Did you know that the average age of girls used in the sex trade is fourteen and that Atlanta is one of biggest hubs for sex trafficking in the United States? I am a fourteen-year-old girl who has lived in Atlanta my whole life. Every month 7,200 people in Georgia purchase a child for sex. It’s terrifying to consider that such atrocities are happening around and that most people don’t even know that the problem exists!
The clearest definition I have found about human trafficking is it is a modern slave trade that “involves the use of deception and coercion to persuade victims to cross national borders in search of new jobs and better opportunities” (SIRS). Wait, didn’t slavery end with the Civil War? Didn’t Abraham Lincoln free all the slaves? What are we talking about?
This is a whole new type of slavery, and it is so difficult to wrap my head around. Polaris Project estimates that there are approximately 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, and 55% of these are women and children. Furthermore, 75% of human trafficking is sex trafficking, and so much of this is happening right here in my home town.
Yes, there are laws, but for every eight hundred trafficking victims, only one perpetrator, or “john,” is convicted. As an aspiring lawyer, I spend lots of time watching Law and Order: SVU. Just about every episode involves the investigation and conviction of a prostitution or human trafficking case. This led me to believe that courts were dealing with human trafficking, but the statistics I am finding in my research vastly contradict what I see on TV. This problem is not being solved. Are laws not being enforced, or are victims just too afraid to come forward and press charges?