One part of the Holocaust memorial service, at least here in Houston, is the testimony of Nazi descendants telling the story of what their parents or grandparents did, expressing their repentance, and seeking forgiveness from Holocaust survivors and their descendants. It is a very powerful moment. It is also one that gets some people a little agitated. The concept of identificational repentance really bothers some Christians who think that since we’re saved by grace that we don’t have to deal with any other baggage.
Not only is the testimony of the Germans one of forgiveness, but their story is also one of how exposing and repenting of those actions not only set them free personally, but it has transformed their city. (Here is an article on the power of identificational repentance.)
So what does this have to do with this book? Our hands aren’t clean. One of the horrors of the Holocaust was not just what the Nazi officials did, but the fact that so few people stood up and said anything. Not only did they not do anything, but they closed their eyes and ignored what was going on. They would sit in their churches and sing louder when the trains would roll by so they wouldn’t have to hear the cries of those being taken to the death camps.
Here in the United States, Texas is considered a major destination for victims of human trafficking. According to statistics, in 2008, 38 percent of all calls to the National Trafficking Resource Center hot line were dialed in Texas. Between 2001 and 2006, the total number of persons prosecuted for human trafficking in the United States tripled. In the same period, the number of persons prosecuted for sex slavery increased four times.
That is what is going on today in Houston.
At the 2006 Department of Justice National Conference on Human Trafficing, the interstate I-10 corridor was identified as one of the main routes for human traffickers. Two cities along the I-10 corridor figure prominently as centers identified with a particularly high level of human trafficking: El Paso and Houston.
If you ask someone to explain what human and sex trafficking is, the odds are that they would describe it as either something happening in another country or rare cases of citizens of foreign countries being brought into the U.S. However, that is not the case. While the exploitation of individuals in what is essentially slave labor does primarily happen in the U.S. with illegal aliens, sex trafficking is just as likely to happen to girls and women born and raised in the U.S. And just as in Nazi Germany where the labor camps, death camps, and brothels with forced sex slaves were in every town in the country, sex trafficking is everywhere.
A perception exists that only foreign nationals are victims of human trafficking in the United States. Arrest and prosecution records show that to be false; significant incidents of domestic human trafficking occur within Texas in addition to movement of victims through Texas to other states.
Just this week, the FBI executed one of the largest raids on sex trafficking rescuing over 100 children. Over 260 agencies were involved nationwide, it doesn’t just happen in the big cities.
The FBI launched a 72-hour nationwide operation targeting pimps who prey on children — an undercover mission that rescued 105 teens ranging mostly in age from 13 to 17 years old, with the youngest victim being 9 years old, authorities said Monday.
The Reality of Sex Trafficking
The movie, Pretty Woman, may have launched Julia Robert’s career, but I think it created a glamorized and distorted view of prostitution. It’s not that bad for the prostitute, they enjoy it. The johns aren’t really sleazebags, they mean well.
The first 20 or so times were the hardest. Then you sort of get used to it and you don’t think as much about it. – Former child sex trafficking victim from Kansas City, Missouri
The predators, the pimps, prey on girls who have broken relationships with their families. Girls without a father at home, or who have one that is abusive, are particularly vulnerable. They set themselves up as the “knight in shining armor,” the one that will take care of them and position themselves as the main influence in their lives.
They encourage division and try to separate the girl from her family. Once the girl is separated from her support system, the abuse, manipulation, and pressure into prostitution begin. They don’t start out because they say to themselves one day, “Hey I want to be a whore.” Often they think they are “helping” the one person who “loves” them.
“I met this guy and he said he was going to take care of me.” – Former child sex trafficking victim from Atlanta, Georgia
Then begins the downward spiral of abuse, shame, and drugs which leaves them feeling so damaged that they feel like they can never fit into normal society again. There are a completely different set of rules in that world, one that they have to learn in order to survive. Transitioning out of that can be a long and difficult process.
In Renting Lacy, Star, one of Bobby’s new girls, is rescued by her grandmother who attempts to bring her back home. Star feels so disconnected from her grandmother and the world she grew up in, that she runs away and rejoins her pimp.
That is another similarity I saw between victims of sex trafficking and those who survived the Holocaust, the abuse that they suffered distorted not only their view on the world making the unable to trust others, but also their view of God. Reading the story of the lives of those who have experienced sexual abuse, anger at God for allowing it to happen is a very common theme. The founder of Heaven’s Army of Resources expresses this in the recounting of her experiences and her journey to God. Many of the Holocaust survivors I have heard and have spoken to have said the same thing. They really don’t want to have anything to do with him. The destruction is on multiple levels.
Making a Change
The attitude of “it’s not my problem” is exactly the one that allows sex trafficking to continue and grow. It both ignores the victims and gives the perpetrators a pass.
Mary Lee Hafley, who has worked extensively with victims of human trafficking, said that identifying victims is the greatest obstacle to combating trafficking because victims are so isolated “[Victims] are most often found through law enforcement tities and brought to shelters like SafeHaven. Otherwise [victims] do not connect to services because they are so completely isolated. Traffickers threaten them, so that the victims believe the fear of what would happen if they leave is greater than the fear of what happens if they stay.”
