AWARE

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pre­fer chil­dren.”

Hu­man traf­fick­ing af­fects all com­mu­ni­ties re­gard­less of in­come or ed­u­ca­tional lev­els as well as peo­ple of all ages from males and fe­males to trans­gen­ders and trans­sex­u­als. Re­cruit­ing — which can be done by women, teens and chil­dren — can oc­cur at any lo­ca­tion in­clud­ing the in­ter­net, schools, shop­ping malls, parks, swim­ming pools, ho­tels, movie the­aters, amuse­ment parks, etc., the book­let noted.

Lyles said the vic­tims, re­gard­less of where they live or with whom they live with, are be­ing traf­ficked by peers and/or their own fam­ily mem­bers right in the county. Risk fac­tors in­clude age, a his­tory of run­ning away or home­less­ness, sex­ual abuse, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, mem­ber of the LGBTQ (Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, Trans­gen­der and Queer) com­mu­nity, un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, in­volve­ment in child wel­fare or ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tems, sub­stance abuse, friend or fam­ily in­volve­ment in the com­mer­cial sex in­dus­try, gang or crew in­volve­ment and glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of pimp cul­ture, ac­cord­ing to Lyles.

“Peo­ple who are traf­fick­ing chil­dren know what to say to chil­dren … in or­der to lure them away from a bad home sit­u­a­tion or maybe a good home sit­u­a­tion on a bad day,” he said. “In Prince George’s County, we have some truck stops, we have some broth­els, res­i­den­tial homes and apart­ments [where com­mer­cial sex is go­ing on], but not too much on the street.”

The dif­fer­ent types of com­mer­cial sex­ual ex­ploita­tion in­clude pros­ti­tu­tion, mas­sage par­lors, the in­ter­net, ho­tels and mo­tels, spas and strip clubs.

Lyles said ho­tels and mo­tels are the biggest sources of hu­man traf­fick­ing cases in the county.

“The county passed two laws last year,” said Lyles. “One, to limit the hourly or to make it il­le­gal for ho­tels to have hourly rates and sec­ond, to man­date that ho­tels have a train­ing for their staff on is­sues sur­round­ing hu­man traf­fick­ing and the red flags.”

When it comes to pimp con­trol, re­cruiters iden­tify vic­tims’ vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, needs and dreams. Trust is built on a false sense of care and love. The pimp iso­lates and ma­nip­u­lates the vic­tim as he or she be­gins to ful­fill their needs. Vic­tims are the in­tro­duced to “the game” as they learn the rules, lan­guage and con­se­quences, ac­cord­ing to Lyles.

Lyles said com­mon ter­mi­nol­ogy used in the pimp cul­ture in­clude phrases like “the life/the game,” “daddy/pimp,” “John/ date/trick,” “bot­tom girl,” “stroll/ blade/strip”, “quota,” “out of pocket,” “wifey/wife-in-law,” “square” and “rene­gade.”

“Mostly what you see in the vic­tim-ness of this is­sue is the per­son be­ing vic­tim­ized. You never see the traf­ficker. You never re­ally see the ‘Johns’ un­less there’s a sting,” Lyles said. “Get­ting the traf­fick­ers ar­rested is dif­fi­cult. Many times the vic­tims don’t want to tes­tify and even if they don’t tes­tify, I would say the av­er­age sen­tence of a traf­ficker right now in Mary­land is prob­a­bly no jail time at all and a fine. … If we’re in the realm of chil­dren, of course we all see that as a dan­ger­ous thing. But I would sub­mit to you that traf­fick­ing any­body is a dan­ger­ous crime.”

Lyles said hu­man traf­fick­ing is not only a hu­man rights is­sue, but a civil rights is­sue as well.

“It’s slav­ery, ba­si­cally,” he said. “Be­cause the in­di­vid­u­als who are be­ing traf­ficked don’t have free­dom to come and go and they don’t have the free­dom to even make their own money. In the la­bor traf­fick­ing sit­u­a­tion, they are in­deed slaves. They’ve been forced to stay on a job site and not get paid which is the def­i­ni­tion of slav­ery and bondage. Be­tween that and sex traf­fick­ing … it’s one of the ones that has a more hor­ri­ble ef­fect on peo­ple.”

“I think the biggest thing is that it’s in our neigh­bor­hoods. It’s ev­ery­place,” said Marville Wil­son of Lan­ham, pres­i­dent of United Union Methodist Women. “We need to re­ally ed­u­cate our chil­dren. Every­body that ap­pears to be your friend is not your friend. … We need more peo­ple like Mr. Lyles go­ing out to make peo­ple be aware. In our meet­ing in Septem­ber, we’re go­ing to have to dis­cuss this and see what our next move will be so we can head in the right di­rec­tion.”

To learn more about how to help or re­port some­thing sus­pi­cious, dial 311 in Prince George’s County or call the Hu­man Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion at 301-883-6170.

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