More and more, pimps are using social media to lure unsuspecting girls into prostitution. A CNNMoney investigation uncovered the shocking reality, though there are few hard statistics on the sope of the trend.
More and more women are accepting friends on sites like Facebook only to find a pimp on the other end of the request. CNNMoney conducted interviews with victims of these crimes in California, Virginia and Washington to uncover how social networks are being used for human sex trafficking.
WiredSafety.org executive director Parry Aftab started seeing instances of pimps luring victims into prostitution in 2001 through her work with internet security and for teens and children in particular. She sits on an informal Facebook advisory board and has received child recovery awards for her work fighting online sex trafficking. Aftab comes to “Starting Point” with more on the issue.
Aftab says that more people than we realize are being recruited into prostitution via social networks. “People are lonely, they’re looking for love, they’re looking for affection,” Aftab says.
Pimps know how to spot insecure women and the methods by which to manipulate them. “There are ten different categories of sexual predation ploys that are used,” she says, and on social media “you can play with those different ways to find out what will lure that young woman.”
It’s not easy to walk away once they realize the situation because, Aftab says, “they’re needy” and vulnerable. “And these young women are often threatened. They’re lured through love; they might be enticed with money.”
Parents also aren’t monitoring the social media pages of these victims who are often16 or 17 years old. “Unless you’re smart about using social media,” she says, “you’re far more exposed.”
According to a recent report from the US State Department, over 27 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking. It's a $32 billion dollar industry, and in many cases girls as young as 11 are being bought and sold into prostitution.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing to address the problem of human trafficking at home and abroad. Jada Pinkett-Smith and her daughter, singer Willow Smith, will be testifying at the hearing.
This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Jada and Willow preview their testimony and explain why it's important to raise awareness of human trafficking in the US. They're joined by special guests, Minh, Monica and Jaquan, all survivors themselves of human trafficking, who will also be attending the Senate hearing.
Jada Pinkett Smith is using her star power to fight child trafficking and sex slavery, which 200,000 minors fall victim to every year in the United States.
“I could’ve very easily been one of these girls,” Smith tells CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on Starting Point.
Smith began her campaign against human trafficking after her daughter Willow became interested in the cause after watching the Kony 2012 video.
“There are girls in our country, her age that were being sexually exploited and she couldn’t believe it,” Smith explains. “I started to do my own research and a whole world opened up to me.”
The majority of victims that are sex trafficked in the U.S. are children, according to Smith.
“There is no human being on this planet who should have to endure treatment like that and especially a child,” she says.