The perpetrators are not only the pimps, but also the johns that purchase the services. Joking around or dismissing their actions encourages it.
On Monday, a bill was introduced to Congress that would punish those who buy sex rather than punishing victims.
WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) along with Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Kay Granger (R-TX) and Rick Nolan (D-MN) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral End Sex Trafficking Act of 2013. This bill will help eliminate human trafficking rings by targeting the criminals who purchase sexual acts from these organizations and ensuring that they are prosecuted as human traffickers.
The laws need to focus on punching the perpetrators, but the other part is that we as individuals need to care about and be invested in our community. The reason so many girls stay trapped is because they are so isolated. People don’t pay attention and oftentimes don’t even care.
The world’s motto may be “mind your own business,” but as Christians, that isn’t supposed to be ours.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. ~ James 1:27 NLT
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. ~ 1 John 4:20 ESV
Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve. ~ Proverbs 24:12 NLT
- FBI Human Trafficking Initiative (( Civil Rights and Human Trafficking. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Accessed 29 July 2013. ))
- FBI Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
- List of Local FBI Offices
- Submit information on human trafficking online.
- FBI Office for Victim Assistance
- Innocence Lost: FBI initiative to stop child prostitution
- FBI Child Trafficking Hotline: 1-800-225-5324
- Federal Resources on Missing and Exploited Children [PDF]
- Department of Justice Anti-Trafficking Initiatives
Nonprofits and Initiatives
- Children at Risk: Public advocacy Website Facebook Twitter
- Heaven’s Army of Resources: Outreach to brothels and training in North Houston. Website Facebook Twitter
- Free the Captives: Outreach to child victims in Houston Website Facebook
News on Human Trafficking
The Justice department publishes news releases of indictments and convictions related to human trafficking in their press room. There are new stories almost daily.
- July 7, 2022: Tucson Man Sentenced to 48 Months as Coordinator for Human Smuggling Organization
- July 5, 2022: Albuquerque men sentenced to prison for sex trafficking
- July 1, 2022: Three Found Guilty in Human Smuggling Operation
- June 30, 2022: Massachusetts Woman Sentenced for Role in Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
- June 27, 2022: Charlotte Man Is Sentenced To More Than 12 Years In Prison For Sex Trafficking Of A Minor
- June 27, 2022: South Carolina man sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking and drug crimes in Montana
- June 24, 2022: Jury Convicts Seven MS-13 Members and Associates of Sex Trafficking a Minor
- June 21, 2022: Man admits to enticing South Texas minor into commercial sex
- June 17, 2022: Man Sentenced to 30+ Years for Sex Trafficking 14-Year-Old, Adult out of Dallas Hotel
- June 17, 2022: Alabama Defendant Convicted of Sex Trafficking and Offenses Tied to a Scheme to Compel Victims, Including a Minor, to Engage in Prostitution
- June 15, 2022: North Carolina Nail Salon Owner Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Compelling a Victim’s Labor for Almost Two Years
- April 12, 2022: Nine Members and Associates of Nationwide Sex Trafficking and Prostitution Enterprise Indicted on Racketeering and Related Charges
- Decmber 15, 2021: 3 more individuals charged with sex trafficking young runaway girls in Houston-area human trafficking conspiracy
- November 21, 2021: Human smuggling, forced labor among allegations in south Georgia federal indictment
- October 23, 2020: Portsmouth lawyer Michael Mearan arrested on human trafficking charges
- October 23, 2020: Undercover Troup Co. sex trafficking sting leads to 11 arrests
- October 23, 2020: Prostitution Sting Leads To 24 Arrests Of ‘Johns’: Lake Elsinore
- October 22, 2020: Grand jury returns 10-count indictment on Findlay priest accused of sex trafficking
- October 22, 2020: Phoenix-area man accused in sex trafficking of 16- and 17-year-old girls
- October 22, 2020: ‘Forced to work in the sex trade:’ Human trafficking investigation in Pickering results in arrest of one man
- October 22, 2020: Long Beach police rescue 13-year-old girl, arrest man on suspicion of human trafficking
- October 10, 2020: UNR football player arrested in FBI sex trafficking sting
- October 9, 2020: 28 people arrested in weeklong human trafficking sting by FBI in south Reno
- October 8: 2020: ICE Arrests 46 in Sex Trafficking Sting (Houston)
- October 7, 2020: Officials give update after 46 arrests, 5 rescues in Fort Bend County during ‘massive’ human trafficking sting
- October 3, 2020: Pimping arrest stems from human trafficking operation in Thousand Oaks
- October 5, 2020: Vice Task Force Makes Human Trafficking Arrest in Bossier Parish
- October 2, 2020: 3 Arrested on Sex Trafficking Charges For Running Brothels Out of 2 Framingham Residences
- October 2, 2020: 15 arrested in human trafficking operation in Fultondale
- October 3, 2020: Five human trafficking victims rescued, 46 arrests made in massive Houston-wide sting operation
- September 24, 2020: 15 people arrested in human trafficking sting in Merced
- September 23, 2020: Georgia prostitution bust: Human trafficking victims rescued, 18 arrested
- August 27, 2020: U.S. Marshals Service, Georgia authorities operation leads to rescue of 39 children
- March 28, 2020: Human Trafficking in Our BackYard: Where it’s happening, why, and how
- February 6, 2020: 19 arrested in undercover human trafficking investigation, North Carolina sheriff says
- February 5, 2020: 3 men from Wisconsin among 14 arrested in human trafficking operation in Illinois
- February 2, 2020: Cracking The $150 Billion Business Of Human Trafficking
- January 31, 2020: A sex trafficking survivor from Katy visited the White House. Here’s her story.
