Every day I see stories on the Internet about human sex trafficking, and quite honestly, I don’t read them all. The term human trafficking has created a great buzz and momentum; however, what is actually being done to confront the insanity?
Media glamorizes sex and pimp culture. Our malls exploit pre-teen girls in sexual advertisements, and recording artists promote rape and abuse. Backpage.com is saturated with thousands of advertisements every day, blatantly selling victims for sex. Verizon On Demand provides its customers with hard-core porn exploiting young women and Barnes and Noble proudly sells daddy-daughter rape books. Our culture is providing the perfect soil for sex trafficking to thrive and talking about the issue is not enough anymore. Awareness is only the beginning, but it must propel us to action which paves the way for necessary change.
There are incredible, dedicated advocates across our state and country who are fearless in their pursuit of social justice. Many trafficking survivors, community leaders and everyday citizens are rising up and refusing to turn a blind eye because they understand there are a multitude of victims who need to be rescued and restored. But dare I say, we need greater action and greater results.
Reading these stories every day provides an avenue for sympathy, but sympathy without action is simply an emotion. To provide better outcome for victims of human trafficking, we must rise above the emotion and unite our efforts to rescue and restore those caught in this throng of evil.
In my state, New Jersey, groundbreaking legislation was passed three years ago. Unfortunately, it is impotent because it has not been fully implemented. After all the exposure, awareness and education, we still do not have one bed for a sex trafficking victim. There has yet to be a John School educating the buyers on the reality of trafficking and the Victim Assistance Fund is non-existent.
Once rescued, victims lives are at risk if they dare speak out against their pimp, and what are we offering them in return? We must provide them with a safe place and basic resources to help them heal, or they will be back on the street in the same violent situation. Our states must follow through on legislation or the johns will keep on buying, the pimps will keep on selling, and the victims will remain victimized.
Our actions and inactions greatly matter, so today let’s kick it up a notch. Let us follow up within our local communities. Take the conversation to the next level. Ask the hard questions. Determine where your state ranks in combatting human trafficking (//sharedhope.org/what-we-do/bring-justice/reportcards). What legislation is in place and has it been fully implemented? Does your state have a human trafficking task force? Have your local law officers been trained to recognize trafficking victims? What services are in place for victims? Is there a safe house for the victims? Determine what steps need to be taken to secure a stronger plan of action in your state and take up your part in the process. Don’t simply post and repost articles, but let your actions be heard louder than your voice. Stand up for Dignity.
Kelly Master, Director Dining for Dignity