Sex trafficking is a phrase we unfortunately hear more and more often these days. What used to be a topic only heard through international news sources in far away places has become an increasingly used headline on domestic shores, incredibly too close to home. “Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act”, according to Shared Hope. Speaking of close to home, I have several friends and family members combatting the dark sex trafficking world, and I’m exceptionally proud of all their work.
Sex trafficking has become so popular because of the sick demand, and the potential of profits. While the capital fuels the market, the traffickers supply the victims, most often girls (and boys) between the ages of 14 and 16.
These deplorable people prey on their victims through many different avenues, namely social media home neighborhoods and night clubs. They often hook their victims with promises of money, protection, stability, a generally a better life. Due to the natural states of the victim’s home lives, they are often not reported, or silenced but the fear from their capturer. Even when they escape the trafficking rings, they are so damaged and abused they have to be treated for pregnancies, drug addiction, domestic violence, STD’s and abortions.
There are few organizations and people out there trying to help these victims by spreading awareness and providing positive information about dealing with sex trafficking . Some of these methods are quite interesting and creatively progressive. A new video game series “A Moment Free From Darkness” is helping spread awareness via a fictional Cambodian sex slave character. I’m proud to say that my brother-in-law, Brian Schrank, and his team at Inflatable Reality designed and developed this series that is helping bring virtual empathy to this ghastly and trending tragedy by humanizing the victims of sex slavery.
This video explains how the game works, take a look!
Please feel free to take a look at the site to learn more about how this all came about, and stick around the site to download and play the game here. You can contact Brian directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or LIKE them on Facebook here!
Dr. Bruce Gilpin, a local to Asheville shared his testimony with us. Here are some facts from him on the issue and what he is doing to help victims recover.
“When people talk about sex trafficking, they usually think “overseas.” They don’t think it happens in America. Unfortunately, it does. Overall there are estimated to be about 29,000,000 people working in slavery in the world of which about half are enslaved in sex trafficking. Minors being trafficked is a big issue with estimates of 100,000 to 300,000 children being trafficked in the United States, many in child pornography. The most surprising number is that 30-50% of the sex trafficked minors are boys. The average age of entry into trafficking is 11-13 years old for boys and 12-14 years of age for girls. Currently there are no recovery or restoration homes dedicated to boys rescued from sex trafficking. There are some programs where they are lumped with other at-risk youth but the needs are different. Our program is dedicated to boys rescued from sex trafficking, to provide a home for them until they are able, through counseling, activities and education, to return home.”
- 27,000,000+ people in slavery now worldwide
- 2nd largest growing criminal industry
- 50% of trafficked individuals are minors
- $150 Billion in illegal profits from slave exploitation, of which $99 billion are from sexual exploitation, trafficking, and pornography
MY sister-in-law, Kristin Schrank, loaned me her expertise on the subject, as an Assistant District Attorney in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office: “As a prosecutor in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, I have seen firsthand the extent of human trafficking within both urban and suburban settings. It is far too common and the impact it has on the victims is significant. Unlike the drug trade, which is also a substantial industry, a body can be sold over and over again, an infinite number of times. I personally worked with a fifteen year old victim of sex trafficking. Myself, as well as a colleague, have criminally prosecuted multiple individuals for sexual victimization of this particular young girl. The effect and impact on her will be lifelong. As a result of the sexual victimization she has endured at the hands of multiple men, she will now be more susceptible to ongoing sexual victimization, physical assault, alcohol and drug abuse, mental health problems, and various other issues. Working as a sensitive crimes prosecutor, I have come to learn that human trafficking is an international, multi-billion dollar industry. In my experience, I have seen numerous serious offenders profit financially from the sexual exploitation of young girls and women. These serious offenders prey upon the vulnerable for their own financial gain. It is prominent and is a significant concern for the safety of individuals within every community.”
My father-in-law, Ray Schrank, is an Immigration Attorney and was also very generous with his time and professional opinion: “As an Immigration attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with an active practice in the Chicago Immigration Court I have in the past three years been involved in a significant number of pro bono Asylum cases primarily from Central America. Some of these are unaccompanied minors. The boys are usually running from the gangs as young males ages 10 to 14 make excellent drug and gun runners. The young women, ages 12 to 15, are typically running from Human Trafficking. These children are risking the dangerous Travel across Mexico by themselves and then the uncertainty of incarceration and Immigration Court proceedings in the USA. There desire to leave their home and risk this journey supports the horrendous conditions these young children are running from. A recent 14 year old from El Salvador came unaccompanied to the USA after her family paid a coyote $4000 to get her to the Mexican/American border. Upon arrival she went to USA border patrol and was Incarcerated at Dilley, Texas for several months before she moved to Milwaukee. He case was in Immigration Court. She left her home because three of her older sisters between 12 and 15 had been taken by gangs and placed in an International Ring of Human Trafficking. As reported by the US Dept of State the northern triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have the highest crime rate in the world and gangs rule. The police lack resources and often do not have gas in their vehicles to respond to calls. The justice system does not exist and corruption is pervasive. As a result gangs, cartels, and criminals act with a high degree of impunity. Other examples of Honduran young women and boys are common. Their stories reflect the same reason for running but the results vary. Those who escape Human Bondage and do not suffer that indignity are forced to suffer in other ways. The ravages of human trafficking creates a lifetime of suffering with little opportunity for escape, For that reason, the young children now crossing our border are running from a life of misery and escaping a life in hell, as depicted in Brian Schrank’s educational game, while the multi billion dollar industry to human slavery known as human trafficking continues to flourish.”
I’m so proud of my family and friends and the continuous work they do to fight the expanding world of sex trafficking. Brian, Bruce, Kristin, and Ray are only four of the many brave folks who routinely do what they do best in illuminating a very dark subject, with integrity, perseverance, research, creativity and legal prowess.
How can you help?