Newsweek’s cover this week featured an in-depth story on sex trafficking in the United States.
The author, Max Kutner, reports that people run these operations from metropolitan areas, especially Queens, and then transport the women to areas of male-dominated industry, such as fracking and migrant farming, to sell themselves.
“These organisations that victimize these women … transport them to where the business is,” special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York James T. Hayes Jr. told Newsweek.
The piece focuses on one woman, known only as Janet. She grew up in Tenancingo, Mexico, largely considered the sex trafficking capital of the world. There, her boyfriend forced her into prostitution and then moved them to Queens.
About twice a month, a van takes Janet and other women, some as young as 12, to Charlotte, North Carolina, where they’re forced to have sex with complete strangers.
Traffickers choose Queens specifically because of its proximity to many other cities along the East Coast and a huge client base within New York City itself. Then, pimps take women to farms from Vermont all the way down to Florida, trapping them in a “city-to-farm sex pipeline,” as Kutner puts it. Since 2011, prosecutors have dealt with two separate cases of women from Queens being transported to Vermont farms for sex.
During the day, Janet and the other women go to migrant worker camps on farms in Charlotte. There, men paid $US30 to violently rape her, although rates range from $US25 to $US30. Then, at night, they’d go to work at brothels in Charlotte — but not before calling their pimps to report how much money they made on the farm.
“Your body is being sold,” Janet told Newsweek in Spanish through an interpreter. “It’s almost like your body is no longer yours.”
According to the State Department, 18,000 more women are trafficked into the US every year, making the country the second highest destination in the world.
Newsweek notes that experts can’t specifically say how many women are being trafficked in city-to-farm pipelines, though they know that the problem grows every year.
In any case, migrant workers provide the perfect clientele. Because many of them have undocumented status, “they are set up to be invisible,” Renan Salgado of the Worker Justice Center of New York told Newsweek.
They rarely leave their farms, making them bored, lonely, and dependent on middlemen for almost everything.
While the Mexican Consulate in New York City finally freed Janet from her nightmarish life, she spent 11 years enslaved.
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