Ugly Truth about Sex Trafficking in Green Bay

Danielle Lippert, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

When you mention slavery to someone, the first thing that pops up into his or her head is the enslavement of African-Americans in the early days of America. This immediately comes to mind, but no one thinks of the 4.5 million people in slavery today.

There are two types of slavery in today’s age: labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Just like everyone else, I thought that it wasn’t happening here. It’s happening in the Middle East, China and other places overseas, but there’s no way it’s happening right here in my city.

When I had to go to a talk on human sex trafficking, I didn’t want to go. Why should I learn about something that doesn’t concern me where I live? I was proven wrong in so many ways, and since that talk, I’ve looked at the world differently.

Before the talk, they gave us packets with information about human sex trafficking in Wisconsin. As I read through it, I was speechless. Why wasn’t I being taught about this when I’m around the target age and the target gender?

You can tell someone it’s happening in our city all you want, but no one will take it seriously until you give them an example. In October, 15 people were arrested in the Green Bay area who were involved in a national human sex trafficking ring. They found kids as young as two years old being sex trafficked. A two-year-old boy, who can barely walk or talk, was being sold for sex, right here in Green Bay.

I’ll say it again and again until everyone I know is aware of this issue. Why aren’t we being taught about this? After the talk I was given, I immediately got interested in sex trafficking. I sought out to learn everything I could about it.

The statistics made me more and more worried about this growing problem. Sex trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry after drugs. Sex trafficking is estimated to be over a billion dollar business, with Atlanta, Georgia, estimated to have $290 million of that price.

I also learned that only one to two percent of people who are human sex trafficked are saved. Since 2007, the human trafficking hotline has only received a little over 14,000 calls. That is a very small percentage of the 4.5 million people being sex-trafficked.

The target for sex traffickers is 12-to 14-year old girls, but that doesn’t mean that people outside of this range aren’t in danger. The “pimps” also target LGBTQ youth. It’s also not just low-income people who are targeted.

At the talk, we watched a video about Theresa Flores, who was sex trafficked at 15 years old in the early 1980s. She was part of a middle class, white, suburban family, and she lived in a gated neighborhood with her parents.

Flores was talking to a guy, and he offered to take her home that day. In the car, he said he had to stop home for something. She went inside with him, and he offered her a soda. Little did she know that the boy had drugged her soda.

After she was drugged, the boy raped her. A few days later at school, he pulled her aside and showed her pictures of him raping her, but since she was drugged, the pictures didn’t look like rape. The boy then told her that if she didn’t do what he and his cousins told her to do, the pictures would be all over the school.

Flores was then tricked into the sex-trafficking ring and was a part of it for two years. During the day, she seemed like a normal high school student, but at night, she was being sex trafficked.

Pimps constantly threaten the people they are trafficking. They beat them down so much where they truly believe that they are worthless. Pimps will threaten to kill them and even their families if they don’t do what the pimps say.

There are 4.5 million people going through this every day, and I didn’t know about this until three months ago.

Why wasn’t I being taught about this? This is happening all over the world and right in my own city, and I didn’t know. Everyone is talking about racism and sexism and everything between, but no one is talking about the millions of people who are having their bodies sold.

Did you know a local Green Bay organization, Eye Heart World, is building an after-care home for women who have just escaped or been rescued from sex-trafficking? Did you even know there was an organization in Green Bay helping sex-trafficking victims?

Ever since I heard Teresa Flores’s story and listened to the speakers talk about sex trafficking, it has been my personal mission to talk to people as much as possible until everyone realizes that human sex trafficking is alive and happening.

Spread the word. Do more research. Post on social media. Make sure everyone knows that this is a problem that we all need to know about. The more people who know, the more victims we can help.

Together we can abolish slavery in the 21st century. Before the civil war, slaves were about $40,000; now a slave is only $90. Let’s make humans priceless.