Human trafficking – the dark side of life

Forum News Service has a seven part series on human trafficking in North Dakota dealing with multiple aspects of the prostitution issue. Shift in our cultural perceptions is focusing more on the issue of women getting sucked in and trapped by this destructive world.

The series is set in the Bakken oil field of North Dakota. The general issues apply all across the U.S. This is news because many sides of the downside of economic growth are visible in North Dakota. If the series were set in Los Angeles or New York area, this would be ancient, boring news.

In North Dakota we can easy watch as the reporters describe the devastation of prostitution. The scale of the issue is small enough and new enough in a relatively small state that the story can actually be covered in just seven parts.

One thing I’ve learned in the last few years of blogging is that certain names pop up regularly as authors of routinely superb writing. There is a short list of authors for whom I try to read everything they write. Ms. Dalrymple, who is also a very prolific writer, is one of those.

If you are deeply interested in either the Bakken or the trafficking issue, this is a series you will definitely want to read.

12/4 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – Trafficking in North Dakota is on the rise, and often the victims can’t escape – Seven part series on human trafficking in the state coauthored by Amy Dalrymple and Katherine Lymn.

First article in the series traces one man from looking on-line for an underage girl through his conviction and sentencing to a five-year prison sentence.

1/5 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – Girls, women trapped in the GameSecond in the series. Follows troubling story of Jenny through 20 years of prostitution to illustrate who gets trapped and how.

1/5 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – Native American populations ‘hugely at risk’ to sex trafficking – Article says meth and heroin are major issues on the Fort Berthold reservation.  The combined dysfunctions increase risks for Native Americans getting trapped into trafficking. Article says:

Statistics show that minorities represent a disproportionate amount of sex trafficking victims.

In North and South Dakota, minorities means Native Americans. Tragic.

Multiple groups are working to help victims in the state. New law on the book gives tribal authorities more tools to fight traffickers.

1/6 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – Training underway to help employees, the public detect signs of sex trafficking – Part 3. Training of law enforcement, hospitality, and medical staff is increasing awareness of trafficking victims.

It is difficult to identify a victim without knowing the subtle symptoms. Recurring comment in article is something like this:

“I think they come away [from a peculiar interaction] thinking something very weird is going on but ‘I don’t know what it is,’ ” Barrows said. “You can’t know what it is if you haven’t had the category for it created in your mind.”

1/7 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – Prosecuting prostitution – Part 4. Changing attitudes of law enforcement are leading police to see prostitutes as victims with the goal of developing friendships instead of arrests. Eventually that can lead to identifying pimps which can lead to prosecuting them.

1/7 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – North Dakota seeks to decriminalize prostitution for minors Part 5 – Proposed bill would end prosecution of minors caught in prostitution and increase penalties for trafficking. Some starting funding would be included for services to trafficking victims. Immunity for minors is called Safe Harbor. Such laws are in effect in South Dakota and Minnesota along with an unidentified number of other states.

1/8 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – Connecting in a click– The internet makes prostitution easier for prostitutes, pimps and johns. Article describes that also leaves digital footprints that make it easier to track, find, and prosecute pimps. Interesting debate on whether it makes sense to shut down whatever site is most popular at this moment for advertizing. Severe downside: the advertising will immediately go elsewhere. Upside: a site that cooperates with law enforcement makes prosecutions of trafficking easier.

1/9 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – Squaring up: Moving on from prostitution is riddled with challenges– Part 6 – Getting out, or ‘squaring up’, is difficult. In addition to the emotional and physical control, a prostitute has to escape poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, criminal record, lack of resume, lack of job skills. One has to overcome all those factors to successfully square up.

Several programs in North Dakota are working to help women escape. They are all maxed out in terms of capacity.

1/10 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune – North Dakota to consider new trafficking law, more funding for enforcement – Part 7 – Discussion on trafficking ins drawing attention during legislative session. State AG are requesting 25 new positions to deal with large-scale issues, especially trafficking. Safe Harbor, allowing immunity for minors, has good possibility of passing. No yet much indication of actual increase in funding for support and recovery programs, but that is on the table.

1/10 – Forum News Service in Bismarck Tribune, by Katherine Lymn – ‘Prostitution literally ate me from the inside out’– Story of Jenny, who successfully escaped prostitution. She has a valid driver’s license for the first time in 17 years, lives in an apartment leased in her name for the first time ever, and a legal job to pay her own bills. Escape and success is possible.

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