Slavery still exists. It’s estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016, according to newly released figures by the United Nation’s International Labor Organization.
“Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world,” said Albert Artis during a Breakfast Rotary speech in McMinnville.
Artis is on the staff of Destiny Rescue, an organization that fights to free trafficked children. He is the deputy regional manager headquartered in Atlanta.
According to Destiny Rescue, the average cost of a trafficked human life is $90.
At the invitation of a friend who was a volunteer with Destiny Rescue, Artis visited brothels overseas in the East where children – some under 5 – were being trafficked in the vast pedophile tourism market. His friend was there to investigate and attempt to rescue at least some of the children from the constant nightmare of childhood sex slavery.
It’s estimated child sex exploitation as a business is bringing in $150 billion a year to those who control the youthful victims and send them out for paid sexual encounters many times a day and night with men who converge from all over the world on Thailand, India, Cambodia and other South Asian nations where law enforcement is overwhelmed – or corrupt and complicit.
“There are 1.2 million children who are trafficked every year,” said Artis. “That’s one child every 26 seconds.”
One of those victims the charity rescued in its Thailand operations was a 4-year-old girl.
Most of the trafficked children are female, but there is sector in the illicit industry that specializes in renting out small boys to homosexual clients.
“There are children who are crying, dying and destitute,” said Artis, noting that in some cases the parents of young girls sell their children to traffickers, often because of severe economic hardship and desperation.
Artis cited one case in which a girl was successfully rescued thanks largely to the persistent efforts of her grandmother working with Destiny Rescue.
Once the victims are brought out of slavery they are immediately started in an intensive, six-month program of counseling and psychological rehabilitation. One of the most common challenges is the children have learned to distrust any adult. After months, or years, of abuse and exploitation, the young victims are suspicious of all grown-ups, Artis said.
The rehabilitation is conducted in sheltered group homes where as many as a dozen former sex slaves live and learn handcrafts and trades, including the manufacture of jewelry items that are then marketed globally to earn funds to sustain the charity’s work. Since its creation in 2011, Destiny Rescue has been the vital bridge whereby more than 2,000 juvenile victims have crossed into productive, healthy lives, often starting families of their own.
“It’s amazing how kids can rebound,” Artis said.