"It's very easy to understand force in terms of a physical
assault, but what about psychological coercion? But what about a threat against
a family member, what about a threat against a child who's left in a home
country?" he says. "We want to make the light bulb go
off and to recognize that something might be going on here that they need to
follow up with." – Victim
Creates Sex Slaves
By Marielena Zuniga
wears a clean white shirt, is 40-something and paces outside the massage parlor
in a seedier part of Toronto, Canada. He could be any man. A neighbor. A
brother. A co-worker. "Hello, sweetie," the Thai girl greets him from the
doorway, as she's been taught. She has a quota to meet. If she doesn't, she'll
be beaten or scorched with an iron by the madam running this brothel.
"John," as these men are called, has no way of knowing—nor does he care—that
this girl was trafficked into Canada by one of the Vietnamese and Chinese mafias
that bring anywhere from 8,000 to 15,000 women and children into the country
each year. He also doesn't know or care that this girl is guarded by a man with
a gun at all times, is not allowed to speak to others, and is drawn,
malnourished and exhausted.
The John peeks inside. Dim lights. Plenty of
girls. What he can't see are the squalid living conditions upstairs, the fetid
room with mattresses on the floor, the medication to induce abortions, the drugs
to numb the emotional and physical pain of sexual trauma.
"C'mon in," she
invites him, wondering that if this John has a daughter would he want her far
away from home, tricked into prostitution by promise of a good job. The girl
forces a smile, takes him by the hand and ushers him inside. She is only 15
Traffickers know exactly what
to say to kids to lure them into a feeling of security and comfort with the
promise of a new life. They give the victim the impression that it is their own
choice, that it is their own direction that they are following independently.
The child feels empowered and grown-up and that this new person understands them
like their parents do not.
Soon they are beaten, "softened," drugged,
and introduced to a sexual transaction. They are told it is their choice. They
are told that they will be arrested for prostitution and that the
trafficker/pimp is the one who will protect them now and keep them safe. They
can be sold or traded.
These men, the "johns," are
described as bankers and firemen and cops, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers.
It is possible that the prostitute they are visiting is not a volunteer. They
could be a slave, forced into this life against their will. It could be someone
you used to know, someone's daughter or sister or friend. You, the anonymous
john, could be the engine driving the machine.
Kikka Cerpa was forced
into a life of prostitution after her boyfriend persuaded her to leave Venezuela
and go to New York in 1992.
"I went to the United States thinking that I was going to
be working as a nanny, and I ended up being a
prostitute, not by choice," she said.
Cerpa said she was
beaten and raped and spent three years working in the sex trade to pay off her