Share & Connect
The movie “Taken” released in 2008 brought to light and grabbed the attention of millions across the world as the movie raised awareness about one of the fast growing industries in the world: Sex trafficking.
While the movie revolves around girls being smuggled as traveling tourists in western European countries, then addicted to drugs and forced into prostitution, there is one thing that the movie doesn’t recognize; this is not something foreign that is going on. It’s not just in Europe or Asia or Africa. It’s happening right here in the United States, in our very own backyards.
According to Sarah Vardaman, Senior Director of Shared Hope International, “the majority of the victims that we’re finding who are child sex-trafficking victims are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.” And According to the U.S. Department of Justice, sex-trafficking is growing at an alarmingly fast rate.
“In 2005, the Department of Justice reported there have been an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 sex slaves in the U.S,” reported International Crisis Aid on their website. They also pointed out that “in 2009, a University of Pennsylvania study estimated nearly 300,000 youth in the United States were at risk of being sexually exploited for commercial uses.”
One of the youths that represent this statistic is 16-year-old Brianna (her real name was changed for her own protection), who was 12 and living in New York City at the time that she was captured. Brianna had gotten into an argument with her mother one evening and decided to leave the house for the night with plans to stay with her friend’s older brother.
Her plans of returning home in the morning changed in an instant when she found out her friend’s older brother was a pimp and she was now his property. From that point on, Brianna’s life changed forever and her childhood had been taken from her.
The first thing the pimp did was lock her in a room where he took several provocative pictures of her and then posted her on Backpage.com. This website is known to be the most advertised and popular website in America today for sex trafficking. According to AIM Group, “Backpage accounts for about 70 percent of America’s prostitution ads.”
Brianna was repeatedly beaten and advertised on Backpage.com. After three years of living in fear, bearing sexual and physical abuse and being demoralized by men willing to pay to watch her perform sexual acts on the web, Brianna managed to escape. She ran away to a place called “Gateways,” which is a treatment center for girls ages 12-16 that have been victims of the sex trafficking trade.
New York Times’ Reporter, Nicholas Kristof claims Brianna, who is now receiving the therapy and support she needs, is one of the “lucky few.” According to the Huffington Post, “Brianna is one of one hundred thousand American girls exploited through commercial sex.”
Kristof believes that this is a growing epidemic, similar to that of the AIDS virus. The sex and human trafficking industries keep growing and if more people aren’t informed soon, or willing to raise awareness and learn about what’s going on right before their eyes, then many more young girls’ childhoods will be swiped out from under them and they will be robbed of having any future at all.
If you are interested in helping putting a stop to this rapidly growing industry and want to learn more about sex/human trafficking please join or check out the campaigns at:
WWW.HumanTrafficking.org & WWW.NotForSaleCampaign.org.