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'Child sex trafficking rampant in US'
Tue, 26 Apr 2011 15:10:24 GMT
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An FBI bulletin shows that 100,000 to 300,000 American children are at the risk of becoming victims of sex traffickers which is turning into a "problem of epidemic proportion."

"When we are talking about something that's become an 'epidemic' by the FBI, we need a culture shift," Andrea Powell, who works directly with children who have been sold for sex, told a Press TV correspondent in Washington.

Powell says most of the child victims she works with come from poor neighborhoods and broken families.

The average age a child gets involved into the sex trafficking industry in the US is between 12 and 14 years old, she adds.

Gangs are switching from selling drugs to selling sex to support their enterprises.

Young girls fall for men who promise to take care of them but end up in forced prostitution.

The children often are forced to travel far from home and their lives revolve around "violence, forced drug use and constant threats."

In recent years, bringing offenders to justice has become more difficult as traffickers use the internet to locate their victims, meaning that many of the girls and young women are no longer on the street where law enforcement officials can see them.

Sex trafficking is so widespread (in the US) that "no country, no race, no religion, no class and no child is immune," says the founder of the Project Meridian Foundation in Arlington, Nathan Wilson.

The US is the number one destination for trafficked victims.

Wilson says 1.6 million children below the age of 18 -- native and foreign-born -- have been caught up in the US sex trade.

Out of 69 girls rescued nationwide last year, 23 were found in the Puget Sound area in Washington State.

As common as human trafficking may be, there has been only one conviction in the state since the practice was outlawed in 2003.

Human Trafficking generates approximately USD 9.5 billion each year. It is second only to drug trafficking in international crime.

MD/AKM/MGH
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