Last month, it was discovered that the Justice Department (DOJ) had covertly removed a sizable portion of information from its website dedicated to combating child trafficking. This raised concerns among victims and advocates alike.
The DOJ’s child sex trafficking home page lost two-thirds of its content between April 21 and May 28, according to web archives.
The deleted text reads:
International Sex Trafficking of Minors
One form of sex trafficking involves the cross-border transportation of children. In these situations, traffickers recruit and transfer children across international borders in order to sexually exploit them in another country. The traffickers can be individuals working alone, organized crime groups, enterprises, or networks of criminals working together to traffic children into prostitution across country lines.
This form of sex trafficking is a problem in the United States, and recovered victims originate from all over the world, including less-developed areas, such as South and Southeast Asia, Central America, and South America, to more developed areas, such as Western Europe. Once in the United States, a child may be trafficked to any or multiple states within the country. These victims are often trafficked far from home, and thrown into unfamiliar locations and culture. They may be given a false passport or other documentation to conceal their age and true identity. They may also struggle with the English language. All these factors make it extremely difficult for these children to come forward to law enforcement.
In addition, many foreign victims originate from nations that suffer from poverty, turbulent politics and unstable economics. Children from these countries are seen as easy targets by traffickers because they face problems of illiteracy, limited employment opportunities, and bleak financial circumstances in their home country. It is not uncommon for a foreign victim to be coerced by a trafficker under false pretenses. The child is told that a better life or job opportunity awaits them in the United States. However, once in the United States they are introduced into a life of prostitution controlled by traffickers.
Domestic Sex Trafficking of Minors
The United States not only faces a problem of foreign victims trafficked into the country, but there is also a homegrown problem of American children being recruited and exploited for commercial sex. Under federal law, a child does not need to cross international or even state borders to be considered a victim of commercial sexual exploitation, and unfortunately, American children are falling victim to this crime within the United States.
Pimps and traffickers sexually exploit children through street prostitution, and in adult night clubs, illegal brothels, sex parties, motel rooms, hotel rooms, and other locations throughout the United States. Many recovered American victims are street children, a population of runaway or throwaway youth who often come from low income families, and may suffer from physical abuse, sexual abuse and family abandonment issues. This population is seen as an easy target by pimps because the children are generally vulnerable, without dependable guardians, and suffer from low self-esteem. Victims of the prostitution of children, however, come from all backgrounds in terms of class, race, and geography (i.e. urban, suburban, and rural settings).
Often in domestic sex trafficking situations, pimps will make the child victim feel dependent on prostitution for life necessities and survival. For example, a pimp will lure a child with food, clothes, attention, friendship, love, and a seemingly safe place to stay. After cultivating a relationship with a child and engendering a false sense of trust, the pimp will begin engaging the child in prostitution. It is also common for pimps to isolate victims by moving them far away from friends and family, altering their physical appearances, or continuously moving victims to new locations. In many cases, victims become so hardened by the environment in which they must learn to survive that they are incapable of leaving the situation on their own.
Child Victims of Prostitution
The term prostitution can delude or confuse one’s understanding of this form of child sexual exploitation. It is important to emphasize that the children involved are victims. Pimps and traffickers manipulate children by using physical, emotional, and psychological abuse to keep them trapped in a life of prostitution. It is not uncommon for traffickers to beat, rape, or torture their victims. Some traffickers also use drugs and alcohol to control them.
Technological advances, in particular the Internet, have facilitated the commercial sexual exploitation of children by providing a convenient worldwide marketing channel. Individuals can now use websites to advertise, schedule, and purchase sexual encounters with minors. The Internet and web-enabled cell phones also allow pimps and traffickers to reach a larger clientele base than in the past, which may expose victims to greater risks and dangers.
In addition, many child victims suffer from physical ailments, including tuberculosis, infections, drug addition, malnutrition, and physical injuries resulting from violence inflicted upon them. Venereal diseases also run rampant. Children may also suffer from short–term and long–term psychological effects such as depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness.
Although the Justice Department informed the New York Post that it was to stay up with its 2023 National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, it is unclear why the Biden administration erased the material.
“In the course of the Department publishing the most recent National Strategy, related content on various Department webpages was updated,” said the Justice Department. “Just as it has during previous administrations, the Department continues to place a very high priority on and devote substantial resources to fighting child exploitation and child sex trafficking, both domestically and internationally. To suggest otherwise is simply false.”
But concerns persist regarding the removal, particularly in light of the renewed public awareness of child trafficking brought on by the blockbuster movie Sound of Freedom. According to Tim Ballard, the real-life protagonist on whom the movie is based, paedophile rings employ tactics that are comparable to those employed by the gender totalitarians who currently hold power in the US government.
The Biden administration has also received harsh criticism for continuing unofficial open border policies that encourage child sex trafficking.
“I was not shocked at all,” said Jacob Booyens, an anti-child trafficking activist whose sister was trafficked for seven years. “The reason it happened, the way it happened has a lot to do with the border. It has a lot to do with the timing that there’s a general awareness on human trafficking.”
“We know the effect of trafficking across the border of women and children,” he added. “And so to deprioritize it . . . it’s absolutely moving in the wrong direction.”
This year, after the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) reportedly lost track of 85,000 illegal child immigrants, US senators requested explanations from the Biden administration. The Justice Department believes that between 300,000 and 400,000 children are smuggled into the US each year.
In April, former HHS staffer Tara Lee Rodas testified before Congress that “whether intentional or not, it can be argued that the US Government has become the middleman in a large-scale, multi-billion-dollar child trafficking operation run by bad actors seeking to profit off the lives of children.”
The US government has also been accused of complicity in the child trafficking trade by Fox anchor Rachel Campos-Duffy.
“Over the last two years, this country has become an international hub for child trafficking. And the US government is behind it,” said Campos-Duffy. “Under Biden, hundreds of thousands of children have come into this country illegally. Once they get here, most are sold for sex, used for cheap labor, or forced to join gangs.”