"SLAVERY is not an obsolete relic of the past, it is a global industry that generates $32 billion in profits through forced labor and the bodies of tens of millions of human beings each year."
This is what Ivan Cole, who sits on the board of the Life After Trauma Organization, told an audience yesterday during a conference hosted by the nonprofit at Temple University to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of human trafficking. LATO helps women recover from the trauma of human trafficking.
"The main reason why traffickers engage in this crime is because it is extremely lucrative," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan, during a panel discussion that included six experts on the issue.
According to data from the U.S. State Department, it is estimated that 800,000 people are traded across international borders per year.
Morgan and Common Pleas Court Judge Lori Dumas, one of the panelists, emphasized that the sex trade and human trafficking occurs daily in Philadelphia.
Dumas, who is assigned to the court's Family Division and hears cases involving children, said she has looked at cases that exhibited signs of being linked to human trafficking during her 12 years on the bench.
"There is nothing like sitting next to a child who has been brutalized mentally, physically and emotionally and trying to put her life back together," she said.
Morgan detailed how recruitment of children and teens into the sex trade happens both online and in public areas like malls.
Juveniles who are lured by traffickers are often desperate for money, family or love.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the average age for a female in the U.S. to be forced into sex trafficking is 12.
Just last week Matt Brown, 25, a former Temple University student was arrested in Baltimore on human trafficking charges after arranging for paid sex with three girls who were 14, 16 and 17 and the victims of sex trafficking.
"Rescue does not provide the closure to the ordeal of the casualty of trafficking that many would imagine or hope," said Cole.
According to The Carter Center, between 200 to 300 children are sold in Atlanta, Ga. every month.
"These young people have trauma on top of trauma, and so we're unpacking that little by little," said Dumas. "It is the only chance for victims of trafficking to have a chance at normalcy."