Today we say goodbye to January. (It was a long, cold one.) I hope that despite the freezing temperatures, you have been active in making this world a better place to live.
I’m starting off this year of blogging with a heavy topic. January 2014 has been named by Presidential Proclamation, “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.” In the event that this may have slipped by any of you, I’d like to let you in on some startling facts in the hopes that it will motivate you to help eradicate sex trafficking in our communities:
- At least 100,000 children are used in prostitution every year in the United States.
- The average age of entry into prostitution is 13.
- Victims are targeted. Pimps are predators who seek out vulnerable victims, preying particularly on runaways. They invest a great deal of time and effort in tricking their victims, promising to be their caretaker and/or boyfriend.
- Most victims are vulnerable because of something that has happened earlier in life, i.e. childhood sexual abuse, poverty, lack of supervision.
- 70% of children in foster care are trafficked.
- Prostitution does not discriminate.
- A woman’s average life expectancy only seven years after the date of entry into prostitution, with HIV/AIDS and homicide being the main causes of death..
- Pimps and Johns are in control, not the prostitute.
- Prostitutes are often tattooed or “branded” to identify who they “belong” to.
- Studies of women in prostitution have documented that 79% of prostitutes were coerced through some degree of force, such as kidnapping or violence by a pimp and 79% reported beatings by customers.
- A study in Georgia reveals that most customers are 37-55 year old men from the suburbs.
- Five customers per night is average. This equals 1,820 forced sexual encounters per year.
- Repeated, complex trauma leaves one feeling helpless and fearful. Their fight, flight or freeze alarm system does not work any longer. They are emotionally arrested.
- Each victim gives $250,000 per year, based on a quota of $2,000 per night. In a study of former pimps, the majority of those surveyed said that the girls and women they controlled did not keep any of the money they made.
- Victims are misidentified and are being treated as criminals.
- Healing has to happen in the context of community because they have been isolated.
“Silence is complacency, and you are part of the problem.” ~Melissa Farley
Dear reader, dear friend, the magnitude of the suffering is staggering. Let the LORD speak to your soul regarding these unspeakable atrocities, and then take advantage of opportunities to help others. Please protect our children. Demonstrate your love no matter the cost. This is not a hopeless situation. Find a way to help families at risk.
If you think someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.
Addressing Misconceptions: Prostitution, Valley Against Sex Trafficking (VAST), 2014.
Bowley, Mary Alice. Lecture on A Response to Sex Trafficking. Life Church, Allentown, PA, 16 Nov. 2013.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Fact Sheet, Innocence Lost Working Group, 2010.
The Prostitution of Children in America: a Guide for Parents and Guardians, Innocence Lost Working Group, 2010.