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Sex trafficking must be stopped

Even in the U.S., the fight for freedom is not over.

This sad reality was revealed to many this week in MSNBC’s premier of “Sex Slaves: Motor City Teens.” The show follows the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Unit, which conducts a sex trafficking sting operation several times a year entitled Operation Cross Country, demonstrating that juvenile prostitution is a very prominent problem in the U.S.

Child slaves want and very desperately need someone to fight for their rights, and it is time for more people to stand up for them.

The Polaris Project is one of the movers and shakers fighting for America’s slaves.

According to the Polaris Project, 100,000 minors are in the commercial sex trade in the U.S. Currently, there are more people held in slavery than at the peak of the transatlantic slave trade, according to the project’s website. Slavery is very much alive and well in America, yet most people will not even notice.

Young women and girls, of various races, are being bought and sold in the U.S. Carrie Rosetti, executive director for The Kansas City Alliance Against Human Trafficking, said to MSNBC that “a trafficker can make $632,000 a year by selling four women or children” – hot commodities in the sex market.

Some slaves come from broken homes and often are sexually abused. MSNBC profiled Caroline Germann, who was not even in kindergarten before she was molested by a neighbor. At the very vulnerable age of 13, Germann began using sex as a tool to survive.

There is an issue here that goes beyond sex. Women and girls are using sex as a means to survive. Too many people are ignoring this very disturbing issue, and we must call upon government officials to bolster efforts to crack down on sex trafficking and provide more support for victims.

The Polaris Project highlighted a girl named Keisha, who was 14 when she ran away from her foster family because of sexual harassment. She was taken in by a man who forced her to engage in commercial sex with his friends to help support them financially.

Victims do not always come from broken or poor families. According to the Polaris Project, some may come from middle- and upper-class families. Clearly, the reasons why women enter the sex trade are diverse. While some may enter it voluntarily, most likely see it as their only option. Once in, it’s hard to find their way out.

Modern slavery is an issue that Americans must join together to help destroy. The very foundation of our nation is rooted in the right for all to experience freedom and equality.

This is not just a problem for women and children. According to the Polaris Project, men have also been reported victims.

Interested students can get involved with groups such as the Polaris Project or the Clearwater/Tampa Bay area Task Force on Human Trafficking. Federal and state governments should channel more resources into enforcing anti-trafficking laws, as ignoring the issue won’t help. Americans should not turn their backs on those in need and should join the fight to end modern day slavery.

Jessica Guinyard is a senior majoring in poiltical science and sociology.