This is a guest post from one of our guests today, FAIR Girls executive director Andrea Powell, written prior to her appearance today.
Human trafficking isn’t something that happens "over there." I know this because as co-founding Executive Director of FAIR Girls, I spend my days side by side with girls from all over America who have been bought and sold like commodities. FAIR Girls helps hundreds of victimized girls each year become safe, healthy, and restored survivors.
This should be a central issue this election season, and one that every voter knows and cares about. Human trafficking knows no boundaries. A girl can be trafficked right out of her own home, school, or neighborhood.
There are 100,000 girls and boys at risk toward trafficking right now in America. There are between 14,000 and 20,000 foreign victims of labor trafficking, including domestic servitude, who are also victims of trafficking brought into the United States annually. This issue affects all of us on a daily basis.
Here are some warning signs that someone you know may be in a trafficking situation:
- Unexplained absences from school
- Frequent disappearances from home/running away
- Sudden presence of an older boyfriend of girlfriend
- Isolation and seemingly uninterested in friends and family
- Unexplained bruises
- Scripted behavior or speech
- Unexplained cash or new things that they can not normally afford
- Excessive hotel keys or cash in wallet
- Planning a trip to work or travel somewhere with someone they barely know
There are so many ways that you can help a victim of trafficking become a survivor! Please consider connecting to FAIR Girls or another local nonprofit serving victims of trafficking in your area. Consider hosting fundraising drives for clothing (including interview clothes for jobs), basic toiletries, bedding, and even school books.
The number of girls who FAIR Girls serves has more than doubled from a year ago. I believe that this is directly related to the unregulated and vastly growing marketplace of Backpage.com, My Redbook, and other online classified advertising web sites where pimps advertise their often very young victims.
As I write this, I have received three text messages from girls in FAIR Girls program, including 12-year-old Kristie, who wrote to me saying, “Good luck this morning. Love ya.” These are real girls, and we need to prove to them that they are truly going to get the attention and care they need from the federal government all the way down to each individual who reads this post.
Watch today's discussion about sex trafficking -- one segment below, and the other after the jump.
President Obama spoke before the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, in a speech that he devoted entirely to the issue of human trafficking. Asia Graves, who was a victim of sex trafficking, and Andrea Powell of Fair Girls, join Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss.
Melissa Harris-Perry covers how sex trafficking has been more pervasive thanks in part to online websites like Backpage.com that provide a venue for underaged women and children to be sold for sex.