By Senior Master Sgt. Corey Miller
21st Security Forces Squadron
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Marie, a 26-year old woman, sits in her modest room and looks around at her fellow entertainers. She remembers when she was promised a career in entertainment when she signed her initial contract. She had no idea she would spend 14 hours a day being groped and fondled by men for what amounts to the equivalent of $1.25 an hour. She has no free time to herself. She stays in a three bedroom apartment with nine other women. She was 22 years old when she was lied to about this job in a foreign country. She does not control her own passport anymore, long since taken by her handlers. Marie wonders to herself, “What has become of my life?”
While this scenario is fictitious, it is not uncommon in the criminal world of human trafficking. According to the State Department, human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud or coercion. When a person younger than 18 is induced to perform a commercial sex act, it is a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud or coercion. Victims can be anyone from around the world or right next door: women and men, adults and children, citizens and noncitizens alike.
The State Department became lead for the United State’s efforts to combat human trafficking in 2000 as a result of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Department of Defense Instruction 2200.01 directed each service to formulate policy and guidance which would be used to educate and inform service members of their responsibilities for awareness of the crime as well as avenues of reporting. Air Force Instruction 36-2921, Air Force Combating Trafficking in Persons, directs installation commanders to appoint a Combating Trafficking in Persons office of responsibility. Here at Peterson Air Force Base, the 21st Security Forces Squadron has been appointed to this position.
While the administrative actions necessary to combat this terrible crime have been taken, what should service members, DOD civilians and their families know about human trafficking?
The two main aspects of the CTIP program are awareness and reporting. According to the State Department’s 2012 Trafficking in Persons report, there were 7,206 prosecutions, 4,239 convictions, 41,210 victims identified and 15 new legislative efforts to combat this problem worldwide in 2011. Many United States allies, and countries where service members may find themselves in either an official temporary duty assignment or even a vacation, are battling this wide-spread criminal pandemic.
If you are abroad at a bar or nightclub and see obvious signs such as women being ushered in and out of a club, security internal to the establishment specifically tasked with watching the female entertainers or women forced to entertain with sexual favors against their will, report the activity to the CTIP hotline at 888-373-7888 or report online at www.polarisproject.org.
While this situation is more likely to be encountered outside of the Colorado Springs area, this does not preclude a person’s responsibility to be aware of their surroundings. For Air Force members, the training for CTIP is located on the Air Force’s Advanced Distributed Learning System website and is a mandatory annual training requirement for all active duty, Guard, Reserve and DOD civilians. For family members, CTIP 101 can be found at http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/training/dhs_awareness_training_fy12/launchPage.htm.
For further information, contact Tech. Sgt. Kelly Guenon or Senior Airman William Tucker, 21st Security Forces Investigations section at 556-7060. For direct reporting on Peterson Air Force Base, call 556-4000 or use the national CTIP hotline at 888-373-7888.