November 22, 2015
Trafficking in persons is the fastest growing international crime and one of the largest sources of income for organized crime, it is an estimated $32 billion-a-year global industry, 1.2 million children are estimated to be trafficked each year and it is estimated that nearly 300,000 American youth are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation, yet our society is largely in the dark about this crime against humanity.
San Diego in particular has been identified as one of the top 8 cities in our nation for child prostitution and gangs in California have increasingly turned to the sale of women & girls for sex as lower risk, higher profit in comparison to the sale of weapons or drugs. Additionally, traffickers have found the Internet to be a safer more expeditious means of selling sex than on the street, as well as, a means to attract vulnerable young people, endangering our youth who are often on the Internet.
Girls as young as eleven are recruited into sex trafficking due to their vulnerabilities, first and foremost is the simple fact that they are young and naïve. However, there are numerous other factors that can also play a role, such as, poverty, absent parents, substance abuse in the home, academic challenges, truancy, the sexualization & objectification of women in our society and more. The method most often used for recruiting is referred to as “boyfriending.” That is, when an often older male creates a scenario in which he convinces the young girl that he has romantic interests in her, buying her meals, having her hair or nails done, listening intently to her concerns and eventually convincing her that he has her best interests at heart and that she has finally found someone to love and care for her. In a short amount of time, often just weeks, he is then able to ask her to do him a favor, to help him with some money problems, just for a short period of time and often with the promise of love and marriage. Unfortunately, once the young woman has “turned a trick” things typically change very quickly and abuse, violence, torture and demands come into play. Sex trafficked women and girls most often have a quota to meet every night commonly set at approximately $1000 or ten men per night. The physical, psychological and spiritual damage is extreme.
This issue can feel overwhelming, as if there isn’t much that one person can do. However, we all have something that we can contribute if we are willing.
Executive Director, GenerateHope