So it hit me extra hard when our college/Washington D.C. friend came to town in December. We haven’t seen her in years, but have stayed in touch here and there, and it was so great to see her and to catch up!
Yes, sex trafficking. Which is a whole dark, horrible thing that you hear about, but I’ve never really delved into it until we sat on our couch late into the night with Cherstyn and she spilled out so many stories and facts and haunting details of something that’s going on right under our noses here in the United States. (For some reason I was thinking this was more common in other countries, but no, there are between 14,500 and 17,500 people trafficked into the United States every year according to a UN study.) Horrendous things are going on in this world hurting children.
And our friend gets to work for this awesome organization that is working to chip away to change that.
(all of this info. is taken from their website that you can click into HERE…so much interesting and heartbreaking information, and some stories from the rescues that have taken place).
The O.U.R. mission is “To shine a light worldwide on the global epidemic of child sex trafficking, and in so doing rescue more children from slavery and assist law enforcement to seek justice for those who violate children. We place survivors on a path to recovery by partnering with vetted aftercare providers.”
Interesting article HERE outlining some facts about sex trafficking, but here are some of the things that hit me the most:
“The International Labor Organization reported that human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide, two-thirds of which is generated by sex trafficking. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, less than two percent of human trafficking victims are ever identified. In 2018 alone, more than 5,000 cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, suggesting the massive influence of this illegal industry.”
Much of the human trafficking in the world today occurs online. No social media platform or online dating service is free from the reach of human trafficking, Wyatt said, including social media giants like Instagram and Facebook. Any website or app where people are communicating with each other can be misused for human trafficking.
Online exchanges can distance purchasers from victims, causing some to believe a felony is just an ordinary business transaction.
“A common misconception that buyers have is that it’s a victimless crime and that these men and women want to be doing this,” Wyatt said. “Most of the time, this isn’t a choice someone had. They were forced into it or tricked into it.”
She said oftentimes victims are forced into these situations by their own family members or to fulfill basic needs like food and shelter.”
This is a tough thing to crack down on because it is such a digital business, and is so easy to spread. There is huge money involved. It is also really difficult to arrest perpetrators because they have to have the digital evidence. SO, because of many very generous donations to help in the cause, Cherstyn was here for a ribbon cutting ceremony to put this new quite amazing vehicle into action:
It’s a huge motor home-type vehicle that is filled to the brim with equipment to go directly to the crime scene, take all electronics which can be used as evidence and download right then and there to the local authorities.