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HomeIllinois NewsThorner/O'Neil: Human Trafficking as Second Largest Crime Industry in the World

Thorner/O’Neil: Human Trafficking as Second Largest Crime Industry in the World




By Nancy Thorner & Bonnie O'Neil - 

Most Americans value morality and detest those who engage in crime or immoral actions such as prostitution.  We understand prostitution to be one of the oldest “professions” known and that it exists today, but it is also a subject most of us choose to ignore.  Movies have portrayed prostitution quite differently, such as the 1990 popular movie “Pretty Woman”, starring Julia Roberts, which was entertaining but could not be further from the realities of prostitution.  The film “Taken” with Liam Neeson  shocked many viewers by providing a far darker reality of the industry in which vulnerable young girls were captured, drugged, and forced into prostitution.  That movie was far closer to reality.

Most of us preferred “Pretty Woman” because we all love happy endings.  We tend to avoid thinking about specific unpleasant matters that we know are likely happening but are unlikely to ever involve us.  However, if a vast majority of the American people do not even want to think about these sordid matters, how can they possibly be changed?   For example, most Americans believe prostitutes choose their profession.  Facts show that many are forced into it, with few options for escape.

Facts about Human Trafficking

Human trafficking exists today in most every city in the World, and most likely it is happening right now in your town or city.  If we ignore this unpleasant subject, there will be new victims and ruined lives every year.  Instead, by exposing facts and understanding that there are men who prey on young girls and women, for the explicit purpose to force them into this life of pure hell, and thus making forced prostitution far from rare.  It is not a subject most of us want to know or acknowledge, because it is detestable; however, remaining ignorant of the facts allows this crime to continue.

What the public may not know is the many prostitutes did not choose this profession.  They were fooled and/or forced into it. Many began as run-aways who were having family problems. They are the easiest prey for predators who  patrol bus depots looking for young, bewildered girls. Traffickers, pretending to be helpful, gain the girls trust.  Others are addicted to drugs and even easier prey for men who pretend to just want to help friend help.  Another tool of abusers is to use Facebook as a way to seek young, needy girls by developing on-line friendships for the sole purpose of luring them away from home.   

Every day, vulnerable young girls are being fooled and ultimately captured by sex traffickers and their lives become a living hell. Many if not most prostitutes have “handlers” that often force them to take drugs and thus keep them controlled through the promise of a daily “fix.”  Statistics indicate the following tragic results of this horrendous waste of life:

  • 71% of trafficked women reported at least one pregnancy while being trafficked.
  • 21%, 1 in 5,  girls reported having 5 or more pregnancies.
  • 55% reported at least one abortion
  • 30% reported multiple abortions.
  • Among the 66 women who responded to abortion questions, 114 abortions were reportedly performed on them during their trafficked state. These girls are forced to have abortions by their traffickers who know Planned Parenthood is not known for asking specific questions that might help the young women escape. They are brought in by their “handler” who claims to be her boyfriend. The pregnant girls are too terrified of their “handlers” to deny it or ask for help. Mexican cartels are known to traffic women into the United States where there are many customers.  This is one reason children are separated from parents at our borders and checked to be sure children are with their legal parent(s), rather than frightened young girls being trafficked.  

In the past, the policy of most city officials was to incarcerate known prostitutes. Thus, even those forced into trafficking were punished for the crime of prostitution and in most cases for drug abuse. However, groups have organized to identify and help these victims, by providing new facts to law enforcement agencies, including border agents who are being tasked with checking for such victims.

There are organizations like “Rescue Foundation” and non-profits like “Justice Run” whose purpose is to inform and educate the public and public officials regarding the above facts and especially that women who may appear to be prostitutes are instead victims in need of being rescued. These organizations, which are world-wide, help educate the public and call attention to this horrific crime.  

While American cities have become centers of forced prostitution, they are far from being the most impacted by this abominable crime.  Forced prostitution is being committed in every part of the World, in every large city, and even in small hometowns, yet it remains mostly a “dirty secret” because few want to know about it, let alone discuss it.   Is this happening in your community?  Chances are that it is, but it would be helpful if everyone asked their local police department, as well as their federal representatives, how they have or are dealing with the problem.  Every town, city, and state should have laws and procedures in place to identify and prevent human trafficking.  It would be helpful if our federal government officials would tighten laws for abortion clinics, forcing them to be more engaged in determining if a woman might be a victim of trafficking.  

Human Trafficking in Illinois

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state, including Illinois.

Learn more through browsing Illinois/National Human Trafficking Hotline about human trafficking in Illinois as well as other states.

Human trafficking is one of the most under reported crimes. It is also the second largest crime industry in the world.  Illinois ranks among tops for human trafficking cases.  Human trafficking is a $9.5 billion business. This knowledge is especially important since Chicago is the fifth largest location for human trafficking in the US.

Chicago suburbs are not immune to human trafficking.  In a presentation that had to do about trafficking in DuPage in October of  2016, one of the presenters was Margaret Wolski of New Name Ministries, a national non-profit organization that aids victims of human trafficking.  Said Wolski:

“Every year, 15,000 to 24,000 people in Chicagoland become victims of human trafficking. "Of these, 35-40 percent are under age 18. Most are trafficked for sex or pornography. The average age of entry into this form of slavery is 12-14.”

Public's role in stopping human trafficking

As a society, we must help the women who have been forced into prostitution and do our best to stop human trafficking.  How?  We can ask media sources to expose this dirty secret and make the public more aware and for enforcement agencies to be more aggressive in discerning and helping women who are being forced into this horrendous way of life.  This must not remain a  “secret” crime, because exposing facts  may help persuade some young women from making this horrendous, life-changing mistake.

We all think it would never happen to our daughter, granddaughter, neighbor, or friend, but the fact is … it absolutely could.  The teenage years can be difficult for both the teen and parents.  It is a strange time in which unusual problems occur within many families, often totally unexpected, and thus most parents are caught off-guard and unprepared to handle it in the most constructive way.  It is wise to be forewarned and prepared, because awareness is a tool to help prevent a potential problem which could end in a virtual tragedy.  


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  1. Thorner’s excellent article hightlights the need for greater awareness. Sadly Prostitution is undoubtedly one of the oldest professions. However, open border unleashes a flood of increased activity in the traficking of young and innocent children, as well as the debilitating blight of more drugs. Parents must be extremely vigilant to guard against outside dangers from predators.

  2. If the liberals would go away, we could put the human traffickers to death for their crimes against humanity. That might not stop human trafficking, but it would make a big difference.
    Its unconscionable to know human trafficking goes on in america during the 21st century
    Public hangings need to part of the justice system again. So the traffickers will know what awaits them when they are caught. Human trafficking is a heinous crime and the death penalty is the only punishment that fits the crime