Friday, April 23, 2010

Suzanne Porcelli & Gambino's Sex Trafficking

Does the name Suzanne Porcelli ring a bell?  Well, it should. Porcelli is a member of the Gambino organized crime family -- yes, we still have the good old fashioned Mafia in addition to modern day street gangs. Porcelli and thirteen other people are facing an array of charges today, including what prosecutors called new criminal territory for the mob: sex trafficking of a minor.   

Kudos to the prosecutors who not only recognized the existence of the trafficking, but also had the cajonas to do something about it.  I hate that it takes a case like this to remind us that sex trafficking is very much alive and thriving in THIS country — The United States of America. Yes, people are sold in this country each and every day in large numbers.  Think about it this way: wherever drugs are sold so are women and children. 

Why is it that human trafficking is so pervasive and yet so misunderstood? Why do we assume that it's really an "overseas" issue? It's not because it does not exist here in the United States -- we know it does. The numbers are astounding. The sex trade is a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide. UNICEF estimates that approximately 1.2 million children around the world unwillingly become sex slaves every year. The other stats on human trafficking are terrible:

* 1.2 million children are trafficked every year   
* The average age of a trafficked victim is 14 years old   
* People are trafficked and exploited in 137 countries, including the United States   
* Between 14,500 and 17,500 victims are trafficked into the USA each year   
* The market value of illicit sex trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion   
* By 2010 Sex Trafficking will be the number one crime worldwide 

Human trafficking IS modern day slavery.  December 18, 1865 is the date slavery was abolished in America yet every 60 seconds in this country a woman or a child is trafficked or exploited.  

It is the commercial aspect that separates the crime of sex trafficking from other sexual acts against children, and it is this aspect where we need to see change. Frequently, law enforcers and prosecutors do not recognize the commercial aspect or are too lazy, understaffed or under-budgeted to investigate. Instead, they rationalize that just getting the "perp" in the process of committing the act is enough. 

However, they are failing to get to the real source of the traffickers, the pimps, etc. and are not fully utilizing the power of this law.
It is 'good' that in the case of the Gambino family the charges were trafficking and that this high profile case will bring more awareness to the pervasiveness of the crime. But it take more than prosecutors to realize that this crime exists.  It takes you the public, to accept that this is not just an overseas issue, it is an issue here.  So, what do you do?

1. Call human trafficking by what it is –modern day slavery.
2. A child “prostitute” is a victim of a crime. There is NO such thing as consensual sex with a minor. Learn to recognize victims and stop referring to them as perpetrators!
3. Educate yourself to the issue. Watch documentaries like the Playground Project and get the facts!
4. Think globally but act locally.  Find the organizations in your community that support the end of modern day slavery.
5. Support anti-trafficking laws and legislation.

After you do these, feel free to reach out to me as a proud founding member of the International Human Trafficking Task Force,, and the Nest Foundation,, I can help direct your energy and efforts.

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