Florida Conference Says Human Trafficking Prevalent in US

“Latinas, African-Americans and indigenous women are disproportionately affected by human trafficking,” Norma Ramos, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) a non-profit organization dedicated to abolishing modern day slavery, told those attending the Hispanic National Bar Association’s 2nd Annual Human Trafficking Conference at the University of Miami.

“Everything that makes South Florida a great place to live,” said U.S. Prosecutor Barbara Martinez referencing diversity, the weather, its geographical position as a gateway to other nations, “makes it easier for traffickers to hide.” Martinez discussed a case involving Mexican nationals. The women had to service 30 to 40 “clients” per day, for $20 each. They had no days off. Every week or so, they were transferred to a new location in Florida.

Panelists agreed that the incidence of prostitution was exacerbated by poverty, but was caused by factors that include gender-based inequalities and vulnerabilities. Some women, including college co-eds, are made to believe that prostitution is a glamorous form of earning extra cash. Ramos challenged: “Do we really want to live in a country where prostitution is seen as a form of financial aid?”

Gail Dines, Professor of Sociology and Women Studies at Wheetlock College, author of the newly-released book Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, and co-founder of Stop Porn Culture argued that it is crucial that children be shielded from the effects of pornography. Dines argued that the porn industry has taken a page out of the tobacco playbook by making themselves available to young and impressionable “clients” whose “template” they can shape.

“We support this education because combating human trafficking is one of our top priorities,” said U.S. Prosecutor for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer, who wants the community to understand that human trafficking is real and that “those who commit these crimes will be brought to justice.” A federal task force will be working with Miami-Dade schools to develop an educational curriculum on this topic.

“We should all be offended,” said Miami Springs Councilman Dan Espino, acknowledging all the opportunities that his Cuban parents, and him as a first-generation American, have enjoyed as a result of hard work and study. “These (human) traffickers have turned the land of freedom and opportunity into one of oppression and torture.”

Learn more at Teresita Chavez Pedrosa’s VOXXI article: Human Trafficking in the United States, More Prevalent Than You Think.

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