Both I and Youngbee are involved in educating people about the harms of modern-day slavery — often called human trafficking.
One of the most shocking discoveries along the way was that sex traffickers often view themselves as successful businessmen rather than criminals. Brothels, disguised as massage parlors, restaurants, karaoke bars or even residential homes, are notorious for exploiting many Asian women through commercial sex. Here’s why you should be concerned.
Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that exploits primarily women and children for the purposes of prostitution or other commercial sex acts. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, all sex trafficking cases are similar in three key elements — the Act, the Means and the Purpose. The Act involves recruiting, transporting, harboring, obtaining and soliciting victims using force, fraud or coercion. With children, traffickers lure, entice and groom. All this to make money through prostitution or other commercial sex acts.
However, Asian victims, particularly South Korean victims, face additional challenges.
Law enforcement in the U.S. finds it difficult to identify Asian victims of sex trafficking. Many Asian traffickers enjoy the fundamental privilege found in Confucian culture. Confucian culture reinforces the unconditional obedience of employees to their employers while discouraging employees from questioning their employers’ unfair treatment. Because of this, many sex trafficking victims are unlikely to question their employer's mistreatment, particularly if it is done without physical violence. Often, Asian sex traffickers use this seemingly harmless manipulation to exploit their victims. Since Asian sex trafficking victims are unlikely to expose subtle manipulation, many U.S. law enforcement often are ill-equipped to identify these victims.
Many U.S. authorities assume the use of a translator as a solution to identify Asian sex trafficking victims. However, much of the communication in Asian culture takes place through body language or indirect communication. Unless translators have cultural competency, they are unlikely to be effective in victim assistance efforts. It is, therefore, not surprising that many law enforcement agencies and service providers lack the resources for appropriate translating services to assist victims’ needs.
What’s worse, many Korean organized criminals have moved to the U.S. and continuously profit from exploiting Asian women. One recent Korean government report showed that Korean organized criminals derive approximately 75 percent of their revenue from the commercial sexual exploitation of Korean women around the world. Yet in many jurisdictions, neither the federal nor the state law enforcement is equipped to combat Korean organized criminals.
As appalling as these practices are, there is good news. Georgia has become a crucial state in combatting sex trafficking of Asian women in the U.S. Many profiteers reside in Georgia; but their brothels operate in its surrounding states. Money is the biggest motivator for these criminals. Georgia can strengthen its anti-money laundering efforts and use it to uncover the sex trafficking operations across the state lines, including North and South Carolina.
Georgia also remains the home of passionate organizations. What's more, sex trafficking victims have the full support of the governor and the first lady that are not always available in many other states. This year alone, their leadership led the effort to propose bills to advance civil remedies for trafficking victims and protect their privacy during their name changing process.
Now is the time for the people of Georgia to rise. Churches must stand firm to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. If they don't speak up for these women, the enemy will continue to silence the victims’ voices.
Tim Echols started the Unholy Tour to help educate policy makers about the evils of sex trafficking in metro Atlanta. He is a statewide elected Commissioner on the Georgia Public Service Commission.
Youngbee Dale was born and raised in South Korea. She is CEO of Dale Consulting LLC, based in Columbus, Ohio. She serves as an expert witness for commercial sex industry cases and trains both federal and local law enforcement nationwide, including those in Georgia. Her publications can be found here .