Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chicago Man Charged with Sex Trafficking of Minors

Photo from Vectorportal.com
A Chicago man pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of four female victims, two of whom are minors. Carl Brandon Smith now faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison after pleading guilty to transporting a minor from Wisconsin to Illinois for prostitution. This case is another sign of progress as law enforcement is identifying and prosecuting traffickers, as well as further evidence that traffickers bring victims to Chicago to meet the high demand for paid sex. 

Last year, we saw Alex Campbell sentenced to life in prison for trafficking women in a fake massage establishment in Mt. Prospect, a suburb of Chicago.  These cases prove that sexual slavery is happening internationally, nationally, as well as locally.  It is happening all around the United States, in our own cities. These victims subjugated in the commercial sex industry, being manipulated and exploited for little or no money, are not only being brought into the United States from other countries. Every single day, pimps like Smith are recruiting abused and vulnerable girls around the country sometimes by posing as their boyfriend (Smith admits to have done that), caretaker, or rescuer from an abusive or dysfunctional home only to later subject them to a life of sexual slavery and violence.

According to Trafficking in Persons Report 2011, thousands of underage victims in the United States are often “runaways, troubled, and homeless youth” who are lured, coerced through physical and sexual violence into the sex trade through pimps who traffic them across state borders. People who buy sex from these young people are the main source of this problem, and yet they are rarely held accountable for the harm they cause. 

These young women are regularly physically and sexually abused by their pimps / traffickers as well as customers as evident from Smith's statement who admits to have inflicted physical violence on his victims especially when one of them gave him “attitude” or when she indicated that she no longer wanted to work as a prostitute. On one occasion, Smith beat Victim A so severely that her eye swelled shut. The experiences of Campbell's and Smith's trafficking victims bring into light the nature of violence and coercion that persists in sex trade, and this motivates us to continue to encourage law enforcement to steer their resources toward pimps, johns, and traffickers.
It is important that we recognize the painful and degenerating experiences of these victims and provide them with much needed support and counseling instead of incarcerating them through the law enforcement authorities.

This post was written by CAASE volunteer Shobhana Johri Verma.

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