As children, innocence and naivety defined us. We relied heavily on the adults in our lives, and many of us owe our childhood happiness to our parents. The love and attention parents give to their kids is important because the memories we make as children influence us for the rest of our lives.
What if our parents did not care for us, but instead sold us into a child sex trafficking ring? This is a horrible reality for many children all around the world, and Anneke Lucas was one of them.
Anneke Lucas was sold into the Belgium sex trafficking market in 1969 when she was only six years old. Around her sixth birthday, she was taken to an orgy where she was used for an S&M show. The boss of the pedophile network was a Belgian cabinet minister, and she recognized many people at the orgy from TV.
After being humiliated and violated in front of all of these people, she stood up for herself and threatened to expose them. They then led her into a room where a child had just been murdered. She remained silent.
For five and a half years Anneke was raped and abused for what she calculated to be around six hours a week; experiencing 1,700 hours of rape before she was twelve. When she was eleven, Anneke was “no longer of use to the network,” and was to be murdered. She was strapped to a butchers block stained black from the blood of all the children murdered before her, and was tortured.
Someone negotiated for her life to be spared, but she was told to remain silent forever.
It took Anneke 40 years to tell her story, but now she is using her experience to help others. In January, she started an online petition calling for legislation mandating that hotels post clearly viable signs explaining what sex trafficking looks like, and that they train employees on how to recognize the victims. The petition has more than 54,662 signatures as of this article being published.
The horrible truth is that most victims of sex trafficking do not realize that they are being trafficked. Most often they are runaways or homeless youth, and victims think that abuse is part of a normal relationship.
“I was trafficked in hotels twice, luxury hotels,” says Anneke. “I think if I had seen something very simple in the hotel lobby – ‘If you are under 18 and engaging in a sex act, you are a victim’ – I would have taken down the number.”
New York assemblywoman Amy Paulin has now introduced a bill that requires hotels to become more engaged in fighting sex trafficking by training employees to spot victims and activity that denotes trafficking. Some possible indicators of sex trafficking include guests who book multiple rooms or pay by the hour, men accompanied by young girls who appear to be downtrodden, and girls with tattoos of bar codes or phrases like, “Daddy’s Girl.”
If the law is enacted, it will apply to all lodging facilities including hotels, motels, resorts, inns, and boarding houses. Ms. Paulin is confident it will become law. If you want to support Anneke in her fight against sex trafficking in New York, please sign this petition!
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