The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that 73% of the 10,000 child sex-trafficking reports it receives per year involve internet advertising via Backpage.
Some 20 years ago, I was invited to a meeting to discuss “human-trafficking.” Held at the Salvation Army Center on D.C.’s New York Avenue, only 10–15 D.C. policy analysts were invited — feminists, conservatives, evangelicals, politicos — and none of us had previously heard of the term “trafficking.” That meeting, convened by Michael Horowitz, then at the Hudson Institute, opened our eyes to a problem that is now addressed at the national level as well as internationally through cooperation among nations, as a consequence in large measure of the diligent work of those whose eyes were opened that day.
Prior to that meeting, sex-trafficking was seen as something that happened somewhere else; it didn’t affect Americans. Besides, it was an “underground” kind of crime that was isolated and rare. Through Horowitz’s passion, we learned that we had been blind to reality. With our eyes opened, we had to do something!
I got involved by helping to draft the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), lobbying to get it passed, doing the same for subsequent reauthorizations, and providing manpower in the bipartisan coalition that Horowitz spearheaded to provide a foundation for anti-trafficking work that was so effective under the Bush 43 administration and that has flourished dramatically during the Trump administration through the leadership of Ivanka Trump Kushner.
While there is much to celebrate at the beginning of 2020 and during January — the National Human Trafficking Awareness Month — there is an overarching problem that has yet to be resolved. The “blind eye” problem remains an issue: people still don’t see what is happening right under their noses. Many Americans still think the issue of human-trafficking is other nations’ problem. Far too many people fail to see that trafficking victims exist in plain sight. They don’t realize that there are many children under 18 right here in the United States who are prime sex-trafficking victims. Many people are unaware that boys as well as girls are victims of sex-trafficking. Few people know that the National Human Trafficking Hotline receives an average of 150 calls per day. read more