Imagine 13-year old Fatima being sold over and over for sex all day long in 2015 America. Imagine a bar-code being tattooed over her neck or hips or thighs for easy collection of money from her customers. Imagine the name of her pimp (master) being tattooed on her wrist. Imagine any other branding mark on her body as if she is an animal or a slave.
As a matter of fact, minor Muslim girls like Fatima exist and serve as sex-slaves every day and night in today’s America. Due to many different factors, their number is only increasing.
The Muslim American community can no longer afford to remain unaware about the existence of minor Muslim sex-slaves in America. For so long, we have been living a fantasy that our children are not at risk, whereas our children might be the softest targets for predators out there.
A brother in North Carolina who works as a volunteer with local police told me last year that his local police department has a chart that shows drug dealers activities and target communities. According to this brother, that chart shows Muslim kids being the most wanted target for drug dealers in the community. I asked why. He told me because Muslim parents are mostly wealthy but naïve and uneducated when it comes to drugs and gangs. They don’t go to any workshops or training. The mosques don’t address these issues. There are no support groups or emergency plans in place for such victims and their families. Therefore, it makes Muslim kids the best and easy prey for drug dealers. I have asked this brother to send me a picture of this chart. I have not received one yet, but this concept makes complete sense. I have talked to many Muslim social workers and other Muslim mental health professionals and it makes sense to them all.
As Muslims, we always pray to God for the protection of our children from all kinds of evil. Of course all protection comes from God, but God has also asked us to take certain actions to earn that protection. We are supposed to first lock our car and then ask for God’s protection. We cannot leave a car unlocked and then blame God if it is stolen. Similar is the case of protecting our children. In today’s world we have to be way more vigilant than our parents were thirty years ago.
Now is the time.
Now, it’s incumbent upon the entire Muslim community to seriously address drugs, gangs and trafficking issues as their top priority. MY (Muslim Youth) Project USA is an organization that aims to protect and empower all youth and their families. Communities throughout the US need to step up and join hands with MY Project USA now.
I am a mother of three daughters. My youngest daughter is 13. It is incomprehensible for me to understand the trauma, pain, and misery of these Fatimas, Aishas. and Safias out there being held captive at the hands of these traffickers. It is incomprehensible for me to measure the pain and suffering of their mothers and fathers. Just imagining such an awful experience is so painful--what it would be like to living it not for a day or two, but for years and in some cases for the rest of their lives.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex or forced labor. They are young children, teenagers, men and women. Trafficking in persons occurs throughout the world, including in the United States. Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sex entertainment industry.
According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking generates profits of up to $32 Billion a year. In a 2013 report released by United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, there were 20.9 million victims of human trafficking victims worldwide. Sex trafficking accounts for 58 percent of all human trafficking cases that are investigated around the world. Women and girls account for 75 percent of trafficking victims.
According to the United States Justice Department, a pimp can make $150,000 - $200,000 per year per child in USA. An average pimps has 4-6 girls (slaves). The slaves include girls from all kinds of backgrounds, ethnicities, races, faith groups, and socio-economic statuses.
As far as the reported cases of Muslim victims are concerned, I am aware of the cases within Somali refugee communities in Minnesota, Tennessee, and Ohio. Chaplain Asma Hanif has reported having Muslim sex-trafficking survivors at her shelter, Muslimat al Nisaa, in Baltimore, MD. Similarly Sr. Hadayai Majeed of Baitul Salam Network reports of helping Muslim sex-trafficking survivors in Atlanta, GA.
The list of the top reasons for a girl ending up with the sex-traffickers includes, but is not limited to, the running-away of a child, homelessness, drugs, having a pimp or pimp’s agent as a foster parent, and broken or dysfunctional families.
Among those listed above, drugs is one of the most prevalent factors that could get ANY GIRL, regardless of her socio-economic background, faith, ethnicity, type of school and neighborhood that she lives in. As the drug dealers are now preying upon the middle schoolers (12-14). There are hundreds of accounts of sex-trafficking survivors who were first tricked into trying heroin and after (unknowingly) consuming heroin for one week, they were slaves for years and decades.
The case of run-away girls is different, however. Most of these girls are trapped while escaping parental abuse inflicted upon them by traumatized, first-generation refugee/immigrant parents. Some of these girls might have also gone through the mutilation of their genitals (FGM ) at the hands of their own mothers and family members and that might have added another layer to their frustration and desire to escape from their own homes. There might be so many more reasons, but most of them could be addressed through mental health treatment, counseling, mentoring and support groups created for our youth and parents within our local communities.
In conclusion, by taking right measures and with Allah’s help, we can definitely save many Fatimas, Aishas, and Safias out there.
This calls for a collaborative effort of Muslim mental health professionals, religious leaders and community activists. At the moment, MY Project USA, is the first and only national initiative that is focused on creating grassroots efforts in addressing sex-trafficking, gangs, drugs, radicalization, pornography and other serious issues facing Muslim American youth. We are willing to work collaboratively with national, regional and local faith-based and mental health organizations.
We are committed to our work, but we definitely need a lot of financial and moral support of the community. Until last week, another board member and I had been loaning the organization. We have also been working fulltime voluntarily. Last week, in a fundraiser with Farris Barakat, we have raised a very small amount (less than 50 k). One third of this has already been spent. The rest would only take care of our very basic needs as an organization. We are hoping that the rest of the community soon join hands with us soon.
We have called upon major national organizations to help us with this task. Through this blog we are also reaching out to the entire community. For more information about our program and approach, please contact us, www.MyProjectUSA.org. We ask for your prayers, donations and volunteer hours.