Human trafficking generates about $32 billion annually, making it the second most profitable crime in the world. While Americans sit in their comfortable houses watching the news and hearing about all of the horrible things happening in other countries, it is easy to believe that nothing bad could happen in the United States. Many are unaware of the amount of people affected by sex trafficking right here and right now. Women all over our country are being taken, bought, and sold, with the same perverted intent, sex. But, it is not only women. In fact, over 100,000 US children are forcefully placed in prostitution or pornography each year. As sick men wait in line, menus are passed around giving them the opportunity to choose which woman they would like to indulge in.
Candace Shoemaker, is a senior at Southeastern University and has a passion for raising awareness about human trafficking. “One statistic states that 200,000-300,000 American children run the risk at being sexually exploited every year, and it breaks my heart that so many Americans do not realize that this occurs here,” said Shoemaker when asked about the most startling statistics on human trafficking.
Shoemaker encourages Christians to begin finding organizations that are already making a difference in the world of sex trafficking and get involved. “There are so many non-profits that exist,” she says, “such as Love146, Stop Child Trafficking Now, Redeem the Shadows, Scarlet Hope, S.O.A.P and more. They are looking for people who are passionate about the issue to help them fight human trafficking.”
Love146 states their vision as “the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation. Nothing less.” When asked their mission, the Vice President of Communications, Sarah Hine replied, “Abolition and Restoration! We combat child sex slavery & exploitation with the unexpected and restore survivors with excellence.”
The neat thing about Love146 is that they work towards the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation through prevention and aftercare solutions while contributing to the abolition movement.
Another organization that Shoemaker is passionate about is S.O.A.P. “It stands for Saving Our Adolescents from Prostitution and was started by a woman named Theresa Flores.” Shoemaker explained that Flores was a human trafficking victim when she was 15 years old in the United States. S.O.A.P. not only brings awareness to the crime of human trafficking, but it also addresses prevention and rehabilitation of victims as well. “It is truly making a difference in this fight” comments Shoemaker.
Many are not aware of the amount of human trafficking that goes on right here in the Tampa and Orlando area. Most are surprised to hear that Orlando, Tampa and Miami are the main transit points for human trafficking in the country. Staci Wolford, senior at Southeastern University finds herself speechless as she is told how close this hits to home. “I had no clue,” she said, “that is so devastating to me.”
Catherine Hill, also a senior at Southeastern University was aware of the problem here in Florida, but still finds it shocking. “I still can’t believe it’s so big in America,” she says, “it’s disgusting and so wrong. I just think of perversion.”
Many find these statistics startling and disgusting, but wonder what they can do to help. Shoemaker has hosted several events on Southeasterns campus that addressed the issue of sex trafficking. “A little over a year ago, Southeastern was very supportive of the events that I put on that addressed this issue, and were very welcoming towards the club that I started called No More Chains,” said Shoemaker. This year she hopes that Southeastern will be open and supportive of the events planned for the spring. Shoemaker has high hopes for raising awareness on this issue. “I would like to see more students and even faculty become more aware of this issue, and continue to fight for justice as the years go on.”