By Ashantee Polk
My name is Ashantee Polk and I am 19 years old. I am currently a third year student at Los Angeles City College.
I know we have all heard at least ONE story about sex-trafficking this year and seems like it’s not getting any better. So what exactly is sex trafficking, and what is the ratio of black girls being sex trafficked compared to their counterparts? Sex trafficking has been going on for so long, but, now in 2022, it’s becoming worse than it was before. Two major things I want discuss today is what sex trafficking actually is, what to do if you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, and the resources for it. If you see something, say something. Help the problem, don’t be a part of it.
According to “Childwelfare.gov”, sex trafficking refers to criminal activity whereby one or more persons are subjected to engaging in commercial sexual activity through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. If the trafficked person is younger than age 18, the commercial sexual activity need not involve force, fraud, or coercion. There are many ways perpetrators use tactics to lure their victims.One of the main tactics used in today’s society is social media. It has been used as a way to recruit and control victims through restricting their social media access. Another popular tactic perpetrators use is false job advertisements. This tactic has been around for YEARS! Predators will post a “job advertisement”, then tell you to call the number to inquire for a job. This method seems crazy, and you’re probably even asking yourself, “why would anyone fall for that?” but in a world where everyone is hiring, this isn’t far fetched. Be careful before calling a suspicious number.
For young Black females, it isn’t easy being the victim. Not only are Black girls disproportionately exploited, they are also perceived as perpetrators. Forty percent of sex trafficking victims are Black. Overall, African Americans represent the highest population of sex trafficking victims. Black women are seen as prostitutes rather than young children being taken advantage of. The reason for this is because Black women are already seen as everything but human beings. Women in general are portrayed as objects and punching bags. And Black women specifically are viewed as “superwomen” who don’t feel pain. When Black women do cry out for help, it’s overlooked and not taken seriously. That is why it is important for everyone who has a platform and everyone who supports Black women to be the voice Black women need. Truth be told, we are never taken seriously.
It’s important to know what to do when you feel as if you are becoming a victim or know someone who is a victim. There are a few resources within our community that can help folks who are victims of sex trafficking or know someone who is a victim:
- The National Human Trafficking Hotline -Call 1-888-373-7888
- Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) 1-888-539-2373
- The Women’s Leadership Project – a Black feminist mentoring, civic engagement and service learning advocacy program.
- Enhancing Resiliency Among Trafficking Victims
- Treating the Hidden Wounds: Trauma Treatment and Mental Health Recovery for Victims of Human Trafficking