Virginia is 1 of 10 states that make the most calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline. A large percentage of these calls are made from Northern Virginia, with more than 500 known investigations.
WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
Human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, is defined as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to control someone to work without payment (labor trafficking) or engage in sexual activity (sex-trafficking) in exchange for anything of value (money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes, etc.).
What Does This Look Like in Northern Virginia?
In Northern Virginia, a common form of modern slavery is Teen Sex Trafficking (TST), which is the act of using force, fraud, or coercion on anyone under the age of 18 to engage in a sexual act in return for something of value. In a region abounding with busy parents and broken homes, traffickers prey on the lonely and vulnerable. Traffickers use staged encounters or social media to recruit their victims, then “groom” them to create a sense of family and belonging.
Many trafficked girls in Northern Virginia go to school every day. Their traffickers pick them up after school, take them for a few hours a day, and return them home in the evenings without anyone suspecting what is really happening.
In addition to TST, multiple forms of trafficking take place on a frequent basis in Northern Virginia. In-home brothels, recruitment via social media sites, and online transactions for sexual meet-ups happen here in NOVA as do labor and sex trafficking in spas and massage parlors. Labor trafficking also occurs in the form of domestic servitude, farm hands, and door-to-door solicitors, such as magazine sellers.
What are THE local Statistics?
In 2012, there were 465 calls from Virginia to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Eighty of these were tips of potential trafficking cases, 73 were crisis calls, and 77 were high- risk. Of the calls with the greatest likelihood of representing real trafficking cases, more than half were for victims in Northern Virginia.
(Data provided by Polaris.)
According to our partner, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force (NVHTTF), these are the trafficking statistics for our area from October 2013 through January 2015:
- 290 victims total identified (Minors: 47 Adult: 243)
- 202 leads
- 17 current cases (2 of which account for about 160 victims)
- 115 victims recovered
- 94 identified suspects (traffickers)
- From 2011-2013, nearly 400 victims of sex and labor trafficking were identified by law enforcement, social services, and other organizations in Virginia’s Eastern District region.
- The estimated average age of victims coerced into sex trafficking is between 12 - 14 years of age.
- Several gangs, such as MS-13 and the Underground Gangster Crips, have been prosecuted for sex-trafficking underage victims in Northern Virginia. NOVA has become one of the Top 10 teen trafficking areas in the Nation.
- Pimps are operating more frequently online. Popular websites like Facebook, Snapchat, Kik, Twitter and Instagram have become “virtual brothels” and prime recruiting tools.
Learn more by checking out these recommended resources:
Polaris: Myths and Misconceptions
Polaris: The Facts
Shared Hope, Demanding Justice: Laws protecting minors and statistics on johns (the buyers)
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: NetSmartz Internet Safety