Beauty From Ashes Videos


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Defining Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking & the Federal Law

With the ongoing exploitation of children & victims of commercialized sexual exploitation, I realized many people are not aware of the the laws, specifically the federal law regarding this topic. Sadly, according to the Lee County Human Trafficking Task Force (a meeting I recently was invited to present at) less than 2% of the country are aware of the slavery going on during this modern age. Education and awareness are important to understand so that we are all on the ‘same page’. However, awareness and education will not solve the problem; consistent pro-active legislation changes on state levels is a necessity. We can all talk about human trafficking until we are blue in the face, but unless we are willing to put resources in place to facilitate the reach, rescue & restoration process we are just talking. Funding for resources & programs is crucial to combat this modern day slavery.

Our recent experience with having the opportunity to be a restoration agent for a guest (who as a teenager was forced into prostitution) on the Tyra Bank’s show, even though we had no part of the show directly, and Tyra's Sept 14th program entitled, ‘Sixteen & Stripping”, it is even more necessary to address this topic.

If we are going to provide effective reach, rescue & restoration programs to victims of commercialized sexual exploitation, we need to know how the United States law defines it.

First of all, let’s look at Webster’s New World Law Dictionary definition of “
federal law”: A body of law at the highest or national level of a federal government, consisting of a constitution, enacted laws and the court decisions pertaining to them. The federal law of the United States consists of the United States Constitution, laws enacted by Congress, and decisions of the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

Next, we need to discuss the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)

Passed on October 8, 2000, the TVPA is the first the federal law specifically enacted to prevent victimization, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking. (TVPA, 22 USC 7010, et seq. Emphasis added.)

“The TVPA criminalizes human trafficking and defines the crime as 'severe form of trafficking in persons' as:

1. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age;
2. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor services, through the use of force, fraud, coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”

The sex trafficking of children occurs when minors (under the age of 18) are commercially sexually exploited. The commercial aspect of the sexual exploitation act is critical to separating the crime of trafficking from sexual assault, rape or molestation crimes against children. The term “commercial sex act” is defined in the TVPA as the giving or receiving of anything of value (money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes, etc.) to any person in exchange for a sex act. Importantly, the money or item of value provided for the sex act can be “given to or received by any person”. (TVPA, 22USC 7101 103(3). Emphasis added.)

Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) is the commercial sexual exploitation of American children with U.S. borders. The age of the victim is the critical issue - there is no requirement to prove force, fraud, or coercion was used to secure the victim’s actions.

Children can be commercially sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, and/or exotic entertainment.

In the absence of a trafficker/pimp selling the youth, the perpetrator paying for the sex act with food, a bed, or a ride can become the trafficker. Under federal law, trafficking, despite the connotation of the word, does not require proof of physical movement of the person. A person can be a victim of sex trafficking without ever leaving his/her home.

Of key importance to understanding domestic minor sex trafficking is the understanding that a child under 18 years of age is automatically considered a victim of “severe forms of trafficking” due to the age alone. No proof of force, fraud, or coercion in the case of sex trafficking of a minor is required. Trafficking is a crime of exploitation.” (2009 National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, pg. 4 & 5. Emphasis added).

According to Wikipedia, the term "exploitation" may carry two distinct meanings:

1. The act of using something for any purpose. In this case, exploit is a synonym for use. 2. The act of using something in an unjust or cruel manner. In political economy , economics , and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for the benefit of others. This corresponds to one ethical<> conception of exploitation, that is, the treatment of human beings as mere means to an end — or as mere "objects". In different terms, "exploitation" refers to the use of people as a resource, with little or no consideration of their well-being.

This can take the following basic forms:

▪ taking something off a person or group that rightfully belongs to them
▪ short-changing people in trade
▪ directly or indirectly forcing somebody to work ▪ using somebody against his will, or without his consent or knowledge
▪ imposing an arbitrary differential treatment of people to the advantage of some and the disadvantage of others (as in ascriptive discrimination)

Re-exploitation of victims of commercialized sexual exploitation & trafficking is one of the biggest problems this nation faces while trying to identify the problem & work to establish solutions, specialized services & programs.