- January 24, 2020: European police bust human trafficking ring worth $77M, accused of smuggling 10,000 migrants
- January 10, 2020: Oregon at the Epicenter of Human Trafficking Epidemic; Local Organizations Word to Find Solutions.
- January 9, 2020: Report Finds Nearly 750 Human Trafficking Victims in Oregon Over One Year Period
- November 18 2019: More than 100 people arrested in Florida human trafficking sting
- November 18, 2019: Human trafficking, prostitution sting near The Woodlands nets 75 arrests
- October 1, 2019: 79 arrested in human-trafficking, prostitution sting in Kingwood area
- August 7, 2019: More than 100 sex trafficking victims rescued across US amid busts, FBI says
- May 6, 2019: Undercover Katy human-trafficking sting yields 47 arrests in 10 days
- April 21, 2017: FBI Arrests 150 in Sex-Trafficking Sting
The High Cost of Lies
Update 2020: This was the second book review that I published after starting this site in 2013. It would be nice to think that awareness has grown during that time about what human trafficking actually looks like. Instead, the U.S. seems to be under a mass delusion fueled by the ridiculousness of Qanon and has taken a very real problem with very real victims and very real circumstances and turned it into a conspiracy theory.
If this conspiracy theory just stayed isolated in dark corners of the internet, that would be one thing. But just like Hitler’s drunk anti-semitic ramblings didn’t stay in a beer hall, these libelous claims have stolen resources that could be helping real victims. If you have been doing this, you are part of the problem.
September 2020: A statement made by a human trafficking investigator about Qanon
“Hey you wanna know something really cool?
I worked a sex trafficking case two weeks ago, and sat on hold for a total of 35 minutes trying to get a hold of someone with the Human Trafficking Hotline. I made an online tip about the trafficking case after I built enough rapport with the victim to tell me her story. Her traffickers didn’t allow her to have a phone so the only way we could talk is if she walked to the ER from where she was being kept.
Two. Weeks. Later. The Trafficking Hotline finally reaches back out to me to safety plan and help with this victim, who I have since lost touch with. You wanna know why they were delayed?
They’re still working through the Wayfair cases after every conspiracy theorist QAnon asshole made a tip online to the Human Trafficking Hotline.
The inability to critically think about something and take a step back to weigh the plausibility of a conspiracy theory has cost my client and many others a shot at freedom and justice. Let that sink in the next time you decide you want to participate in unfounded mob justice.”
July 13, 2020: Fact check: “No evidence linking Wayfair to human trafficking operation” – Reuters
Many instances of the post made the claim that the names of the cabinets coincided with the name of children that had gone missing.
One social media post, for example, suggested that an apparent news report about a missing teenager named Samiyah Mumin was linked to a cabinet named “Samiyah”, with a listed price of $12,899.99 ( here ).
On Facebook, Mumin herself denounced the conspiracy theories for taking attention away from children who are actually missing. “Y’all know how many people is actually missing? Y’all know how many people’s families are out there looking for them?” ( here ) Mumin says in her video she never went missing to begin with.
 Croucher, Rowland. “Identificational Repentance – Repenting for the Sins of Our Ancestors.” John Mark Ministries. 11 December 20013. Accessed 29 July 2013.
 Greig, Dr. Gary S. “The Biblical Foundations of Identificational Repentace as One Prayer Pattern Useful to Advance God’s Kingdom and Evangelism.” Kingdom Training Network. The King’s Seminary. April 2001. Accessed 29 July 2013.
 “Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery.” Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. August 2011. pg 3. Accessed 29 July 2013.
 Lichtblau, Eric. The Holocaust just got more shocking. The New York Times. 3 March 2013. Accessed 29 July 2013.
 “Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery.” Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. August 2011. pg 5. Accessed 29 July 2013.
 “FBI rescues more than 100 children, arrests 150 pimps in sex-trafficking raid.” Fox News. 29 July 2013. Accessed 29 July 2013.
 Smith, Linda and Cindy Coloma. Renting Lacy. 2009. p 4.
 Ibid., p 55.
 Purvis, Lenora. “My Story.” Heaven’s Army of Resources. Accessed 29, July 2013.
 “Human Trafficking in Texas: More Resources and Resolve Needed to Stem Surge of Modern Day Slavery.” Texas Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. August 2011. pg 10. Accessed 29 July 2013.
 “Bipartisan and Bicameral Coalition Introduces Legislation to End Sex Trafficking Demand.” Ted Poe, U.S. Congressman 2nd District of Texas. 24 July 2013. Accessed 29 July 2013.