Slavery, in many forms, has been around for millennia. One of the biggest forms of slavery nowadays is sex slavery, usually with its roots in sex trafficking: the trading of humans for the purpose of sexual slavery.
Sex trafficking is very prominent in the United States; so much so that it is a billion dollar industry.
Whereas there are some laws to help decrease sex crime against children, such as Halloween restrictions in many states, and other laws enforcing a sex offender registry, hundreds of thousands of kids are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking every year. But there are people actively fighting this form of modern slavery.
How do people become slaves and why is this happening?
There are many ways in which children become sex slaves. Some are kidnapped, some are coerced by false modeling offers or by family members, and many are exploited through the internet, which is the number one platform for buying and selling sex slaves.
Even with efforts of putting an end to trafficking, nothing can stop it unless the demand for it goes away. A Dutch organization, Terre des Hommes, created an animated 10-year-old girl named Sweetie in what was referenced as Project Sweetie. Over a ten week period, this project identified over 1000 adults from 71 countries willing to pay Sweetie to perform sex acts via Webcam; over 20,000 people attempted to contact Sweetie through a chatroom in the same time frame. Without a change in the current demand worldwide for sex slaves it will remain impossible to eradicate this horrendous industry.
What is being done to end sex slavery?
One organization in particular has made heavy contributions in the effort to stop sex slavery. Operation Underground Railroad is an organization run by former CIA and Navy Seal members. In October of 2014, along with The Walking Dead's Laurie Holden, Operation Underground Railroad performed a raid in Columbia in which they saved many children that were forced into sex slavery. In their latest raid in Columbia, they rescued 123 kids.
In many states, promoting prostitution is only a misdemeanor and many victims are too scared to testify against their traffickers. Additionally, those charged with sex trafficking in the United States haven't seen very harsh punishments; three separate cases in 2013 led to a mere 3 to 3.5 year sentence for sex trafficking. This "punishment" isn't much of a deterrent when traffickers collectively make billions of dollars each year.
What can you do to help?
Sex trafficking is a scary thing. The popular movie Taken depicts sex trafficking in France and could make any parent fear for their kids' lives. But there are things you can do to help.
If you educate your kids on signs of possible abductors and situations that can make someone seem more vulnerable, or make them more vulnerable to being abducted or coerced into being a sex slave, this could be enough to help deter traffickers. You can also help spread more awareness that this is a real thing that occurs every single day here in the United States. Too many people assume that sex trafficking is only a problem on foreign soil in third world countries; it's not. We can't all go to Columbia or Thailand to rescue these kids, but you can start in your own country, town, and neighborhood and support those who rescue these kids elsewhere.
Many people are caught up in political correctness, gender and racial equality, and other social issues in the country but aren't aware of the equally serious issue of human trafficking. If we all put our differences aside and join together to fight this serious and harmful issue, we can save a lot of lives.