Why should you care about juvenile sex trafficking in Minneapolis?

Note special event October 24, 2014 during Twin Cities Film Festival.

Read our full report on juvenile sex trafficking here

  1. It happens in our communities, in our city, in our state. Multiple sectors such as law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers, service providers, and other first responders witness juvenile sex trafficking in Minnesota. For example, in a nationwide FBI operation over a 3-week period in July 2013, the Minneapolis Police Department arrested 53 purchasers within its jurisdiction, which was more than any other agency anywhere in the U.S.
  2. The sex industry is fueled by power and money. Prostitution has a symbiotic relationship with other illegal activities such as drug and gun trafficking and gangs. Prostitution is estimated to be a $14.6 Billion Dollar underground economy that wastes resources and destroys lives.
  3. Men in and from our community are purchasing sex. Sex trafficking is a demand-driven industry. There is not a specific type of person who purchases sex. Purchasers belong to all ethnicities, races, ages, socioeconomic status, weight, and height. Recent research found that efforts to curb the demand are much more likely to engage men who have less experience in seeking prostitutes resulting in the most active and experienced customers being largely untouched.
  4. We all pay for it, if not as purchasers then as citizens. Taxpayer dollars pay for harms caused by sex trafficking, including physical injuries, mental health issues, homelessness, chemical dependency, unplanned pregnancy, criminal justice and court involvement, and/or the foster care system. Moreover, it impacts the economic vitality of neighborhoods, businesses and property values. A 2012 cost-benefit study conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota and Indiana show a savings of $34 tax dollars for every $1 invested in prevention models.
  5. It is a social justice issue. Prostitution and sex trafficking are strongly correlated with economics. Pimps’ and traffickers’ ability to exploit and involve women and children in selling sex is driven by poverty, so disproportionately affects poor and marginalized neighborhoods. Poverty, combined with a pervasive lack of social safety nets and deep-rooted gender discrimination against females, creates push and pull factors that encourage sex trade involvement.
  6. Sex trafficking targets our most vulnerable girls, boys and LGBTQ youth. The combination of youth gender, poverty and race increases children’s vulnerability to be sex trafficked. In addition, the institutions of family, government (foster care, shelters, rehabilitation centers), and community fail the youth and become the entry point into the business of sex trafficking. Research has found that common factors that make youth vulnerable to traffickers include neglect, abuse, poverty and homelessness.
  7. It damages life potential of youth. Involvement in sex trafficking reduces ability of youth to actualize their full earning and personal potential because of lower educational attainments, physical and mental health issues, drug addiction, criminal records and a lack of employable skills.
  8. The trafficker is the big bad wolf posing as grandma. Sex traffickers are charming and manipulative in bringing vulnerable youth under their control. First, they pretend to love, offer gifts and advantages and later use violence and psychological threats to control their victims. Traffickers convince the young person that prostitution is a viable lifestyle for them that offers income and economic independence and they relentlessly reinforce this 24 hours /7days a week. When the trafficker is especially skilled in manipulation, the victims may have never seen him/her as a trafficker but as someone who truly cares for them (e.g. my boyfriend).
  9. The online sex trade traffics children from anywhere, including from their own homes. The internet facilitates easy entry in the market for everyone by offering anonymity, ease of navigation and minimal regulations. The amount of personal information the youth voluntarily share online (e.g. social networking sites such as facebook) makes it easy for traffickers to identify, persuade and track their victims.

Authors: Ana Isabel Gabilondo & Girija Tulpule