Many hold the belief that the Civil War and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution effectively ended slavery. While the conventional forms of plantation slavery no longer plague America, the idea that slavery as a whole has been eliminated is an ignorant view based around Ameri-centrism. One of the most brutal forms of slavery that exist in the world today is the sex trafficking of children. To make matters even worse, the police that we expect to work against this issue are complicit and sometimes even participate in the world of involuntary child prostitution.
According to the Polaris Project, there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. In addition to this, 1 out of 7 endangered runaway children is likely a victim of child sex trafficking. Rescuing people from this hellish experience is crucial. But on occasion, the savior is merely a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
A study on Hawaiian sex trafficking called “Sex Trafficking in Hawaii: The Stories of Survivors” found that members of the criminal justice system of Hawaii were little help when it came to fighting this particular crime. The study found that in nearly half of instances, they participated.
Reports showed that police officers would not take reports of sex trafficking seriously:
Many reported that law enforcement officers either were unable or unwilling to identify sex trafficking in their communities and often looked away. When family members reported their child as missing to law enforcement they were rarely taken seriously, and little follow up was reported to the families.
To make matters worse, police have been reported to offer drugs to young women. After a drug raid, an 18-year-old victim was told by an officer “if you
want pills, don’t mess with this little kid, you call me.”
Worst of all, police officers in Hawaii have participated in the sexual exploitation of victims. One victim said:
It is really easy to sell sex here and it is like they don’t care because cops date. I know because they had their gun, badge and hat with them and would say, ‘okay let’s go date’. The same people that are charging you for prostitution are the people turning around and buying it from you.
The study concluded with many implications to draw from the findings. One of the most stunning was:
Law enforcement officials throughout the criminal justice system have not been effective in addressing the crimes of sex trafficking and have been complicit in allowing and participating in sex trafficking.
Clearly, having a badge doesn’t just mean you enforce the law. It means you’re above it. Police officers are just as human as the rest of us. They are not angels. They are not perfect people. As Hannah Arendt found, even the most unsuspecting individuals are capable of great evil.
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