Ray Bechard is a passionate and articulate man… His advocacy for the fight against exploitation and slavery, known as human trafficking, started in the 1990’s, when he was producing a video in New York about a foster child with HIV. He asked questions…and he never turned away from the issue… He never turned his back on the victims. He became a crusader…. and an expert author, bringing this issue out of the shadows and into the light.
Delilah and Ladyjustice had the pleasure of interviewing Ray Bechard for an hour on this episode of “Shattered Lives.”
Listen to podcast of the interview with Ray Bechard:
A preview of topics during this podcast
Delilah talks about a colleague with the same passion – Dottie Laser…
The HeartBeat Ensemble of Hartford… The Beginnings of a play on Human Trafficking Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE) “comes to life” – Dispelling the myths.
2012-Federal Report – The U.S. is a destination country for people to be brought in from other countries, HOWEVER, it omits that the U.S. is the largest destination for trafficking!
“Finding the goods”- Going to a local high school, college or mall is much easier to go to Vietnam, Vienna etc.
The Myths of Human Trafficking: Seven in total in the book; The Berlin Turnpike
1) It happens elsewhere… In reality, the victims are from the US born citizens.
2) Stolen people or kidnapped people… The vast majority are coerced or romanced into trafficking;
The Berlin Turnpike book exemplified and illustrates what happens: Five years ago in June of 2007, they came from Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut … As is typical one girl was brought in by her aunt to the “stable of girls” and then a friend recruited.
Where are their parents? Probably working the street corner up the block…
Multigenerational without parenting skills;
Pimps – a complex picture
Add the ingredient of drug addiction;
Parallels to welfare 3rd or 4th generation…. Welfare has replaced the need for the male;
Young men and women are aspiring to be pimps;
Media examples glorifying the lifestyle that have become main stream
Money, power, status and control; inclusiveness as when they are in a gang “Never been treated so well”;
Female victims have often suffered sexual abuse; If untreated, the pimp can “see it a mile away”, woos her…. It becomes an intentional addiction- between “the girl and the personality of the pimp.” ‘Can’t live without him;
Pimps leading multiple lives –
From the book – Real life example- Dennis Paris sold two 14and 16 year old girls for $600; was arrested in 2006; Tried in 2007, Sentenced in 2008; His brother- arrested last November was a trafficker operating out of the same motel; His wife, recruited, dated others, was a State Trooper; She also photographed girls to put on line while on duty
From Delilah: Discussion of the “grooming process;” Where do they get these girls? Example – Magazine sales- Escort advertising in alternate newspapers often owed by large newspapers corporations. These ads are a big source of revenue (Example – Hartford Advocate was Dennis Paris’s sole means of advertising – The Hartford Advocate was mentioned 60 times in his trial.)
Recruiters’ creativity- depending upon the geographic area;
“Girls are the “new drug” according to police task forces;
The internet – a whole new ball game. The trafficking world explodes….. Bad guys getting out of prison, criminals are replacing girls with drugs. It’s more profitable, less risky, they do far less jail time; Police do not know how to investigate adequately compared to drugs.
Asset Forfeiture Drug Crimes vs. Human Trafficking-Who gets the Assets? ;
The incentives are built into the internet; No need to wait on passers by; Ordering girls via the internet easier, global, more sophisticated “just like ordering pizza;” Total anonymity in the business transaction for john and the pimps, the prostitute is the one at risk.
Vulnerable girls – Various degrees of readiness. Grooming… How long does it take?
Painting the Picture – Donita’s experience -Excerpt reads by Donna from the book, The Berlin Turnpike;”
***Donita” YouTube” from the Berlin Turnpike-
Ray’s discussion of Donita in the book….
The main reason for writing the book – Dehumanization and giving a voice – A play and possible movie…
Ray’s former book- “ Unspeakable” about Child Trafficking
New book in progress- “Supply Chain” about forced labor and how it works around the world;
Other Forms of Trafficking- Beyond SexCrimes
1) Forced or Exploited Labor– the largest dynamic of trafficking;
2) Discussion of Domestic Servitude – a huge disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor;
3) Child Soldiering – Africa and other countries for 9 and 10 year olds killing during wartime; Exp. – 12 year old boys serving Hitler -,Russell Crowe’s “Master & Commander” “Nothing new”;
4) Forced Marriage – Young girls are literally purchased
5) Organ Harvesting – MD’s who make no more than taxi drivers see opportunities to make a year’s salary;
UN, US State Department Labor Studies- There are more enslaved people in the world now versus former “abolition of slavery;”
“Head in the Sand Mentality”: Why is this topic so uncomfortable? A matter of economics
Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act in 2000, and efforts since then; The Mann Act; Reauthorizations; The Congressional Response;
States doing better than others re Human Trafficking; No Standard
2008 authorized a very progressive Federal law; DOJ wrote a template for a model state law for all to use… No one has….. Economics at play…
Discussion- Why write about Connecticut’s Berlin Turnpike ?– Ray discusses its history;
Ray uses “the Turnpike “as an example of what goes on and as a metaphor for the internet;
Delilah asks, What can the average citizen and legislators do to understand the issue?
The myth that it’s only a Federal problem – Local and state legislators do not know how it affects their locality;
Connecticut’s Permanent Status on the Commission of Women;
Ray’s background that brought him to the issue of Human Trafficking –
The start – A video of a foster child with HIV – *** An amazing story
Contact Information for Ray Bechard and his books:
- Shattered Lives: Raymond Bechard, Author of The Berlin Turnpike,A True Story of Human Trafficking in America (imaginepublicity.com)
- It’s Time to Celebrate! South Carolina Now Has a NEW Law Against Human Trafficking! (traffickinginsc.wordpress.com)
- Canadian Teen Girls Charged With Human Trafficking (purestrange.wordpress.com)