The reality of sex trafficking –– modern human slavery –– is a shock to most and reaffirming to others of the existence of some of the more ghastly aspects of the city of Atlanta. This city lies only about 40 minutes from KSU’s campus, yet another world can be uncovered once the “Hotlanta” phenomenon is overlooked. Atlanta Magazine named it “Sex City” as a result of the number of child slaves being exploited. These children, many under the age of 12, are captured and flown to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport from different countries and met by pimps. They are then reunited with their families to partake in their everyday activities that very night, as if nothing out of the ordinary had transpired.
Although many people have heard about human trafficking at some point, whether it was through word-of-mouth or popular films such as “Taken,” but what many fail to realize is that those scripts, written to make successful movies, are aligned with a frightening reality.
Most children have a dichotomy of being adored as well as the capability of being, well, difficult, but regardless of how they are perceived, I would never think that this would be a future for so many of them. It’s demoralizing. “But why?” was the recurring thought that ran through my mind when I became aware of this. Although there is no one answer for this, I continued to ponder. It’s extremely unlikely that these people, who participate in the black market business of harming individuals, haven’t ever encountered children before or that they haven’t ever had an emotional connection with someone. As humans, they are fully capable of feeling pain, even if they lack remorse. These individuals are looking for a power trip, and unfortunately 600,000 child prostitutes in the U.S. and Canada become victims to their repulsive and punishable behavior, as stated by A&E Investigative Reports.
As a natural reaction to the depth and discrepant nature of these crimes, hoping seems to be the only option, notwithstanding the constant rallying and campaigning for other issues where venturing out is expected, safe and viable. Kidnapping is already an issue on its own, but the buying and selling of people immensely escalates this problem to be centered on more than just safety. The world’s busiest airport, media relations, business negotiations, the World of Coke, The CNN center, The Georgia Aquarium and several other places in Atlanta all draw large crowds from many different parts of the world, which is reason enough to explain why it’s such a hub for that kind of activity. Even with the acknowledgement of the attributes of this city, it’s hard for me to fathom that while I’m simply enjoying a break from the suburbs, a little boy or girl is being forced against his or her will to perform sexual acts, suffering physical and emotional abuse. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry worldwide. A child is sold as a slave to sex every two minutes, according to Innocence Atlanta, a campaign whose aim lies in promoting the awareness of the issue of child trafficking in hopes of freeing victims, as well as reducing the occurrence of this crime.
Although everyone might not have the resources to donate or to counsel those suffering, being educated about the issue and bringing light to a problem that has always been under wraps can help prevent other children from winding up in the same situation. An understanding of this issue and its effects will make it easier for true victims, young and old, to not be thought of as voluntary prostitutes or criminals, but in fact helpless victims that are being mistreated right in our backyards.
Toni-Ann Hall, Freshman