A Snapshot of Human Trafficking Today
- 32 billion – annual revenue in human trafficking industry (US Dept. of Justice)
- 21 million – the number of people enslaved today (Int’l Labor Organization)
- 13 years old – average age of girls trafficked in the U.S. (US Dept. of Justice)
- 4.5 million – the number of people caught in sexual slavery (Int’l Labor Organization)
- 3 – the number of people enslaved out of every 1,000 people alive. (Int’l Labor Organization)
In the world of human trafficking, ignorance is not bliss, it is barbaric. Sex trafficking is increasing at alarming rates. Why? It’s simple really. Because girls (and boys) can be sold over and over as opposed to illegal weapons or drugs that can only be sold once. This makes for huge profits!
For those that escape, there are less than 100 beds in the U.S. at facilities who offer specialized care, education and restorative services. There were none in the St. Louis Region until December, 2012 when Crisis Aid opened their first U.S. Safe Home. With the ability to house 22 girls, Crisis Aid’s Safe Home provides food, shelter, medical care, legal support, counseling, education, and most importantly, hope for a better life.
The “sex sells” marketing prevalent in our society, applies to more than car commercials and billboards.
It can be seen in the lives of real children and is bringing an increasing real danger for our American communities.
How Does This Happen?
One of the most common questions we get asked is, “How does a girl end up being trafficked?”
There’s no easy answer, but we’re learning that it is often starts with the breakdown of her family. We’re also learning that the Internet is playing a big role.
Upper middle-class and college-bound, Nina had her plans derailed in her senior year of high school after her mother was sentenced to two years in prison for financial crimes. Lonely and looking online for male attention, she started messaging back and forth with a man who said he was falling for her. They talked about trips they’d take together as a couple, and about marriage, maybe kids.
“He sold me the biggest dream in the world,” she says. “I thought he really did like me and we were going to live this fairy-tale life together.”
The fairy tale ended fast. Almost immediately after she arrived in Seattle, he dropped her off on a street where prostitutes troll for customers and told her she was going to “catch dates.”
Many would have run, but Nina says her deteriorating family life left her with a sense of desperation. She was smitten, and willing to do anything for the man she thought loved her. So she stayed.
You can read Nina’s whole story by clicking CNN Money.