EDITORIAL: Slavery lives on. It hides in criminal circles and masquerades as prostitution. Its new target: teenage girls and boys. Its servic-es: sex and labor. Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries, bringing in around $9.5 billion a year.
According to the Polaris Project, an organization that works in the global fight against human trafficking, in the United States alone there are about 100,000 children in the sex trade each year. While prostitution is commonly displayed in the media as a life of choice, movies like “Pretty Woman” and “Risky Business” are an inaccurate portrayal of the identity of most prostitutes. Many are young teenage boys and girls from all socioeconomic levels who are seduced into this lifestyle.
According to Ann Angel, Mount Mary College graduate professor in the English writing department who has assisted with the “Untold Stories” panel series, most women and children who fall victim to trafficking are manipulated, tricked and seduced by a trafficker who may pretend to be in love or helpful initially in an attempt to win them over.
“Those who are trafficked lose their humanity and become com- modities to the trafficker,” Angel said.
Angel warned that people should be aware trafficking is happening in their city and smaller cities and towns throughout Wisconsin. In addition to awareness in our own cities, sporting events like the Super Bowl are hot spots for major trafficking activity. More than 10,000 slaves are brought into the sporting location to entertain spectators, more commonly men, throughout the Super Bowl weekend. Some victims are expected to perform 25 to 50 times per day.
According to the Polaris Project, “there are more individuals in slavery today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”
We have to help further society’s progression in its fight for self-respect and end this vulgar crime.
Advocate Safe Harbor laws
According to a petition from Carolina De Los Rios, Ph.D., director of client services for the Polaris Project, “these laws define these sexually exploited children as victims of abuse, help them find protection and support, and grant them immunity from prosecution for prostitution while they are un- der 18 years of age.”
Advocates can sign the Safe Harbor petition on the Polaris Project website, www. polarisproject.org.
Raise awareness about the Human Trafficking Resource Center
Contact the center at 1-888- 3737-888, through Facebook and verbal networking.
Visit the Polaris Project website, www.polarisproject.org, for local volunteer opportunities or help out at a local women’s shelter where trafficking victims sometimes take refuge. Also check out www.endslaverynow.com and join the Underground Railroad to become an activist.