Karen Karpinski with the organization End Slavery Tennessee will be a guest on WCPI 91.3 public radio’s Focus program with Bill Zechman at 5:05 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday, and again at 1:05 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.
End Slavery Tennessee is a voluntary organization whose focus is to raise public awareness and to rescue victims of human trafficking. The group works with law enforcement to rescue victims of human trafficking, including labor and sex trafficking.
“Worldwide human trafficking is a $32 billion industry,” Zechman said.
Karpinski said, “In spite of our organization, human trafficking is very much a growing problem. People don’t understand it is happening in their towns. At least 100,000 to 200,000 American citizens are involved in trafficking. The majority of survivors we encounter are those in sex slavery.”
Karpinski said, “Trafficking exportation happens everywhere. Within the last couple of years we have uncovered large trafficking organizations worldwide. These organizations are bringing women from Mexico are forcing them into prostitution. They are serving customers 15 to 16 times per day, six days a week. They move them on Sunday to keep them disoriented and to keep them from being found. Sex trafficking is happening in many small towns throughout Middle Tennessee and Kentucky. They find the demand is there. Without demand, there is no trafficking.”
Karpinski said the sex traffickers will move to a town and rent a house. “They don’t need a storefront or a sign because they will post very provocative pictures of young girls on the Internet,” she said.
Karpinski said her organization has worked with victims as young as 3 years old, although most range in age from young teens to 20s.
According to the End Slavery Tennessee website, the majority of child sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens.
In 2006, Shared Hope International received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to perform field research on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking which is sex trafficking of American children. The report states: “American children are victims of sex trafficking within the United States. Domestic child victims tend to be easy targets and carry less risk for the traffickers and buyers than adults and foreign nationals. As transportation of human trafficking victims across borders becomes increasingly difficult and dangerous, the trend is to target children here in the U.S.”
According to a report released by the TBI, out of runaways who are actually reported each year, approximately 1,000 are trafficked.
Almost 80 percent of victims are female, but boys are victims of human trafficking also, for both labor and sex.
More information about human trafficking, including common tactics used to enslave youth, can be found at BeTheJam.org. To learn more about human trafficking in Tennessee, visit www.endslaverytn.org.