An outreach organization in California says young Southeast Asian women are vulnerable to sexual exploitation in America.
Banteay Srei, which works with young women and girls ages 12 through 24 in Oakland, says the risk of sex trafficking is pronounced for second generation Southeast Asian Americans dealing with cultural divisions such as language barriers.
“The girls are struggling with a new cultural identity of growing up in a newly emigrated refugee household where often times there isn’t a common language that parents and kids can share,” founder Elizabeth Sy told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program.
“Even as the kids are going through this issue and being recruited, they can’t tell their parents not only because they are ashamed of it…but also because they don’t have a language capacity to do it.”
Ms. Sy says there are several factors that make it difficult to identify Southeast Asian girls who have been recruited into the domestic minor sex trafficking trade.
“The main system that we had relied on in order to identify victims of trafficking were actually law enforcement and they weren’t recognizing young Southeast Asian women in particular.
“The population is not as engaged in the welfare system, which is the other system we depend on in order to identify victims and survivors.
“Also, this particular population happens to be underground, working through internet services or in motels and not necessarily on the street so they are a lot less visible.”