Dear Future President,
Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery in the United States through the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. However, it is now 2016 and slavery still has not been eradicated. Sex trafficking exists today in great concentrations within the United States, as well as within many other countries. Children as young as 11 years old are getting their identities, their innocence, and their bodies stolen by the demented sex traffickers that sell them to others to be sexually exploited.
The first time I became aware of what sex trafficking was and the fact that it is going on in the United States was when I was a sophomore in high school. My local hair salon asked me to participate in a fashion show that would raise money to combat sex trafficking. I agreed, although I was unaware of what it truly was and why we needed to raise money. I soon learned that, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, sex trafficking is “the illegal business of recruiting, harboring, transporting, obtaining, or providing a person and especially a minor for the purpose of sex,” and that it is running rampant within our own country.
Being that I personally was never taught what sex trafficking is, and that many people also were never taught what it truly is, we must to be educated on this subject. Awareness and knowledge needs to be spread so that we can start to tackle this problem. The government must step in and mandate that sex trafficking be included in high school health class curriculum in order for high schoolers to be aware of what is going on and how to avoid getting pulled into it. Knowledge is power, and if people are properly educated on how sex trafficking happens, they will be less susceptible to the coercion of the leaders, which will result in a lessening amount of victims.
Mr. or Mrs. President, I ask you to imagine your own daughter at 11 years old, her blonde hair in a braid, giggling as she swings on the swingset at the playground. Imagine your daughter being sold to a stranger that is more than three times her age. Imagine your daughter being forced into prostitution and/or pornography. Imagine your daughter thinking that her only worth is her body, and that the rest of her life would solely consist of sexual abuse. This image will boil your blood and send shivers down your spine, yet it seems so far fetched, something that would only happen in an undeveloped country far far away. However, this is not just a fictional tale. This is the reality for thousands of girls right now across our country. The women and girls getting trafficked are those who run away from abusive homes, those who have fallen into drugs and alcohol, and even those who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They get picked up by “pimps” who take advantage of their fragile or adolescent state and brainwash them into believing that they can give them a better life. Not only is this happening to girls already within our country, but between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year, as reported by Dosomething.org. How are we letting this multi-billion dollar industry go unnoticed?
Our government needs to be a voice for those who do not have one. The women and children coerced into this business are silenced by those controlling them. They are afraid to seek help because they are told that if they try to leave, they will be prosecuted for prostitution. In fact, many times they are arrested. Despite the “safe harbor” laws enacted by some states to protect victims of sex trafficking, the State Department 2015 Trafficking Report mentions that some victims “were detained or prosecuted for criminal activity related to their being subjected to trafficking.” Having these laws in place do nothing for the victims if they are not enforced.
Instead of waiting around for victims to seek help, because, in most cases, they won’t, the government needs to allot money and resources for the FBI investigate and break up the trafficking rings and rescue the women and children entangled in this demented business.
We cannot turn our cheek to this issue anymore. Our government needs to be the voice for those who are silenced: the thousands upon thousands of girls and women whose bodies and lives are being sold like the slaves of the 19th century.