This past Saturday, I attended Saving Innocence's 7th Annual Gala. Saving Innocence is an LA-based non-profit that works with LA law enforcement, attorneys, and social workers to end child sex trafficking in the Southern California area. This organization, like many other orgs, works relentlessly to rescue children--predominately young girls--from dangerous pimps. In 2018, Saving Innocence rescued 509 survivors--which is no easy feat. Sex trafficking is a heavy topic; however, it is an extremely important conversation that we need to be having. Americans often assume that sex trafficking occurs solely in developing countries; for instance, Haiti, Africa, and other similarly situated nations come to mind when discussing the exploitation of women and children.
The United States is not exempt from this issue.
New York City.
Each of these cities rank amongst the top ten for the highest numbers of sex trafficking.
Why do we not speak about these crimes that are occurring in our backyard? For starters, sex trafficking is taboo. It's one of those issues that are uncomfortable; yet, this discomfort should not be a deterrent from speaking out for those who cannot speak out themselves. At the Gala, Saving Innocence's Executive Director Alan Smyth spoke about one of the organization's youngest clients. This young girl was seven years old. Her father had trafficked her for years before that.
A hot buzzword that comes to mind is privilege. Imagine if you were born into a different set of circumstances--how different would your life be? Imagine how easy it is for young minds to be manipulated into selling their bodies each night. The mere thought is uncomfortable. However, I invite you to lean into the discomfort and find organizations that work to end this violation of personal liberty.