Justice means giving someone what he or she deserves. Finally, after facing numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, payoffs to victims and unpopular acquittals singer R. Kelly was found guilty of racketeering and eight counts of sex trafficking in a Brooklyn federal courtroom. The jury found him guilty of being the ringleader in a decades-long criminal enterprise to recruit women and underage girls for sex. Allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with minors have swirled around R Kelly for years, especially after his illegal marriage to the R&B singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just fifteen. The term racketeering is usually associated with organized crime, referring to a group of individuals that attempt to extort, coerce or otherwise create some type of scheme or a racket. In the case of R Kelly, the court and prosecutors felt that his expansive entourage of staff and enablers around the musician constituted a criminal enterprise.
Maybe with the publicity of his conviction the world will look at sex trafficking for what it is, a global epidemic.
The US State Department estimates there are 24.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide. Sex trafficking happens everywhere every day, there are “R. Kelly’s” everywhere. Human trafficking is defined as the buying, selling, and/or transportation of a person for the purpose of exploiting them for sex or forced labor. Specifically, victims of sex trafficking are induced by force, fraud, or coercion into sex acts such as prostitution, pornography, or stripping. Rape, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse are pervasive social problems, yet justice for survivors and accountability for perpetrators remain rare.
There are some very disturbing realities attached to this story, one being why did it take three decades for him to receive justice and criminal punishment? Often celebrities have been given passes and a blind eye was turned to their predatorial behaviors. Fortunately, the #MeTooMovement has put a spotlight on cases such as these and given victims the confidence to step up and speak out about how they have been treated. Another disturbing reality is all his underage victims were women of color. The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community reports that more than a third of Black women have experienced some form of sexual violence during their lifetime and one in four Black girls will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen. For every Black woman who reports rape, at least fifteen Black women do not report it. Too often Black women and girls’ traumatic experiences are minimized. Experts say Black women have historically been far more likely than white women to have their accusations about sexual misconduct distrusted or ignored. I hope that this verdict empowers survivors everywhere to feel that they are not alone, and their voices will be heard.
October represents National Domestic Violence Month. This is when we shed a light on the atrocities that are done towards others. Usually, we hear about women as victims, but it does also happen against men. We must continue to keep a spotlight on these situations. Listening, believing, and acting is imperative. We must also educate people on how to identify predators and stay clear of them. Education is key. The best solution is to stop the situation before it even happens. If you or if you know someone who has been a victim, please do not be afraid to speak up today and ask for help. If you do not know where to begin, locally in the greater Los Angeles area you can reach out to PRC ( 323) 787-9252 or FCI (800) 445-1326.
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Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is a life strategist, coach, consultant, author, and speaker.