January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and African America Human Trafficking Numbers Will Astound You. 

· 62% of human trafficking suspects are African American

· 52% of all juvenile prostitution arrests are African Americans

· 40 percent of victims of Human trafficking are African-Americans

· Human trafficking victims are typically poor and have a history of exploitation, substance or sexual abuse, learning disabilities and inadequate support systems. 

· Some argue that the demand for African Americans for sexual exploitation is higher than the that of other races and the penalties associated with trafficking African Americans are less severe

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Human Trafficking Among African Americans

african american human traffickingHuman trafficking, better known as modern-day slavery, is the trade of humans, most commonly for sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. Human trafficking victims are more likely to be African American than other ethnicities. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that 62% of Human trafficking suspects, including both children and adults, are African American. Additionally, African American children make up 52% of all juvenile prostitution arrests. In many instances, these children are not prostitutes. They are victims.  

Researchers and advocates alike are trying to understand why African American victims are overrepresented in human trafficking.  Some argue that the demand for African Americans is higher than the demand for other races. Others suggest that because African American men abduct and traffic the highest percentage of America’s Human trafficking victims, the traffickers have more connections to African American victims and operate more comfortably in low-income African American communities where many victims live.

Equally as disturbing is that traffickers interviewed for a recent Urban Institute study overwhelming believed that trafficking white women would make them more money, but trafficking black women would land them less jail time if caught. What is more, these traffickers are more than likely selling the services of, their victims to affluent and highly regarded Caucasian men.  As a result, advantaged Caucasian offenders are more relatable and thus more credible to jurors than a young, poor, less educated victim. Instead of protection, counseling and training, they are given jail time and the penalties of having a juvenile record.

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Cyntoia Brown is a prime example of an African American girl who was convicted of murder for killing her captor in 2004.  At 16 years of age, Cyntoia was prostituted by a pimp and later sold to a 43-year-old Caucasian male. In fear of her life, she shot and killed her solicitor. Her story was captured in the 2011 documentary Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story and brought to light by celebrities Rihanna and Kim Kardashian who advocated for her release. Follow #FreeCyntoiaBrown for more information.

Human Trafficking Awareness and Advocacy in Ohio

In 2017, nearly 14,000 telephone calls were made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Of those calls, 4,460 human trafficking cases were reported with 191 cases in Ohio.  The Buckeye State ranks #4 in the country for human trafficking cases reported, behind only California, Texas and Florida. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only about 13 percent of confirmed Human trafficking victims in the U.S. are 25 or older.  The Ohio Attorney General’s Office reported that 1,000 child and youth victims are forced into the Human trade each year, many being only middle-school age.

Now the question is, what can you do not only this month but all year long to help advocate for these young African American girls and women?

Your advocacy can also start with seeing the signs of human trafficking. As most national human trafficking campaigns suggest, If You See Something, Say Something!

Below are general indicators to pay attention to from people you have a relationship with, and those you don’t. These general indicators can be seen in both groups.

General Indicators from People You Know

General Indicators from People You Don’t Know

Multiple reports of running away

Appears malnourished and lacks medical care

Disconnection from family or other caregivers

Branded with bar code or number tattoos by pimp to show his/her ownership

Loss of interest in age-appropriate activities

Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account

Sexual activity/history of STDs and pregnancies

Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off

Large amounts of money, clothes or accessories with no explanation as to how obtained

Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid and avoids eye contact

Join the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and learn how Senate bills are being changed to expunge this activity from criminal records. End Slavery Cincinnati will hold their 2018 Human Trafficking Conference will be held at American Red Cross. Rights4Girls is one of the leading national advocacy organization working to improve the lives of marginalized girls, not only are girls of color disproportionately impacted by human trafficking.

If you suspect someone is being trafficked or know of his or her involvement, please call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to 233733 (BeFree).

The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans in the region. Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook for local news, events, job postings, scholarships and a database of local Black-owned businesses.

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