#minorsextrafficking | Our View: Focus resources to fight human trafficking on Guam | Opinion

Human trafficking occurs in every region of the world, including right here on Guam.

Trafficking includes sex trafficking and forced labor, according to the U.S. Department of State. About 24.9 million children and adults are trafficked each year. The data collected for the 2020 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons showed that in 2018, about 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported by 148 countries, according to the United Nations.

The Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence said that Guam doesn’t have current statistics of human trafficking, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 10 cases of potential trafficking in Guam from 2012 to 2016.

The Blue House karaoke lounge operated as an underground brothel between 2005 and 2007. Women from Chuuk were forced to work as prostitutes at the lounge. The case also led to the conviction of former Guam police officers Anthony Quenga and David Manila.

And in 2019, a nationwide crackdown on child sex trafficking resulted in dozens of arrests across the country — including a Guam man accused of trafficking a girl in exchange for cash and drugs. The FBI said 103 children were identified or recovered nationally because of the operation, and 67 suspected traffickers were arrested.

There are signs to look out for, according to Hope for Justice, a charity working to bring an end to modern slavery and human trafficking: people who seem scared, confused or have untreated injuries; those with few or no documents, or someone else in control of their documents; limited freedom of movement and dependency on others; fear of police/authorities, among others.

The key to fighting the problem is a stronger focus of resources, which translates into money, planning and dedication. We need to make it a priority and ensure elected and appointed officials dedicate the resources to investigate, enforce and prosecute offenders.

Making human trafficking penalties outweigh the risk and benefits, while creating a higher chance of them being caught, prosecuted and penalized — with hefty fines and prison time — will help reduce the problem.

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