Combating Human Traffickingby Representative Joyce Beatty
Posted on 2015-01-26
BEATTY. Mr. Speaker, first let me just say thank you to my
colleague from Missouri, Congresswoman Ann Wagner, for organizing
tonight's Special Order hour but, probably more importantly, a
bipartisan Special Order hour. And let me say, I proudly wear this
bracelet in honor of all of those survivors.
I also want to note that her work as a former United States Ambassador exposed her firsthand to the horrors of human trafficking on an international level. Her work has raised awareness of this problem and has laid the foundation for congressional action.
Despite international efforts to eradicate human trafficking, it still exists and affects communities in every country, including the United States. This transnational crime exploits the weakest and often subjects victims to mental and physical abuse.
Human trafficking is an estimated multibillion-dollar-a-year international enterprise that forces the weakest among us into the horrors of modern day slavery.
It is also one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world. In fact, according to the United States State Department, human trafficking is the world's second-largest criminal enterprise, Mr. Speaker, after illegal drug trade. It is forced prostitution, domestic slavery, and forced labor.
It is also oftentimes underground and masked so well that it is difficult to recognize. These victims are our housekeepers, our farmworkers brought into the United States by labor brokers who promised a job but enslaved these victims instead. Sex traffickers target the weakest members of our society by using violence or threats or other coercive means to keep victims enslaved.
Human trafficking deprives individuals of their most basic and unalienable rights--life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why we must continue to work to end human trafficking and support the victims by providing resources and assistance during their time of need.
My home State of Ohio is the fifth-leading State for human trafficking. In Ohio, an estimated 1,100 Ohio children become victims, with some 3,000 more at risk. In fact, a preliminary report on the scope of the problem in Ohio cited that 13 years of age is the most common age for youth to become victims of child sex trafficking.
During my time in public service, as a public servant both in the Ohio Legislature and here, I have heard story after story of heartbreaking personal human trafficking experiences from Ohio. Just 2 weeks ago, my hometown paper, The Columbus Dispatch, reported that a massage spa in central Ohio was serving as a front for organized prostitution, where 18 women who spoke little or no English were forced to work there, eat there, and sleep there. Authorities believe that these women were likely trafficked into the United States to work in a sex trade.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a copy of this article placed into the Record.
[From the Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 15, 2015] (By Theodore Decker) Behind the Powell storefront--between a dentist's office and a dessert shop--the women slept each night on massage tables.
Rarely, investigators say, did they appear to leave the Amsun Massage Spa, a business that caught the attention of Powell police not long after it opened last fall in a strip mall at 128 E. Olentangy St.
The women worked there. They ate there. They slept there. They might not have had a choice, authorities said.
Local, state and federal investigators announced yesterday that the massage parlor was a front for organized prostitution and was one of four addresses raided in Delaware and Franklin counties as part of Powell's investigation. A parallel federal investigation resulted in searches of other addresses, although details of those raids were under court- ordered seal yesterday.
The combined searches turned up 18 women who speak little or no English and might have been trafficked to work in the sex trade. Investigators said various agencies have stepped in to provide shelter and other support to the women.
``They don't know the culture, they don't speak the language, and they're very untrusting of law enforcement,'' said Nathan Emery, special agent in charge of the Columbus office of the federal Homeland Security Investigations agency.
The women fear deportation, a threat that was used by their employers to keep them in line, police said. Authorities are trying to pin down their identities and countries of origin.
``We are not just arresting those who are suspected of trafficking women for sex, we are also rescuing those who may be victims of this heinous crime,'' said Cmdr. Gary Cameron of the Columbus police narcotics bureau.
Powell's search warrants were served at Amsun Massage in Powell; Amsun Massage, l000 High St., Worthington; Rainbow Massage, 5564 Hilliard-Rome Rd. on the Far West Side; and a Jasmine Court residence on the Far West Side.
A man and woman from Columbus were arrested: Xiao Shuang Chao, 56, and Qing Xu, whose age was unknown. Investigators aren't sure of the couple's relationship but said they operated the businesses locally. They face organized-crime charges in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
Powell Police Chief Gary Vest said that soon after Amsun opened, his department was tipped that women were living there and providing sex-related services to clients.
Emery said women are brought to the United States by human traffickers and, instead of finding a better life, ``to pay off their debts, they're put into forced servitude.'' Mrs. BEATTY. Because of the importance of this issue in my State and in our Nation, I engaged during my first term in Congress to pass a sex trafficking bill, 400-9. Last year, as you heard from Congresswoman Wagner, I partnered with Senator Portman from Ohio to introduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Bringing Missing Children Home Act, H.R. 3905.
This Congress, I have introduced H.R. 246, which would improve and update the Missing Children's Assistance Act in order to reflect the current state of Federal law and reinforce that children who are sex- trafficked or sexually exploited are victims and not criminals.
Lastly, my bill would add the phrase ``sex child trafficking, including child prostitution'' to section b(1)(P) of the Missing Children's Assistance Act to fight the perception that sex trafficking is a voluntary, victimless crime.
Mr. Speaker, I am honored to join my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, in speaking against and bringing awareness of human trafficking. Our country, our constituents, our children need our help.