Last week, a couple out of Georgia were arrested on charges of human trafficking, holding a girl hostage at a local hotel.
Human trafficking is the term used to describe the act of holding another human being, more often than not that person is a child, against their will charging people to have sex with that person. There are websites where people can go online and purchase a child for an allotted amount of time so they can rape them.
Oxford resident Kathy Brummett is an advocate for victims of human trafficking, and is involved with four different organizations dedicated to ending the practice. She contributes to International Justice and A21, and in return uses their resources to educate people about human trafficking. She serves as an official ambassador Shared Hope International and Life for the Innocent. Her activism for the cause came later in life.
As she neared retirement, Brummett began thinking about what she wanted to do with her new free time. She said she wanted to do something that made her feel like she was contributing, like she was doing something meaningful. At that time, she was moved by a sermon at her church.
“I just began praying for God to break my heart for whatever breaks His,” Brummett Said. “I was looking for Him to show me what direction He wanted me to go during my retirement years. Up to that point, I could have told you everything I know about human trafficking in one sentence, and that sentence would’ve been ‘I know nothing about human trafficking.’ Then all of the sudden, it was everywhere I turned.”
Brummet said she began seeing things about human trafficking on news programs, television shows, in news papers and full length pieces in magazines on the subject. She couldn’t get away from it, and she was faced with the reality that she lived in a world where this happens, where children and adults are sold.
“My heart began to break for victims of human trafficking. I began to study it, get education about it and learn about the resources out there. I became involved in organizations about it. I was always talking about it as I became more involved, and I began getting invitations to speak at churches, clubs, organizations and clubs where I would train people on what human trafficking is, how it happens and how we can protect ourselves and our children.”
When the couple out of Georgia were arrested for human trafficking in Oxford last week, Brummett was actually at a summit with Life for the Innocent in Colorado. She said that she has heard whispers of trafficking happening in Oxford before, even of a grandparent who was selling their grandchild to pay off a debt, but never anything so direct as an arrest being made. But she knew it was happening here to at least some extent, because the reality is that it’s happening everywhere.
Human trafficking is the second biggest criminal trade in the world, second only to the manufacturing and selling of drugs, and even that gap is quickly closing. Putting it in business terms, it’s a $32 billion industry, and is rapidly growing. This is due largely to the practice’s sustainability.
If someone is selling drugs, they will need to constantly acquire more drugs. But if a criminal is using a human being, selling their body as if it were property – as many as 40 times a day, according to what Brummett has been exposed to through her work – that body can be used again and again and again. Buying another person to be rented out as sex object only increases the criminal’s revenue stream. People are not a stock that needs to be frequently replaced, so the abuse can endure for years.
However, it is not a hopeless battle, according to Brummett. Law enforcement agencies are now beginning to change up their tactics a bit by putting more resources into pursing the people attempting to purchase child prostitutes. By drastically diminishing the demand, the practice would in turn be diminished.
There are also things to look for that can tip you off that a person is being trafficked. Signs to look for include an adult appearing to have complete and total over a child. Not like a parent or guardian would supervise their child, but where something is noticeably off. Brummett said that if you think something is wrong, it probably is.
Is there an older man leading a teenage girl or perhaps a young boy through the airport in a way that makes you uncomfortable? Is the man holding all of the personal documents and luggage for the child and maintaining an overbearing presence? Kidnappers obviously aren’t advertising that the child your young adult in their care is not there, but Brummett says common sense with things like this is everything. People tend to know when something isn’t right.
If you think something doesn’t look right, if you feel it in your bones, Brummett said that calling the police or alerting a member of security immediately is the best course of action. Take down tag numbers. Get descriptions. There is a difference between paranoia and trusting your instincts.