Most states aren’t doing enough to curb child sex trafficking according to a new report by the advocacy group Shared Hope International. The study, prepared in partnership with the American Center for Law and Justice, graded all 50 states on the strength of their sex trafficking laws. States that protected minors and prosecuted traffickers received the highest grades. But more than half of states received grades of D or F.
Leading the states with grades of B were Texas, Missouri, Illinois and Washington. All received high marks for criminal provisions addressing demand and protective provisions for child victims.
Georgia ranked near the top as one of only six states receiving a C because of its comprehensive human trafficking law and laws combating commercial exploitation of children.
Every month, an estimated three to five hundred girls are being sold for sex in Georgia, according to a new fact sheet from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families. The Office monitors the problem and reports that girls as young as 12 are serving 10-15 men per night and sometimes up to 45 a night during periods of high demand, including sporting events and conventions. The fact sheet, which is released four times a year, is based on research done by Shared Hope International, The Shapiro Group and Citizens Against Trafficking. Researchers say girls who’ve been exploited often keep silent out of fear of physical and psychological abuse from their trafficker/pimp. Many are tattooed, branded or scarred, a method used by pimps to mark ownership and control over emotionally vulnerable girls, Citizens Against Trafficking reports.
The issue of child sex trafficking is becoming more pointed as new research comes out about the vastness of the problem. A heart-wrenching interview with a survivor of child trafficking came out during testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee last week:
When I was 12 years old, a guy I thought was just a “dope [cool] boy” kept following me in his car when I walked to school…eventually I got in the car with him. For a while we were girlfriend and boyfriend; we would go everywhere together. It didn’t take long before I experienced the real treatment— being beaten, stomped on, manipulated and sold all day every day. Shared Hope International, a non-profit committed to globally preventing and eradicating sex trafficking and slavery, testified to the Committee about the problem of child trafficking in the U.S.
Linda Smith, Founder and President, represented the organization and focused on the current issues in domestic child trafficking response.