As I began this journey with Pedal the Pacific, I knew little to nothing about the sex trafficking epidemic. I was not even sure what all the different terms were or what they even meant (because there are many). I was utterly overwhelmed. I did not know the basics of human trafficking, which made me feel like I was not qualified to advocate or even care for the victims of sex trafficking. But that is not true. That’s not true for anyone, but still, I wish I knew at least the basics going into this. So that is what I’ll be giving you, the basics. A simple rundown of the extraordinarily vast and scary thing called human trafficking.
What is Sex Trafficking?
So what is sex trafficking? Homeland Security says that sex trafficking “involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” Sex trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world and is one of the fastest-growing. The sex trafficking industry is generating millions, if not billions of dollars a year, with the selling of humans. Sex trafficking has been reported in ALL 50 states. The United States is ranked as one of the largest countries globally to have the largest number of human trafficking incidents. It is estimated that the average age a child enters the sex trade is about 12-14. (sources below)
Who is Being Targeted?
The traffickers target specific people and people groups who are the most vulnerable. Some of the most at-risk groups that these traffickers target include children in the foster care system, runaways, the homeless, the LGBTQ+ community, migrants, or refugees. All ethnicities are at risk of being trafficked, but the communities of color have been targeted the most. I know more than a few people who identify as one or two of the groups in my life. I am sure you can think of at least one person in your life who can identify as one of the groups as well. It is crazy to think about. Just the same as you and me, real-life human beings are being taken and sold for their bodies.
What are Pimps and Johns?
Growing up, sometimes you might have heard your friends call each other a pimp just being silly but maybe not knowing what it truly meant. I lived in a place where pimp culture was cool, and kids would dress up as pimps for Halloween; we would praise rappers who openly described themselves as pimps. Little did we know of the larger implication of this.
A pimp, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is a type of trafficker who controls women and arranges clients for them in exchange for money or some kind of profit or earnings. These pimps persuade, seduce, and brainwash these women into working for them. The pimps are in complete and total control of these women’s lives and their money.
Johns, on the other hand, are the people who buy sex. Millions of johns purchase sex from children in America. Johns keep the sex trafficking industry in business. Johns can represent anyone and everyone from all walks of life. The rich, the poor, the old, the young, and every ethnicity. These johns like to believe they are not causing actual harm, they may even think the women enjoy it, but in reality, the johns are causing more damage than they know. Buying sex has been so normalized. Only until we begin to recognize that the buying of sex is happening in our communities will we begin to care.
I challenge everyone to read all the past and future blogs that my fellow riders have written. The content that they have written about is so important and so relevant. Don’t be someone who only cares or waits to take action when it happens to someone they know. Care because there are actual humans who have been stripped of their fundamental rights. Care because these humans are being objectified and sold to another human for money. Take action and be a part of something that genuinely makes a life-changing difference. Learn about the cause, and fight for victims of sex trafficking and their rehabilitation.
I hope this blog has helped you understand the “basics” of sex trafficking so that you can feel more confident in advocating for these victim’s rights. Please message me with any questions you may have.
Till ALL are free!!!!
-Laney Grace Cox
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