Articles on Modern Day Enslavement - Zola M Dube

Archive for the ‘Current News’ Category

Equal Opportunity Oppression: Dan Rather Reporting from Portland, Oregon

In Current News on June 3, 2010 at 7:13 PM

These are kids that are 10, 12, 13, 14 years-old. And– they get paid more because they’re young. And it’s– it’s mind boggling to me that some man would go have sex with a 14 year-old and pay two hundred dollars because she’s 14.

Sergeant Doug Justus, Portland’s Vice Detail (1)

One of the key objectives of 13 is to demystify Human Trafficking. Namely, Child Sex Trafficking as the ghastly crisis taking place in developing nations like India, Thailand, South Africa, and Brazil. Once people come to acknowledge the prevalence of Child Sex Trafficking in developed nations, the second layer of demystification is the notion that it only affects poor people of color from broken families living in inner-cities plagued by drugs and violence. Contrary to popular assumptions, even children from middle class neighborhoods like Bickford, Tigard, and Estacada are being victimized by traffickers of children.

It was a startling event that captured recent negative attention to this Pacific State with the second highest count on rescued prostituted children in North America (Missouri is first). On May 17, 2010 NBC news published a report about upset parents in Portland, Oregon. The Portland Police Bureau distributed its annual “Operation Safe Summer Guide” to elementary school children.  The pamphlet, brought home by kids in grades kindergarten to fifth,  included words like “sodomy” and “rape” and a warning to 15 year olds that they could be tried as adults for committing sex abuse crimes. In the end, the Portland Police Bureau issued an apology and the Portland Public School district officials stopped distributing the pamphlets. (2)

Upon further findings into the story an investigative report released by Dan Rather on Child Sex Trafficking in Portland, Oregon was published a day later. The investigation was informed by interviews with various enforcement agents.

Portland, Oregon is without doubt one of the nation’s treasures. It has been voted one of the best places to live and work. But according to police, the city and its outlying communities has become a hub for the sexual exploitation of children… And according to Doug Justus, the workhorse sergeant in charge of Portland’s tiny Vice Detail, many of the children caught up in this are middle class kids from the area. (3)

Dan Rather -Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The report shed light on American rural towns, suburbs and cities facing the challenge of Child Sex Trafficking, revolving around the lack of law enforcement, namely human resource allocation and prosecution for trafficking. The lack of accurate data needed to properly understand and respond appropriately to the crisis is also problematic.

The factors contributing to the ease and proliferation of Child Sex Trafficking criminal activity in Oregon are not only similar to other States in America, but many nations all over the world. In the case of Oregon there is a legal sex industry. City interstate and rivers provide easy routes for traffickers. Sexual trafficking enforcement laws are pervasively lax.  Just like the developing world, even Oregon has a large population of vulnerable street kids (and dependence on exploitable farm workers). (4)

As identified in numerous reports and case studies on human trafficking from around the world, Dan Rather points to the alignment of trafficking of humans with guns and drugs. Criminals in the drug trade are now converting to sex trafficking. The porous and under-policed nature of Child Sex Trafficking means that there is less chance of being caught, prosecuted, sentenced and convicted for trafficking compared to selling drugs. To reinforce the point, one drug produces one payment making sexually enslaved children stable revenue producers in comparison. Handled like a commodity, a child can be repeatedly bought and sold for sex. According to Rather’s report, in Portland one child can produce anywhere from $800 to $1000 a day for a pimp.

Whereas, the presentation of the “Summer Safety Guide” guide is disturbing and the outrage of parents is understandable, the intent to protect children and inform parents and the public on issues of sexual abuse and exploitation is socially relevant and overdue. Current events in Portland, Oregon represent a broader lesson for the global family. That is, to find  means to address the issue of human trafficking, sexual abuse, and child sex trafficking with an approach that manages our lack of knowledge on the magnitude while educating us on the proximity of the phenomena in the neighborhoods we live in all over the world.

– Zola Dube

1. Salem News. Dan Rather Reports’ Investigates Oregon’s Growing Problem of Underage Sex Trafficking. May 17, 2010.

2. NBC Online. Oregon Cops Under Fire for “racy” Summer Safety Guide. May 17, 2010

3.  Rather, Dan. Pornland, Oregon: Child Prostitution in Portland. The Huffington Post. May 18, 2010.

4. Hannah-Jones, Nikole. Human Trafficking Industry Thrives in Portland Metro Area. The Oregonian. January 9, 2010.