BOSTON (WHDH) -
On just one station, a former pimp talks about his victims and the sex trade. “There’s gonna be monsters like me. They’ve been there since the beginning of time.” He doesn’t want to share his name, but he will share his story.
He’s a former pimp. A sex trafficker who spent nearly a dozen years convincing young women in Massachusetts to sell their bodies and give him the money. He tells us it started with his first girlfriend.
“I remember the first time. When she brought me the money she was disgusted. But with all her hate and disgust for herself, she just went and did it again.” And how, exactly, did he convince a young woman to prostitute herself for him?
“Persuasion,” he says. “It was like ‘I know when you walk into a room you feel that nobody notices you, but that’s what makes you the most beautiful person in the room.'”
He says he would find his victims at tanning salons, gyms, bars, and nightclubs, and was always on the lookout for girls who seemed to have low self-esteem. “You dress them up. I might have to spend $5000 on breast implants, which is worth it to me. You make them feel rich. Alive. Who doesn’t want to feel pretty?”
Experts say human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, hundreds of victims in Massachusetts call its hotline every year, desperate for help.
So who are these women?
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the neighborhood girl with great parents or if it’s the girl who don’t have parents and is raising herself. It really doesn’t matter,” he says. He claims that at one point he had 16 girls working for him. He’d drop them off at a hotel, sometimes for the entire day, and they’d turn trick after trick.
Once they were in the lifestyle, he admits he used shame to keep them there. “They have to 100 percent rely on what I give them. Nobody could ever love them, and there will never be a man in the world who would marry somebody who used to sell their body.”
After years as a sex trafficker, he had a daughter and everything changed. He says he got sober and left this life of crime behind ten years ago. Now, years later as he thinks about what he did, he says his belief in God is the only thing that prevented him from killing himself.
Parents, he says, hold the key to protecting young girls from men like him. “Fathers have to spend time with their daughters,” he says, quietly sobbing. “They have to show their daughters that I’m the man you want to find in life. I’m the man you want to marry.”
(Copyright (c) 2016 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Calling for an end to "human trafficking and other forms of human slavery," British Cardinal Vincent Nichols presented a stunning testimony against the "resurgence of slavery" where up to 21 million people are affected by the scourge. As archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Nichols has led the fight against global human trafficking, which given recent chaos around the world, is actually now on the rise.
While there's no precise legal definition of the contemporary crime, modern slavery and trafficking generally refer to people who are held against their will, isolated, and regularly exploited with negligible compensation. While trafficking largely refers to people forced into sexual slavery, the definition also extends to some unpaid and exploited farm labor as well as some fishing fleet crews. Organized crime plays a strong but not exclusive role in the exploitation. There is equally a nexus with international terrorist groups, according to officials.
Sponsored by the Holy See Mission to the U.N. as well as the Santa Marta Group which is an alliance of international police chiefs and bishops from around the world, the conference focused on battling human trafficking and modern day slavery. The Santa Marta group grew from a partnership between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the London Metropolitan Police.
The group has strong endorsement and commitment from Pope Francis who in a message to the conference, has described human trafficking as "a scourge throughout the world today."
Significantly many of the victims fear going directly to the police, but will nonetheless go to church parishes to seek help. According to Cardinal Nichols, many are "locked away" and are utterly isolated and cut off. He stated that a key element became pastoral care and building trust using the resources of the church as well as coordination with law enforcement.
Cardinal Nichols stressed that human trafficking reduces victims to "the status of a commodity" and its victims are a source of shame for humanity. He called for "effective international cooperation" to fight the growing threat.
Kevin Hyland, Britain's Anti-Slavery Commissioner, advised that "the anti-slavery movement has so far failed," with trafficking now profiting its perpetrators by as much as US$150 billion, which comes on the back of "the untold suffering of millions globally." Commissioner Hyland focused on how terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS) and Nigeria's Boko Haram have profited from human slavery as both a tool of intimidation as well a profit maker.
Boko Haram Islamic militants regularly kidnap girls and present them with the grim choice of either enforced marriage or being sold into slavery. Similar crimes are perpetrated by IS who capture Yazadi girls and sell them into slavery.
Boko Haram is a Sunni Muslim group active in Nigeria that is most notorious for the mass kidnap of 276 girls from Chibok in 2014. The abducted children, 219 of whom are still in captivity, are yet to be found. Recently Islamic militants released a video showing some of the kidnapped girls.
Besides Boko Haram terrorists, other criminal gangs in Nigeria abduct girls primarily from the south and send them on to Europe, often for prostitution.
According to Hyland, the issue goes beyond sexual slavery to also sometimes include farm labor which is used and abused against the will of the workers. Dealing with cases of forced labor, and human trafficking, Hyland stressed, "there's no town in the United Kingdom where slave labor is not used."
Actress Mira Sorvino, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, made a passionate appeal for combating human trafficking. Nonetheless the real issue remains that modern slavery has a very wide, elastic, and broad brush definition. While Sorvino concedes, "there is no legal definition of human trafficking," she points to the need for an inclusive definition. This may make sense morally and politically, but can then fall short on the prosecution side failing a precise legal definition.
Given a chaotic global situation and massive refugee migration recently, the conditions favoring abduction and oppression are on the rise. Without question, the massive 21 million people enduring modern slavery is all the more stunning, given that we live in 2016.
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues He is the author of "Divided Dynamism — The Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China."