Sex Trafficking in the US
It’s a commonly held attitude in the US that sex trafficking is something that doesn’t happen within our borders. In reality, 100,000 children are victims of sex trafficking in the US every year. The average age of these victims is 12 to 14. However, it’s not unknown for a girl to be sold to sex traffickers from a very young age (5 to 10) by her parents.
The guest on this week’s show is documentary filmmaker, David Trotter. His film, In Plain Sight, tackles the subject of sex trafficking in the US from a unique perspective. He joined us to discuss the motivation behind the film, and how you can get involved in your community.
In Plain Sight is not the first documentary that aims to educate and spread awareness about sex trafficking. What makes it so unique is the hopeful framing of the film’s narrative. It focuses on six female abolitionists after leaving Aftercare homes. These women are brave and strong, and have transitioned into new lives for themselves. By doing this, Trotter hoped to focus on problems as well as solutions, and how we can all do something.
Trotter explained there is so much that people can do to spread awareness about sex trafficking. The most important thing is to just do something. But, it all starts with proper education. A common perception is that sex trafficking only happens after a kidnapping. The reality is that it is much more likely to occur through parents selling their own children or “boyfriends” coercing young women and girls into sex slavery.
State legislatures are making strides to take action. Trotter explained that Tennessee recently passed a law to protect trafficked minors from being charged with a crime. The problem is that there’s no way to hold them. As a result, it is then difficult to get them on programs or provide services that will help them. Once they are back on the street, they are vulnerable and often become victims of trafficking again.
Trotter made the point that prevention is not just about preventing potential victims from becoming victims; prevention is also about stopping potential traffickers. In the film, a Chicago program called CAASE (Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation) is featured. CAASE teaches boys and young men to have healthy relationships with women through everything from the way they speak to and about women, to what it means to respect them. More often than not these men are not aware of how degrading and cruel their behavior is. They are usually simply modeling their fathers and uncles examples about what being a man is.
Those most likely to be trafficked are those living in underserved areas. Victims are always vulnerable in some way: most have been sexually abused by family members, or grew up in domestic violence homes. Although true, it’s important to remember that sex trafficking could happen to anyone. One in three runaways are picked up be sex traffickers within 48 hours. And it’s happening right here in our own communities.
If you’d like to become a part of the movement, you can start with In Plain Sight. On the webpage, you can learn more about how to host a screening, find the book and film resources we’ve talked about today, and contact David Trotter directly.