an acronym for Trafficking In Persons, and was developed by the State Department and the Army. What would happen, especially with companies outside of the US, was that when third country nationals would arrive, their passports were taken from them, rendering them essentially helpless.
I had staff from the Philippines as well as India, and heard horror stories about what it was like to work in the Middle East. Every single time I travelled through Dubai on my way back to the States, I would have a hotel staff person approach me and beg me to get them out. It turns out that Dubai is one of the busiest parts of the human trafficking pipeline, especially as it pertains to the sex trade.
Sadly, the State of Alabama has a new “title,” albeit a nefarious one. We are part of the biggest human trafficking pipeline in the United States, with the concentration being along I-20, particularly near Birmingham. We have a dreadful nickname: “The Sex Trafficking Super-Highway.” The purpose of this Publisher’s Point is to sound an alarm and to raise awareness. It is also to let you know that there are several fine faith-based organizations that are fighting back, and will give you an invitation to get involved, should you choose.
One of the most disturbing things about “the Super-Highway” is that it transcends those who are traditionally the most vulnerable, teens from broken homes, the fatherless who are looking for love in all the wrong places, or those who are struggling with drugs. The recruiting techniques are sophisticated, and are greatly aided by social media.
First up in this evil scheme is what is known as a “Bottom Girl.” A Bottom Girl functions as a madam of sorts, as she befriends a potential target as a peer, gains her trust, and as is always necessary to close a deal, offer options, most often money or material things. The Well House is an Alabama-based ministry that helps victims of prostitution and sex trafficking, and has the following to say:
“The Bottom Girl introduces the girl to a new friend at a party. This new ‘friend’ quickly wins the admiration of the victim through different means, typically lavish gifts and the promise of ‘grown-up’ life experiences. Through this enticing, trusting relationship, the trafficker entices the teen to run away from home. And he or she will put them up in an apartment. Once the trap has been set, there’s no easy means of escape. And so enters I-20, the perfect means of transportation for this valuable ‘product’.”
EnditAlabama.org is another organization that is committed to put a stop to human trafficking in Alabama, and is holding a conference in Montgomery on February 5th, educating the public and legislatures with regard to trafficking here in our state. For more information, go to enditalabama.org
Athens Now is going to be featuring an article some time this Spring sponsored by Set Them Free International, which is also based here in Alabama. And finally, my friend Kathrine Lee has formed an organization called Pure Hope, which is involved in rescuing, housing, and restoring sex slaves to their God-given dignity. Pure Hope is headquartered in Texas.
Very soon I am going to be able to support Pure Hope on a regular basis, and I would request that you prayerfully consider doing what you can to shut down the Super-highway.