South Carolina appears to be a hotbed of child prostitution. Like Kat Wehunt or Heather Pound, many children find themselves forced to submit to the disgusting things that adults impose on them. Both 14 years old at the time of the events, the teenage girls were forced to do what their tormentors ordered them to do: “From the age of 14 to 17, I was sold to pastors, doctors, lawyers, police, and people who were thought they would never buy a child’s sexual services were buying me,” said Kat Wehunt, a prostitute who was prostituted by a relative who had been abusing her from an early age.
How did they get there, you ask? They were sold in the worst way, since they were betrayed by one of their relatives. Victims often know and trust their traffickers. According to the Polaris project, the group that runs the national hotline, the family is the second most important source of recruitment. “People often think about money because the industry is estimated to be worth $150 billion a year, but we’ve seen food, clothing, parents trading their children for rent,” said Kathryn Moorehead, director of the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force. According to law enforcement, drugs are often the driving force behind an adult selling a child. Traffickers know this, and they look primarily for lost, poor, and addicted people. The primary victims are girls and women, but of the 22,326 identified victims of human trafficking in 2019 in the United States, boys and men were also trafficked. Introduced into this terrible system by people they trusted, child prostitutes are identified and exploited by traffickers. They seek above all those who have been abused in the past, runaways or children facing an unstable family life. What could be better than fragile beings, demanding protection, easy to manipulate? “A young person, who is looking for support or love from someone and that someone gives it to him or her, he or she thinks that he or she is providing for them. They don’t feel that they are victims themselves. They just feel like they’re giving back,” said Moorehead. That’s how Heather went through a real descent into hell: “He said he loved me, that no bad things would ever happen to me again, that he was going to take care of me. It was like he came as my knight in shining armour and all the bad things were going to go away, and I believed everything he said,” she said with regret. To keep her under his control, he drugged her, got her hooked. For the next 18 years, the young woman worked the streets. The prison finally saved her, when she finally realized she was a victim. To heal the wounds of their past, both women chose to dedicate their time to helping their fellow men. By founding associations to collect, educate, listen and support victims of human trafficking, Heather and Kat are taking concrete action against traffickers. source 1,2.
Unfortunately, these stories are far from being isolated dramas. In 2016, a Richland County woman told her 13-year-old sister and her best friend that the three of them were going to a birthday party. It was a trap. The woman turned the two teenage girls over to Quincy Brian Bright, a monster who has since been convicted on two counts of human trafficking, drug possession and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Bright had invited men to the party, who took turns raping the girls in exchange for money. South Carolina, once again… Like Myrtle Beach, this state is the center of many exchanges between parents of victims and pedophiles willing to pay. In 2016, one out of twenty cases of recruitment of a family member occurred in South Carolina. For example, a woman allowed her male roommate to rape her 13-year-old daughter in exchange for a rent reduction on their Greenville County apartment in 2017. Another woman allowed her boss to have non-consensual sex with her 16-year-old daughter in exchange for money in Berkeley County that same year. And these are just a few examples! Family trafficking is often misidentified as child abuse, rape or incest, making it almost impossible for the public to understand its extent. “There is this idea that human trafficking is done by pimps who send children to earn money, but it actually happens within households. It can happen in any community,” said Shauna Galloway-Williams, executive director of the Julie Valentine Center. “Many of these crimes go unreported each year. Children know that reporting these crimes could break up the family. And most of the time, they just want to go home,” said Judge Melissa Buckhannon. “This is the person I’m supposed to go to when I’m hurt or scared, and it’s the same person who hurts me,” said Galloway-Williams, a Certified Professional Counsellor at the Julie Valentine Centre. Where it’s difficult for a child to talk about what they’re going through is that their tormentor is someone they love deeply. In some cases, adults tell children what could happen if the secret is revealed. The relationship is used for despicable emotional blackmail. “They may be afraid of what will happen to them or to someone they love, especially if it is a family member who is the sole breadwinner,” said Ms. Galloway-Williams. “They can lose the roof over their heads. They may be forced to leave home. Someone else may have to leave the house”.
Many of the victims we have just mentioned mention Myrtle Beach. Seaside town bordering the Atlantic Ocean, this pretty city of 30 000 inhabitants is visited every year by millions of people. But this idyllic setting hides a dark reality. In September 2020, Theodore Woolings Bye III is arrested, and 26 charges are brought against him. The same week, a 62-year-old man, Randy Mickael Faulkner, is charged with six counts, including exploitation of minors in the second degree. The list is horribly long! Wouldn’t this family resort be a mecca for child sex tourism, like Thailand or Morocco? If we look at the numbers of pedophiles listed, we can see to what extent South Carolina is rotten by this scourge. It is not for nothing that it is one of the 14 American states which, in 2017, authorized marriage from the age of 13 years old …source 1.2 Selling one of one’s own, a widespread practice in the world. The figures known are appalling, yet they represent only a tiny part of the reality of human trafficking. 30% of trafficking is said to involve children, the majority of whom are girls. It is estimated that in 2016, more than 10 million minors will have been sold. 72% of these girls would be sold for sex trafficking. And how many children are exchanged without anyone knowing, since they have no official identity? The loopholes benefit the monsters, who know where to look to find the fresh meat they are going to turn over to unscrupulous rich people, and less rich too. For all these paedophiles, the life of a little one has no other price than the one he will bring back to his executioners. If we understand that in many countries, people are so poor that they will do anything to get their heads above water, what can we say about what is happening in our so-called civilized countries? In June 2019, an article tells a truth that we would have liked to forget: Europe is also concerned! Child prostitution and the use of children for forced labor or to join gangs is not an old practice. Thus, in the United Kingdom, between 2018 and 2019, the trafficking of minors doubled, and child slavery grew even more. Most contacts between minors and pimps, or minors and clients, are now made via the Internet. According to the authorities of the European states, it is mostly young people from family breakups or immigration who are concerned. So what about the children from Outreau (horrible French pedoring where most of the pedos were acquitted), those from Angers (the same) or this case in Germany? source 1.2
Many children, believing that this is the only way to provide for their families, are willing to be exploited in this way. Many of them perish after being kidnapped. In Algeria, 276 children disappeared in 2012, many of them were found murdered and sexually abused, 13 children per hour disappear in India. This is part of the reality of what these children are going through. Betrayed and sold, forced to experience horrors, again and again, and again… What could be worse? These kids must be protected! How to recognize a child victim of such acts? It’s sometimes more complicated than it seems, since kids do not necessarily show signs of abuse. For some, what they have been forced to do is seen in their minds with guilt, shame and fear. Once again, the adult knows how to manipulate the child, playing on all the sensitive strings possible. And it is not, unfortunately, the few survivors who have set up an association that will stop this monstrous traffic. So, how can we prevent such ignominies from happening again? Would helping families to eradicate poverty and drug addiction be enough? Or will the world only succeed one day in putting an end to this monstrous traffic by endlessly and mercilessly tracking down every pedophile ready to destroy innocent lives? If the two solutions can undoubtedly be complementary, sometimes the most radical is still the best!