Of utmost importance and a common theme among the handful of existing restorative programs is restoring dignity of the victim.

Merriam Webster’s definition of "
dignity”: “the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed” & “formal reserve or seriousness of manner, appearance, or language.”

“It is crucial to enable victims of domestic minor sex trafficking to see that they are worth much more than the social stigmas place on them would imply. Chronic abuse, manipulation, and social stigma intersect to perpetuate an internalized belief amongst domestically trafficked minors that they are “bad” and somehow deserve the exploitation they’ve experienced. “ (2009 National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, pg. 69. Emphasis added).

Domestic minor sex trafficking” is the term coined by Shared Hope International [researchers & writers of the 2009 National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking] to identify the commercial sexual exploitation of children under 18 years of age who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. The importance of the term “domestic minor sex trafficking” (DMST) is multi-dimensional. Language is a vital element to the human experience. It allows people to communicate a range of thoughts, emotions, and images in one single word; therefore, the labels placed on victims can have a profound impact on how society views the victims and how the victims view themselves. use of a term that accurately defines the nature of the crime and the victim status is critical to direct attention to the victim; rather than calling the crime “child prostitution”, the application of the term “domestic minor sex trafficking” refers to the real crime being committed in which a child is sexually exploited for an exchange of value and clarifies this child’s status as a victim of crime.

In using the term, “domestic minor sex trafficking victim” to describe America’s most vulnerable victims of sex trafficking, Shared Hope International has sought to remove these children from their perceived and often assigned delinquent status. Research has shown that these are complex victims who require specialized care; while they do not often act like traditional sex abuse victims . . . they are not “bad kids”. They are a complex victim group that requires specialized treatment, shelter, and understanding.” (2009 National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, pg. 6)

In conclusion, it is my hope that with education and awareness those who desire to help in the prevention, rescue and restoration process of these victims, as well as the adults (statistics indicate that 80-90% of adult sex workers were victims of DMST) will come together in an understanding of the federal law. There is a need for legislative changes within a few states regarding this topic, but there is also a desperate need for an established uniform system of recognition of what we are actually dealing with. We need to work together to stop re-exploiting these victims in order for their dignity to be restored, hence why we coined the term, ‘over-comer’.

As these victims move beyond the positioning of being a survivor of commercialized sexual exploitation into the revelation of who they are in Christ, they will take their position in society as over-comers and demonstrate that truth of God’s word. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

“Who is it that overcomes the world?
Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

1 John 5:5 NIV

“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
Revelation 3:21 NIV

FREEdom's calling, how will you respond?

In His passion to see victims become over-comers,
Pastor Julie Shematz

Co-Founder of Beauty From Ashes

Beauty From Ashes ~ Where Victims Become Over-Comers
A 501(c)3 public charity providing assistance to victims of commercialized sexual exploitation since 2005.
Birthed in the heart of a commercialized sexual exploitation & trafficking over-comer.

Tyra Bank's guest from 'Troubled Mom Tries to Change' does change & her dignity is finally restored. Video coming soon! Read her story of new hope, new life & new dreams

Are you a victim of commercialized sexual exploitation and want help? Contact us by calling our toll free help line 877. 4BFA HELP (877.423.2767) or email us.

Interested in us educating and training your church or organization how to effectively reach, rescue & restore victims of commercialized sexual exploitation? Contact us by calling 239.939.9218 or email us.

Need prayer? Email us.

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.3737.888

Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet

We need your financial support. It enables us to educate the community, advocate for the victims, implement reach, rescue & restore programs and provide safe homes. To make secure online tax deductible donations: CLICK HERE. Mail cash, money orders or checks made out to Beauty From Ashes Ministries to: 5100 S. Cleveland Ave., Ste. 318-148, Fort Myers, FL 33907 & THANK YOU.

Together we are better & are making a difference!

Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries

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