Do you ever watch MSNBC? It is one of the few networks that boldly shines a spotlight on the issue of sex trafficking in America through their series, Sex Slaves. They travel across the nation, highlighting various cities where law enforcement is taking steps to crack down on the purchasing of sex.
Sometimes, the target is the demand side. Law enforcement agencies set up sting operations and use undercover police officers to pose as prostitutes. Once a deal is made, the john- the person purchasing sex- is arrested on the spot.
Other times the purpose of the operation is to rescue the girls and the undercover officers pose as johns. They set up shop in a hotel room while other officers are monitoring hidden cameras in the adjacent room. Once a deal is made, the doors open and the arrest is made.
While there have been several episodes of Sex Slaves, there still seems to be a lack of awareness of the issue of sex trafficking in this country.
Awareness is the first step in fighting this heinous crime.
People don’t notice what is happening right under their noses. In fact, sex trafficking is called the crime hidden in plain sight. This isn’t just a third world country issue or an inner city issue. This is as close as our backyards. As I travel the country speaking, I’m astounded by the number of people who are just hearing about it.
Recently, USA ran a Law & Order SVU marathon where they highlighted the issue of sex trafficking to draw attention to this issue. Some of the episodes focused on internationals being brought into our country for trafficking purposes, but the majority of the episodes focused on the homegrown problem of American children being bought and sold by American men. 83% of confirmed sex trafficking victims are citizens of the United States.
So what can you do? Most of you don’t own a television network. You don’t have that kind of reach. Edmund Burke said,
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
There has never been another time in history when the average person has had as grand a reach or influence as they do today. With the plethora of social media outlets that exists, you can share your thoughts and ideas with more people than you would ever have a face to face conversation with and you can do it in seconds.
- Use your social media platform on social media to raise awareness. Tweet and post news articles and blog posts, like this one, to educate your friends on the issue of sex trafficking. Highlight articles that speak specifically about your community.
- Inform your local media when fundraising events are taking place that support front line organizations in this fight to help fine a light on the work being done to bring this evil to an end.
- Host a book club and read one of the many books about this issue. If you’re not sure where to start, let me recommend one of my favorites, Rescuing Hope. [shameless plug]
- Host a viewing of a documentary or movie about the issue. Very Young Girls is a documentary that will give you a clear picture of what takes place on the streets. Or is you’d prefer a movie over a documentary, you can show Eden, Taken or a number of other good introductory films. View a list of options on the resources page.
- Have a yard sale or a bake sale and give the proceeds to a front line organization that works to fight this issue and restore the lives of the victims. Before you say that won’t make a difference, read about 8 year old, Vivinne Harr, who raised $150,000 for the fight with a lemonade stand. You can read all about it here. If you need help finding an organization to support, you can find a list of suggested organizations, go to the Be the Key page.
No one can fight this issue alone, but if all of us will do something, we can make a difference. Do your part. Get involved. Refuse to look the other way. Raise your voice for hope.