Sex Trafficking Series Part 3: Bringing Perpetrators to Justice

Staff Writer

Sex trafficking is a global problem, including in Vermont. It is forced labor where the perpetrators create a situation where the victims are dependent on them and then force the victims into making money or obtaining drugs for the perpetrators.
Local, state and Federal law enforcement agencies are actively involved in finding perpetrators and bringing them to justice....
..Ordinarily, sex workers in human trafficking cases should not be concerned about facing prosecution for engaging in sex work, said Darrow. However, some sex traffickers try to control their victim workers by telling them they are breaking the law and can go to jail if they get caught.
"It's a way to try to keep them quiet," Darrow said. "I don't think anyone is being jailed for engaging in prostitution if a sex trafficker is coercing them to do so. They are for the most part perceived by law enforcement as victims, not perpetrators."
Human trafficking victims can come from any demographic, but according to Darrow, most are young women, sometimes even under age 18. There is also a substantial addiction community, and many addicts are young.
Numerous sex trafficking victims come from very challenging family backgrounds. In some cases, as children they were in multiple different state custody arrangements, and some were victims of sex abuse at an early age.
"They’ve got a lot of problems, and when they hit 18, they’re on their own,” Darrow said. “It’s an unfortunate fact, but there are a lot of young people out there like that. They don’t have much of an education, they have an incredibly challenging background, and they are trying to make their way in the world. When you add drug addiction to that, things can get volatile.”
Not becoming a heroin or crack-cocaine addict is one of the first lines of defense in not becoming a victim, Darrow said.
“You go down that road, and you become very vulnerable to pressures,” he added. “You have a physiological need for drugs every day. Drugs are expensive, and you need to come up with the money.”
Darrow’s advice to existing addicts is to get into a program to get clean. It also helps to finish school, get a job, and stay close to family, he said. According to Darrow, many sex trafficking victims did not finish high school, are estranged from their families, have no source of income and no job, and are out there with nothing but heroin addiction. However, Darrow stressed that not every sex trafficking victim is a drug addict. (Read the full story in the Newport Daily Weekend Edition)
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