Hurricane Harvey can leave its victims vulnerable to human trafficking
In the mind of a human trafficker, this is the perfect environment for anyone to disappear and be labeled as a casualty of nature's fury. The World Health Organization and the United Nations have tracked the increase of sexual violence associated with natural disasters since the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines. The United States is not immune to this travesty, as evidence from the eruption of Mount Saint Helens has shown. The South Asian Tsunami of 2004 is the first event that drew the media spotlight to bear on the despicable practice of human trafficking.
As relief workers and supplies began to flow into the torn and ravaged countryside, customs officials made a shocking discovery. Twenty pedophiles were apprehended as they attempted to board a plane. Their destination included the countries of Indonesia and Thailand where sick and injured children wandered alone and separated from their families. Nature had created a paradise for human traffickers and child molesters whose only intention was to target young children for fulfillment of their deepest perversion while shrouded by the chaos around them. Had it not been for the child sex offender registry, these twenty predators would have found themselves in fertile hunting grounds where no one was trained to stop them.
As a survivor of sext trafficking as a child, I was one of the lucky few that survived. I am speaking from experience when I tell you that a child can disappear in a public place in this country in a matter of seconds, never to be seen again. The people who kidnap children for their own personal sexual purposes or to sell them to others with the same perversion are as skilled as any special operations personnel both here and abroad. They are driven by forces that transcend any logic society possesses.
As President and CEO of Trafficking in America Task Force, I am proud to work in collaboration with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to fight for children made vulnerable by natural disasters. Together we are working to provide first responders, law enforcement, mental health professionals and medical professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to recognize and stop human traffickers in their tracks and protect our children.
To find out more about how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, visit the Trafficking in America Task Force (http://traffickinginamericataskforce.org/
Jerome Elam President and CEO Trafficking in
America Task Force