Human Trafficking Awareness Month
When most people hear "sex trafficking", their minds immediately go to a scenario similar to the plot of "Taken". Eighteen year old girl goes to Europe and is kidnapped by traffickers. However, in the majority of cases, trafficking involves more manipulation and coercion.
Traffickers often target individuals who they believe will be easily manipulated, resulting in a high number of child victims. It is estimated there are over 40 million victims of sex trafficking globally, and 25% of those are children. Abusers use tactics such as providing basic needs that the victim may not be able to get elsewhere, targeting people addicted to drugs, homeless people, people with disabilities, and runaway teens, in addition to the use of violence and intimidation.
Our founder, Ellen Merker, is working with a group of women through the Wisconsin Women's Network Policy Training Institute to re-introduce a bill that would end charging child victims of sex trafficking with prostitution. The current law, allowing minors to be charged with prostitution, directly contradicts the law that no minors are legally able to consent. These children are victims, not criminals, and should be treated as such. They need support in leaving the situation and finding safety, not to be behind bars. In other states that have enacted this law, they have seen an increase in the reports of sex trafficking from children. Without the fear that they will end up in jail for prostitution, children are better able to trust law enforcement to help them find safety.
We will be sharing updates on this bill on our Facebook page, so that constituents everywhere can urge their legislators to support the bill, so please keep an eye out!
For more information on recognizing red flags and safety planning, please visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline.