By David Pendered

The sentencing of disgraced singer R. Kelly in all cases of abuse, including forced labor, underscores a groundbreaking new report on human trafficking in the United States that includes a section on Georgia.

R. Kelly was the subject of abuse allegations when he called ‘Mr. Show Biz Presents: The Light it Up Tour ‘in Atlantic City, NJ (Photo by Nicholas Ballasy via wikipedia.org)

Kelly’s September 27 conviction ended nearly three decades of charges against Robert Sylvester Kelly, known as R. Kelly, an R&B actor and music industry entrepreneur who has won three Grammy Awards and 26 nominations. A federal jury in Brooklyn found Kelly guilty on all nine counts, including minor sexual exploitation, coercion and forced labor, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for New York City.

The condemnation drew attention to the Federal Human Trafficking Report 2020 released by the Institute for Human Trafficking on October 4th. Since 2017, the institute has provided an annual overview of all federal persecutions of human trafficking.

This year’s edition has additional information – a compilation of all federal human trafficking prosecutions in every state since Congress passed the landmark Human Trafficking Act in 2000. Part of the law provides this definition of human trafficking:

Federal prosecutors have filed far more sex trafficking cases than forced labor (graphic above). Most of the victims of human trafficking in the United States are from Central and South America. (Images from the “Federal Human Trafficking Report 2020”, compiled by David Pendered)

  • “[T]the recruiting, housing, transporting, providing or attracting a person for work or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of submission to involuntary bondage, peonage, bondage or slavery.

Key takeaways from the Human Trafficking Institute report include:

  • Forced labor trials are rare. Prosecutors filed more sex trafficking charges in 2020 than any forced labor criminal case since 2000;
  • The Southern District of Georgia filed its first forced labor case in 2020;
  • “In 2020, the Northern District of Georgia dismissed charges against three defendants in a 2002 sex trafficking case. One of the defendants was prosecuted in Mexico and the other two defendants are refugees believed to be in Mexico as well. “
  • Since 2000, a total of 3,169 accused of trafficking in human beings have been convicted;
  • Most of the victims entering the United States are from Central and South America;
  • Most offenders used non-physical violence to control victims – threats, fraud, wage or immigration papers;
  • A third of cases start with a victim notifying law enforcement agencies or a hotline.

The final data point of who alleges the crime is a widespread phenomenon as the majority of victims fear reprisals or feel shame and do not inform anyone about their situation.

The victims’ courage to come forward was quoted by a top investigator in the R. Kelly case. Peter Fitzhugh, Special Representative in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York, noted in the statement:

At the Women’s March 2019 in Los Angeles, a woman carried a sign calling for action against singer R. Kelly. (Photo by Luke Harold via wikimedia.org)

  • “When his victims tried to flee, Mr. Kelly and his accomplices silenced them through bribery, intimidation and physical violence. The brave survivors who overcome Mr. Kelly’s abuse deserve our greatest respect for telling their stories and ending his 30-year reign of terror over the young and vulnerable. “

Introducing the new report, Lindsey Roberson, Director of Legal Affairs for the Human Trafficking Institute, pays special tribute to victims of abuse and highlights their help in producing a report that highlights progress and the need for more work to combat it Indicates predators. :

  • “We are grateful for… the survivors who make this report possible and ensure that it is an accurate and restorative tool for those who work to fight trafficking in human beings. With this unique analysis, we can celebrate how far we have come to hold traffickers accountable for their crimes, but also to take an honest look at how much work remains to be done. “

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