Estimates are that between 100,000 and 300,000 girls are enslaved and sold for sex in the United States every year. Millions more are sold for sex worldwide.
Those who sell them make billions of dollars. The average age for entry into prostitution is twelve years old. This means that even most women who are prostitutes, who often are looked down upon by society, are in reality survivors of child rape and abuse.
There are four factors that go into creating this sex industry here in America and worldwide:
1. The Traffickers – the pimps, the ones who sell the girls and who make a ton of money doing so.
2. Vulnerable people – the victims, the growing number of girls at risk to be forced, manipulated or coerced into the sex trade.
3. The Buyers – the men who buy the women.
4. A Society that looks the other way.
You could say these are four links in a chain that leads to the bondage of sex slavery. The question is, which links can we work on breaking to break the chains and set the captives free? Most of us can probably do little in regards to #1 and #2. Unless you work in law enforcement or in some social service, these two are outside your influence to a large degree.
But we can all do something about #3 and #4. Really, sex trafficking is about simple supply and demand. There is a demand because men want to buy women and girls to have sex with. If we make an effort to stop demand, we can begin to loosen the chains.
Last week at Penn State Berks we began asking men on campus to do what they can to stop demand. We simply asked men to take a stand, to commit to not buying girls. This was an idea that we borrowed from the Demi and Ashton Foundation. They did the same thing over a year ago, asking celebrities to have their picture taken holding a sign saying “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.”
Well, we may not have any Justin Timberlakes or Sean Penns at Penn State Berks, but we have a lot of men who eachhave a circle of influence. So we asked them to have their picture taken, holding the sign. These men are part of a movement to end the demand for sex trafficking. May more men step up and say with a loud voice that it is not cool to buy girls.
We did take it one step further than Demi and Ashton. As we engaged students throughout the day, we also brought up the connection between sex trafficking and pornography. Many survivors of sex trafficking have shared that not only were they forced to have sex, they were also forced to make pornography. Women who used to work in the porn industry often share stories of how they were forced and coerced to do things they had not signed up for. Every time you click on a porn site, even if it is “free”, you are increasing demand. You are voting with your computer that you want to see these things, even if more girls and women are abused to create the product
May we continue to work toward the day when there are no girls being sold because there is no demand.
If you want to see more pics of the men at PSU Berks, or if you want to learn more, follow Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved on Facebook.