A horrifying case of human enslavement recently ended in Chicago with a life sentence in prison. Alex Campbell beat, raped, and imprisoned some 20 young women, forced them into prostitution, and branded them in visible places, including horseshoe brands on the neck and a 60-word tattoo on one woman's back (pictured).
"It still hurts so bad" said one victim of her brands. Identified only as "Sarah," she told NBC that Campbell had controlled her completely, convincing her that he'd kill her if she failed to obey him.
Campbell preyed on young women whose immigration status had expired. Four of the women entered the US to work for "Au Pair in America" but the jobs had fallen through. Campbell offered them work and started relationships with them. He took their passports and visas, and when he branded them, he told them that meant he owned them and had a right to all money they earned. Prosecutors describe the women's plight as "modern-day slavery."
Meanwhile, Congress has failed to renew the Trafficking Victims and Protection Act, which expired in Sept 2011 and funds law enforcement and recovery care for victims. "The more time goes by the more it puts into jeopardy the funding for trafficking survivors," explains Cory Smith, legal counsel for the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking.
The trafficking bill has bipartisan support. It passed the Senate 93-5, and both Marco Rubio and Obama spoke out in its favor. But it's stalled in the House, where some Republicans object to provisions concerning abortion and religious health care providers.
NBC provides a list of "Indicators of Human Trafficking" and urges you to call the Department of Homeland Security at 1-866-347-2423 if you have evidence that human trafficking is occuring.