Letter to the editor: La Crosse task force offers facts on sex trafficking

By DENA EAKLES | Ontario

During a recent event held by Pax Christi in Viroqua, Sr. Marlene Weisenbeck of the La Crosse Task Force to Eradicate Modern Slavery introduced some very interesting facts.

Sex trafficking is not only those kidnapped and held as sex-slaves. Girls, boys and women are targeted by handlers seeking to profit from their exploitation as prostitutes, often right in our midst. These profiteers seek children who are runaways or those in need of physical or emotional support. They prey upon the vulnerable. In some cases, the profiteers are family members.

This business of seduction and entrapment of human flesh for profit is not limited to sex, but also includes labor servitude, drug trafficking and the stealing of body parts. While it is estimated that 45.8 million human beings are currently enslaved, 63 percent are held for forced sexual prostitution.

Where are the hot spots for sex and drug trafficking? Interstate highways, man camps, shipping ports and recreational places where children like to frequent — such as waterparks — have been found convenient for this trade.

This business, dubbed by Pope Francis as the “merchandising in human flesh,” is one of the biggest moneymakers in the world. Could this be a reason it seems so illusive to law enforcement? Or could it be that we have looked the other way, as the estimated one out of every seven men engaging in the purchasing of illegal sex may be our fathers, brothers, or sons? Or perhaps because it is found that many of these perpetrators work in professions of “trust” and are people of authority and power?

Wisconsin is about to pass a law indicating that minors (under 18) are always victims in these crimes — hopefully this will end the nightmare of children being treated as criminals and may allow us to address the abuses of power and economic statuses afforded men in our patriarchal system. Most importantly, it may get help to the victims they so desperately need, instead of more imprisonment.

This is not a time for silence. All of us are suffering in this abuse, all of us.

See something suspicious? 1-888-3737-888 is the number of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. To learn more from the La Crosse Task Force: http://www.fspa.org/content/ministries/justice-peace/human-trafficking.

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