Beverly Holland was charged last week with trafficking teenage girls from Vermont to New York to work as prostitutes. Holland allegedly used an apartment in Burlington to train the girls before taking them to New York City to work as prostitutes. It is unclear how Holland recruited the girls for work, but according to the indictment, Holland forced the girls into the illegal sex industry. Authorities speculate that they girls may have been runaways or “troubled” teenagers, possibly involved in drug use.
Sex trafficking is an issue of global proportions. According to the State Department, an estimated 700,000 people, mostly women and children are victims of trafficking a year. Of these, an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 are trafficked in the United States. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), however, estimates that globally, one million children per year are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and that between 244,000 and 325,000 women and children are victimized in the U.S. The State Department has established an Interagency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons to address the problem in the U.S. and work internationally to eliminate the practice altogether. One hundred and thirty two nations are also currently holding the Second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Yokohama, Japan.