So Maria allowed herself to be smuggled into the United States—and that's when the nightmare began. "I was transported to Florida, and there one of the bosses told me I would be working at a brothel as a prostitute," she recalls.
Maria was forced to work twelve hours a day, six days a week. As she later testified, if the women refused to service a client, "The bosses would show us a lesson by raping us brutally. If anyone became pregnant, we were forced to abort."
Stories like these are sickeningly familiar—and they are what drove former Congressman John Miller from Washington state to take on the post at the State Department enforcing the Trafficking in Persons Protection Act. "I realized that slavery was still alive," Miller told World magazine.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of women and children from poor countries are taken to cities in Europe, Asia, and the United States and forced into sexual slavery.
This is why we so vigorously supported the passage of the bill that Congress passed two years ago. It requires the State Department to identify the countries with the worst sex trafficking problem and to threaten sanctions if no progress is made in correcting the abuses.
But it soon became clear that the State Department was not making enforcement a priority. State Department country experts fear that coming down hard on trafficking might harm other diplomatic and economic interests. And much of the problem is philosophical: Radical feminists who have had influence at the State Department since the Clinton years want to redefine prostitution as "sex work." They consider prostitution just another empowering career option—like nursing or teaching—part of a woman's "right" to control her own body.
Anti-slavery groups pressured the Bush administration to hire someone to head up the trafficking office who had an "abolitionist" viewpoint. Their efforts paid off when John Miller was appointed.
It is clear Miller has the guts to fight hard on this issue. As a congressman, he did the unthinkable: He fought against giving China Most Favored Nation trade status, notwithstanding the biggest employer in his district—the Boeing Company—that wanted to sell jets to the Chinese.
Michael Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, says this is why so many former colleagues—including Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, Frank Wolf, and Nancy Pelosi—admire Miller.
One of the most important elements of Miller's job will be to teach the public that the scourge of slavery is alive and well, even in the land of the free. "And we're not talking thousands," Miller says. "We're talking millions."
You and I need to pray for John. He will be taking on one of the great evils of the world. I recently had a chance to meet with him and discuss this issue. And he is determined, I can tell you, to stop trafficking. Visit the BreakPoint website for ways you can help him.
America may be the last hope for millions of women and children who are forced into lives of degradation. As John puts it, if America fails to take the lead in rescuing them, no one will.
For further information:
Anne Morse, "The abolitionist," World, March 1, 2003 (free registration required).
Read John R. Miller's remarks at his swearing-in as Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
"Trafficking in Persons National Security Presidential Directive," White House Office of the Press Secretary, February 25, 2003.
Read remarks by speakers at the State Department's "Pathbreaking Strategies in the Global Fight against Sex Trafficking" conference held February 23-26, 2003.
Sabrina Eaton, "Conference in D.C. will focus on eradicating sex slavery," Plain Dealer (Cleveland), February 25, 2003.
Priscilla Huff, "Human trafficking numbers feared to rise with possible war looming," Channel News Asia, February 26, 2003.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 021213, "A Job No Woman Would Choose: Hillary and Her 'Sex Workers.'"
BreakPoint Commentary No. 020612, "Traffic Offense: The State Department Whitewash."
Gary Haugen, The Good News about Injustice (InterVarsity, 1999).