The Frederick County Council workshop on human trafficking really left an impression on the Local Yokel writers’ fret-o-meter. Because of our former BOCC president’s legal issues, we have focused on the sex trafficking aspect of this multifaceted modern day enslavement, while in reality law enforcement has identified issues with labor trafficking as well. At any rate, when we learned that Frederick Community College would be hosting a sex trafficking victim, we wanted to go hear this woman speak.
It was a lot to process. We have a few takeaways to share. People who fall into this are vulnerable in some way from the outset. Their vulnerabilities make them ideal victims. This woman was a 12 year old runaway from Fairfax County. She was having behavior problems, and no one in the community or school system correctly identified the source of the problem as the abuse she was suffering at the hands of a family member. This was one aspect the county cited as a reason the workshop topic was necessary. So that educators in our county receive the appropriate training to stop this in its tracks. And some people made a bunch of noise trying to say this training was some kind of perk for the teachers (this thinking is literally impossible to understand, but it bears repeating because our least favorite school board candidate, Cindy Rose, was a part of that).
Another aspect of the issue involves law enforcement. This young girl was sent to Riker’s at the age of sixteen because she had been abused into submission and would never give her real name, age, or circumstances to authorities. Later in life–it’s truly a miracle she is alive–after escaping this hell, she lost her job due to an extensive arrest record tied to the one set of fingerprints common to all these assumed names. Another part of the county workshop highlighted the need to train law enforcement to ask the right questions and find the right resources. Immediately. This would ensure that victims are not victimized further by a dysfunctional justice system, or the social system as a whole.
And a moment to discuss what an amazing human being we saw speak. Her name is Barbara Amaya. She said someone told her the average life expectancy of someone taken into sex trafficking is seven years. Not only did she return from ten years living this nightmare with just a sixth grade education and somehow cobble together as normal a life as possible–as a parent, a functional member of society, and now someone who writes books, mentors people, speaks in public (in spite of obvious reservations about taking on that role). She is also working with our House and Senate to pass legislation for Safe Harbor and to get the records of sex trafficking victims expunged. Amazing. What a gift she has given to this world out of some truly horrible circumstances.
One thing she was quick to point out is that there is no such thing as child prostitution. If you are having sex with a minor, the only word for that is rape. She was raped dozens of times a day. Let’s take that a step farther, though. If you are having sex with a person of any age, whether you bought the services or not, and someone else is brutalizing that person so that he or she will engage in your commercial exchange of funds for services, what exactly are you doing? Making love? And legalizing prostitution only helps the “customer” avoid punishment for his involvement in this. It incentivizes sex traffickers to find more victims. There really aren’t two sides to this issue. You’re either deplorable or you aren’t. More about that in a second.
It’s been a bee in our bonnet ever since Billy Shreve objected to the need for a human trafficking workshop by running his mouth off without thinking (shocker) and saying that there are groups both for and against this. We know he has a friend who has a history of poor decision making with regard to his sex life. (A friend we feel zero sympathy for when he takes to Facebook to criticize everyone for not being more understanding of his troubles and demons.) Shut up. We don’t know if you know what deplorable means, and we’re pretty sure you think you are using this stupid sign ironically. Even if you don’t know what ironic means–and apparently you don’t, because it sure seems to be totally absent any irony to this clique of writers.