It’s the scourge around the corner, in the house down the street – or even in our own families.
Women and girls (and, less frequently, even men and boys) reduced to sexual chattel, bought and sold for their bodies and deprived, day after day, of fundamental freedoms.
Free Press editorial cartoonist Mike Thompson brings the horror of sex-trafficking to life in an animated documentary on the subject, which appeared at Freep.com on Monday, Dec. 21 and will run in the print edition on Sunday, Dec. 27.
The work does many things well, but importantly, it trains focus on two important truths: what sex trafficking is, and how ordinary citizens can help fight it.
You can be forgiven if the phrase “sex trafficking,” leaves you thinking only of young women stuffed in truck trailers being carted around the country in prostitution rings. No doubt, that happens.
But as Thompson’s work highlights, it’s far more common than that. Indeed, any instance in which a person is forced or coerced into sexual activity for money, it’s trafficking. And the geographic dimensions of it don’t matter. Many trafficking victims never leave their own homes, as “D.,” one of the women in Thompson’s animated documentary, points up. She says she was first victimized by a brother-in-law. That person also forced her into sexual situations with other men – all in the home where she lived.
It’s also important to note that D.’s story begins when she is 14 – a child, unable to legally give consent for any sexual activity. A Department of Justice analysis of more than 2,500 reported trafficking cases between 2008 and 2010 showed that more than 40% of victims were children.
It is estimated that the average age of trafficked children is 11 to 14.
Thompson’s work also calls us all to more action with regard to human trafficking, and defines the ways that vigilance can pay off.
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