This week a news station in Denver, Colorado, featured a 3-part story on sex slavery. In the past three years, they have rescued over 250 children and teens in Denver alone. It's no secret that sex slavery exists, but it's not often discussed. World-wide, there are about 20 million children and women that are bought and sold as part of a global sex trade.
However, this problem is not just one for other countries. Human trafficking and sexual expolitation happens every day in the U.S. In fact, the Super Bowl is one of the largest sex trafficking events in the U.S. each year. As football season is getting underway, law enforcement officials in the Bay Area are gearing up to take as many preventative measures as possible to eliminate sex trafficking for Super Bowl 50. The End It Movement has worked to bring awareness to this horrifying industry, and created a very powerful video highlighting just a small portion of what goes on. Disclaimer: it's hard to watch but needs to be seen.
Sex trafficking is not only a violation of the basic human rights of choice and body automony, but it is a major health concern. There is often some form of violence associated with this industry and there is a high risk of contracting STDs. Pregnancy at a young age leads to many complications and puts both the mother and child at high risk for health problems and even death. Worldwide, the second leading cause of death for girls ages 15-19 is complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
This needs to change.
We've mentioned the United Nations' new Sustainable Development Goals quite a bit lately. Number 5 on the list is gender equality. It is impossible to obtain unless if we all take a stand to reduce violence against women. This includes standing up for our young girls and women* at home by spreading awareness and supporting organizations such as End It that work to stop sex slavery and by encouraging a culture of consent and respect.
The basic laws of supply and demand apply to sex trafficking. Organizations can and do work tirelessly to rescue those that have been forced in to sex slavery. However, the only way to create long-term eradication is by changing our cultures that support it. So let's eliminate the demand.
* Note: while sex trafficking does not solely apply to girls and women, I have focused on them for the purpose of this article.