In 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that there have been more than 100,000 sex slaves in the United States since 2001.
In 2009, the University of Pennsylvania estimated that nearly 300,000 youth in the United States were at risk of being sexually exploited.
According to the United Nations, there are more than 2.5 million people globally who are forced into labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time.
But human trafficking is not just something that happens to runaways and immigrants. One survivor is spreading the word that it is something that can happen in any ZIP code.
Theresa Flores, survivor and author of “The Slave Across the Street,” will share her story of trafficking and slavery at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Riney Fine Arts Center’s Sebits Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Due to the nature of this topic, the presentation may not be appropriate for children under the age of 13.
Flores was only 15 and living in an upper-middle class suburb of Detroit, Mich., when she was drugged, raped and tortured for two long years. Kept in bondage, she was forced to pay an impossible debt. All the while, Flores was living at home, attempting to keep her family safe. She attended school during the day along with her abusers, only to be called into service late each night while her unknowing family slept. Involuntarily caught up in a large criminal ring, Flores endured more as a child than most adults will ever face their entire lives.
“These guys are masters of coercion and trickery,” Flores says on the website TraffickFree.com. “They target the vulnerable and then use threats, manipulation and blackmail to force them into commercial sex and labor while they gain financially. It removes an individual’s freedom to choose, and the victims feel as if they have no other alternative.”
For more information on this event, please contact Friends University’s Student Affairs Office at 316-295-5832. For more information on human trafficking, visit traffickfree.com or contact the Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The-Lost.