One of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world is the buying and selling of humans. With the rise of the internet, sex trafficking has rapidly grown, making it an appallingly common act within our own neighborhoods.
Matt Gaetz, a U.S. representative for Florida, has come under sex trafficking inquiry for his possible involvement with a 17-year-old, revealing the possibility of this heinous act occurring within our government.
Prosecutors are currently investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with the young girl and paid for her travel. Though he denies the accusations, his close relationship with Joel Greenberg, an ex-Seminole County tax collector who has also attracted trafficking allegations, is hurting his case.
Nearly three years ago, Gaetz shared Venmo payments with Greenberg who allegedly helped introduce the underaged girls to Gaetz. To protect them both, Greenberg would memo the transactions under “school” or “tuition.” Daniel J. O’Keefe, the accountant who conducted an audit for Seminole County, said the two men were arrogant and that they must have felt above the law.
Unfortunately, this problem has become a common pattern amongst the powerful and rich. There seems to be a sense of moral detachment that causes individuals like these to feel that they are “above the law” because of their money and status, and therefore, are allowed to commit these horrific crimes.
A 2012 PNA study performed by Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of Berkley, studied people with various incomes to demonstrate a link between money and power.
Researchers brought in a jar of candy meant for children but said that the participants could have some if they would like. It was reported that those who were richer and more proud of their successes took more candy than those who were from a lower social class.
This illustrated that those who have more wealth were more likely to engage in unethical behavior. This study clarifies why wealthier individuals might commit immoral acts and crimes more frequently, yet the solution to this issue is still in question.
Gaetz is only one of the many high-power individuals who have allegedly participated in sex trafficking. Last year, Netflix released the docuseries “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” which exposed the wicked sexual acts that Epstein was charged with, along with other rich and powerful celebrities, CEOs and politicians who were caught participating in his scheme. Some of these included Leslie Wexner, Bill Gates, Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton.
Sexual exploitation also happens outside traditional politics and fame. TikTokers and YouTubers, such as James Charles, Zoe Laverne and Duarte Dom are also being “canceled” or exposed for allegedly using their fame and success to bait underage fans to send explicit photos or engage in sexual acts.
Once someone reaches a level of importance or status, they are often treated like a VIP in life. There are exceptions made for them throughout their fame and that treatment can grow into a standard or lifestyle that is expected by that person at all times.
When one has been taught to feel like they are above everyone else, they’ll feel like they’re above the law too.
This unforgiving act occurs too often within our society. To fight against sexual exploitation and trafficking, we need to educate ourselves about what sex trafficking really is while advocating for survivors and against traffickers, no matter how rich and famous they may be.
To support the fight against sex trafficking, visit OurRescue.org to take training courses to understand the devastating world of sex trafficking better. One step at a time, we can reveal the darkness hidden within our circles and stop sex trafficking in its tracks.