Forced labour and rape, the new face of slavery in America
(Guardian) -- In the Midwestern heartland, police are encountering a new social evil: trafficking, often involving women and children who are forced to work as prostitutes or unpaid labour; and the outcomes can be brutal.
Figures from the State Department reveal that 17,500 people are trafficked into the US every year against their will or under false pretences, mainly to be used for sex or forced labour. Experts believe that, when cases of internal trafficking are added, the total number of victims could be up to five times larger. And increasing numbers of trafficked individuals are being transported thousands of miles from America's coasts and into heartland states such as Ohio and Michigan.
"It is not only a crime. It is an abomination," said Professor Mark Ensalaco, a political scientist at the University of Dayton, Ohio, who organised a recent conference on the issue. In Ohio a human trafficking commission has just been set up to study the problem, while in the northern Ohio city of Toledo a special FBI task force is tackling the issue. For many local law enforcement officials, it is a bewildering new world.
In one recent incident a 16-year-old Mexican girl was found to have been trafficked across the US border. Doctors noticed the heavily pregnant girl showed clear signs of physical abuse when she was brought into a hospital in Dayton to give birth. The police were called but the couple who had brought her had already fled. When the girl's story emerged, it became clear she had been kept against her will in the nearby city of Springfield and used for labour and sex. "I thought slavery ended a few centuries ago. But here it is alive and well," said Springfield's sheriff, Gene Kelly.
He emphasised the risks to the girl's baby after it had been born if the doctors had not been so alert: "Like the mother, the baby could have ended up a victim for years to come. Who knows? Future labour? Future person to traffic?"...Cont'd...LINK