Previous President Obama dubbed January as ‘Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Month’, and as much as I admire him for bringing national attention to an issue like Human Trafficking, it doesn’t deserve just a month. This devastating reality deserves to be spoken about every-day, 365 days a year. This topic deserves year-round awareness. It is EVERYWHERE. I am not sure what city you are reading this from, but I can bet that Human Trafficking is happening somewhere within a couple mile reach of you. I do not say any of this to scare you. January is not dubbed ‘Human Trafficking Scare-you-to-death Month’. It’s called Awareness for a reason. You need to be aware. Your friends need to be aware. Your family needs to be aware. You boyfriend needs to be aware. Your cousin needs to be aware. Any human with a heartbeat MUST BE AWARE of what is happening in America and all over the world.
My mother has tackled this topic head-on for the last five years, and I have been lucky enough to gather information from her mission along the way. Not only have I personally met female victims of Sex Trafficking in Los Angeles and Orange County, but I have heard their stories, looked into their eyes, and watched them try to struggle through a simple smile. These young, beautiful, intelligent women are just like you and me. They are dressed in Forever21, look forward to seeing the latest movie in the theater, have dreams for their future, and just long to be adored. Many of these women simply trusted the wrong man at the wrong time, but unlike the broken heart that I received from jerks past, these women were exploited, abused beyond belief, and torn to shreds as a human being.
“At first, I thought he was my boyfriend. Then he convinced me to have sex with strangers to make money. He was my pimp. I was 15 years old. I was being advertised on the Internet and sold for sex to support my ‘boyfriend.’ – Jessica, sex trafficking survivor ” (*taken from the June 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report via www.state.gov/documents/organization)
In a 2014 report, the Urban Institute estimated that the underground sex economy ranged from $39.9 million in Denver, Colorado, to $290 million in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m sorry but did I read that right? DENVER? GEORGIA?!? Yes, THIS IS THE REALITY that we are dealing with.
I could write about this topic for days and days, but quite frankly, my blood pressure can’t handle it because the Italian in me gets too heated up + furious at this devastating situation, so I leave you with some incredible ways to get involved (while I go pray for God to calm my soul):
- Action Force Network for Prevention –Talks to Students
- A21 (Led by the fierce author, pastor, author Christine Caine… one of my personal favorites)
- International Justice Mission
- Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking (C.A.S.T.)— based in Los Angeles, for all my So Cal friends
- Compassion International –Focuses on Child Slavery
- Slave2Nothing –(started by the CEO of In-n-Out Burgers…I didn’t think I could love In-N-Out anymore than I already did, but it just happened…)
- **ALSO! Please check out local churches like Saddleback Church, who are organizing local outreach opportunities, and providing education on the topic.
- **Share all your findings with your friends, and keep in mind: it’s basic economics; the higher the demand, the higher the supply will have to be. If there was not such a demand for prostitution, then the supply would have to dwindle. Let’s tear the curtain down, shine truth onto these ‘fantasies’, and viciously remind the world that real men don’t pay for sex. It’s not ‘cool’, this is not a joke, real lives are at stake, and she truly does not want to be sleeping with you.
Fight the Good Fight
“Do not grow weary in doing good…” -Galatians 6:9