January is Sex Trafficking Awareness Month
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state, including Missouri. Human trafficking includes forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sex trafficking by means of force, fraud, and/or coercion. Sex trafficking specifically, is the selling of an individual for sexual services in exchange for financial or commercial profit. In sex trafficking cases involving children under the age of 18, it is not necessary to demonstrate force, fraud, or coercion.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 7,621 human trafficking cases were reported in the United States in 2016 with 26,727 calls being made to the hotline1. Victims of human trafficking may be anyone; men, women, children, foreign nationals, and U.S. citizens across all different backgrounds and they have been identified in all communities across the United States. While trafficking affects individuals from all demographics, there are some circumstances or vulnerabilities that can increase a person’s risk, including but not limited to: runaway and homeless youth, individuals who have experienced prior abuse or violence, individuals with disabilities, individuals with temporary citizenship, and individuals experiencing poverty.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website contains thousands of posters of missing children. Many are girls, classified as “endangered runways….”
“Nobody knows what the real numbers are,” said Ernie Allen, the NCMEC’s chief executive. “I’m also confident that the internet has changed the dynamic of this whole problem. We’re finding an astounding number of kids being sold for sex on the internet. The internet led to a ‘wholesale transformation’ of prostitution, DA says….”
— Steve Turnham and Amber Lyon,
CNN Special Investigations
If you believe you are the victim of a trafficking situation or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. You can also submit a tip on the NHTRC website.
Don’t try to survive sexual violence alone. The YWCA Metro St. Louis provides support for anyone surviving trafficking or sexual violence. Call us for help, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 314-531-RAPE (7273).