As the night wound down, everyone got quiet. The impact of seeing dozens and dozens of girls –– not women, girls! –– who are old before their time was sobering and maddening. My outrage overpowered my despair at seeing those girls’ plight. We saw police officers on every street –– doing nothing about the scene they were observing. Yet, we could drive no faster than 5 mph because the traffic was so thick; on some streets there were two lanes of cars creeping past the lines of girls. We could see inside some of the sleazy dives where even more girls were servicing the johns.
How tragic that most Americans are where I was 10 years ago; they don’t know about trafficking in persons. They don’t know about modern day slavery.
Yet, the number of children and women who are sex slaves today is greater than the number of 19th century slaves.
Sadly too, all our heroic efforts today cannot keep up with the demand for prostitutes, therefore, the evil of trafficking is escalating faster than we can stop it. But, the United States is leading the way in gaining the world-wide, cooperative teamwork among nations that is necessary in order to address this international embarrassment and stop the world-wide criminal networks that lure the victims into their control. By correctly identifying the practice as modern day slavery and by correctly pointing to the “demand” for prostitutes as the root cause for the escalating numbers of victims, we abolitionists have created a whole new climate that is hostile toward trafficking in persons.
I’m proud to be among those at the forefront –– to be a modern day abolitionist. Now, the fight is very personal for me. I see the face of one teenage girl in that long line of victims on a Mexico City street. The others turned away when they saw women in the car, but she looked right at me with hardened eyes that had lost all hope. I’m convinced that she didn’t see anything; she just blocked out everything around and in front of her. Her face haunts me; her face is, for me, the face of sex trafficking. That’s why I am so passionate about the evil of sex slavery; somebody has to rescue girls like her.
I also see Ellen’s face and her hope for being rescued and restored. I saw her on my most recent trip to Mexico; she is in counseling to heal the emotional trauma that she has experienced. Also, she is working at a jewelry kiosk in a mall. She is saving money so that she can own her own kiosk. She is happy to be free. I want all the victims to end up rescued like Ellen; I want the enslavement to stop.
There are over half a million new sex trafficking victims every year. Their faces are just as haunting as that girl on the street in Mexico City. That’s why I am an abolitionist!