Playground, written and directed by Libby Spears, reveals that human trafficking is as much a problem in the United States as it is globally. I think that it is easy for us as American citizens to believe that we live in a perfect country, and that human trafficking of men, women and children only happens in other countries. Why would we think any different since all of our media outlets from movies, music, news, and internet tell us so.
However, after watching this documentary I was made aware that in reality U.S. citizens account for 25% of child sex tourists world wide, and that the number one destination for a U.S. citizen who is seeking sex with a child is America. The statistics presented in this documentary are truly shocking:
- 300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked
- There are over 600,000 sex offenders registered in our FBI database
- 5,930,615 pornographic pictures of children online have been reported yet only 874 children have been identified and reported
- Before 2001 pimping a child in Georgia was only a $50 misdemeanor charge
- Atlanta is ranked #13 for child sex tourism in the world
These statistics clearly reveal how the extent to which sex trafficking is a problem in the United States, and in particular child sex trafficking. Child sex trafficking is organized crime that is rapidly growing both in locally and globally because pimps and customers view prostitution to be a victimless crime. Interviews done with sex-offenders and pimps reveal that they believe that they are actually helping the girls they prostitute as well as the economy.
Organized crime groups find sex trafficking much more appealing than drugs or weapons because there is high revenue to be made in this business but very low cost. Children are easily accessible, easily manipulated and there is virtually no risk. The legal systems that we have put in place do not adequately protect victims, and now with the Internet it is becoming even more difficult to track these children and save them. The Internet has given pimps another means of recruiting and exploiting these victims.
It is easy to think that the victims of these crimes must be children with low education and socioeconomic classes, but that is not the case. There is no profile for a victim of this crime anymore. In the documentary they discussed several case studies of girls who have been trafficked each were from a variety of backgrounds. Some were from nice, caring families while others were in and out of the foster care system.
I think that it is of vital importance that we change the culture around sex that has been established in America in order to actively fight against child sex trafficking. There is a growing number of women who view their sexuality as their greatest asset and not their intellect or personality. When young girls are exposed to this mentality through magazines, movies, and music they are given the wrong impression regarding sex. All around us through television ads and billboards sex is glamorized in a way that does not show people the path of how to sexually respect one another. It is important that we can have open and mature conversations regarding sex in order to inform and protect ourselves from the manipulative antics of pimps.
After watching Playground I am not only shocked by the prevalence of child sex trafficking in the United States but I am also empowered to take a stand and do what I can to help remedy this problem. I think that the first step of this process is to educate myself on all the issues surrounding human trafficking and I look forward to writing more blogs soon!
Mansi Trivedi, Intern at ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now