There are many upsetting stories happening right now in the world of addiction. Stories that people may not like to face, but are still important to broadcast to the world. One such story has to do with the rise of U.S. Sex Trafficking and how dependencies have helped fuel this dangerous trend. This week several news outlets and U.S. politicians have helped bring this issue to the forefront, which we wholeheartedly support.
Research has recently shown that drugs were involved in nearly 40 percent of U.S. child sex trafficking cases. It’s an awful scenario to consider, but it’s happening every day as young girls find themselves hooked on substances and lured into prostitution.
According to a 2016 Human Trafficking Report, the majority of these girls are between the ages of 15 to 17. But these types of addiction cases can start as early as age nine, per the data. One of the more disturbing findings was that their traffickers (or “buyers”) keep the money they pimp the victims out for. In the end, the girls are rewarded with hard drugs to further their dependencies and mentally abused into continuing the lifestyle. Addicted teen runaways are also prime targets for the traffickers.
Several survivors of this abuse have been speaking with the press. They openly admitted that it was their addictions that drew them into the trafficking underworld. Thankfully police have begun into intervene much more frequently and now, many of the young women who have escaped are becoming recovery advocates and warning others.
“Our lives matter too,” addiction and trafficking survivor Angela Renfro told Ohio outlet WCPO. “And we’re not bad people. We just got in a bad situation.”
Speaking of Ohio, that happens to be a region where America’s opioid crisis is wreaking the most havoc. In more recent months, there have been more stats pointing to painkiller addictions and their role in the state’s growing sex trafficking cases. Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have decided to speak out about the epidemic and are sponsoring a new bill which hopes to make a difference.
The Protecting Rights of Those Exploited by Coercive Trafficking, or PROTECT Act, aims to add additional drug charges to buyers caught prostituting victims. Harsher sentences would potentially be imposed as well; keeping these traffickers off the streets for a longer period of time, while also addressing the addiction component.
“It’s a terrible mix of addiction and human trafficking and sale of drugs and sale of human beings,” Senator Brown told the media. “I am working on a bipartisan bill to deal with this terrible intersection of of sex trafficking and opioid addiction.”