Human trafficking seminar in OC helps pool resourcesNonprofit Mission 14 CEO speaks about ongoing and growing trend in large cities
(April 21, 2017) Investigators from across the mid-Atlantic region convened at Dunes Manor on April 10 to hear from experts in the fight against sex and labor trafficking.
The three-day seminar Human Trafficking Investigators Seminar was backed by Gov. Larry Hogan’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention, the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, the United States Attorneys’ Office Maryland District and the Baltimore-based nonprofit Mission 14.
Nick Cienski, Mission 14 CEO and founder, said sex trafficking has gotten worse in Maryland and elsewhere, as opportunistic pimps are taking advantage of large male crowds.
“In places like Baltimore you do have this very wealthy component and a not very wealthy component,” he said. “We have a big gang problem [and] we’ve got sports teams and arenas. That exacerbates the problem.”
The combination of professional sports teams and an array of conventions helps fuel the sex trade, Cienski said.
“It’s drawing in men and men are the problem,” he said. “Girls are trucked in, bused in, flown in from wherever when games happen. The pimps are there selling.”
The situation is so bad, he said, that sex trafficking has overtaken the illegal sale of firearms as the second worst criminal problem in the country and now ranks just below drugs as a menace to society.
Despite the efforts to raise financial support, Cienski said raising awareness is the principal method to impact the flesh trade.
Christie Kajs, Mission 14 program director, said it’s also vital to eliminate any misperceptions that females willingly engage in the sex trade.
“These guys that think the girl is getting the money need to be educated that that’s not true,” she said. “They’re essentially raping them and they’re not paying them. It’s not the oldest profession in the world, it’s the oldest rape cases in the world.”
Addressing the demand issue is the only way to reduce the prevalence of human sex trafficking, Cienski said.
“These men who buy sex from these young girls, and in some cases boys, I think that’s where the world is battling…how do we turn this corner,” he said. “That’s the nut, you break that and you solve it.”
“When we were first starting it was a taboo subject and it wasn’t dinner conversation,” he said. “Now people want to hear more about it.”
To raise consciousness and fight the predatory behaviors of individuals involved in the human trafficking trade, Cienski said a wealth of information is available on his groups’ website, Mission14.org.
“People get that this is wrong but there’s no silver bullet here that if we just did this it would all go away,” he said. “With more awareness and open conversation change will happen.”