National Human Trafficking Awareness Day: Help Make the Child Sex Trade History
More than one million children around the world are sold and sexually abused. The Body Shop is working hard to put an end to this criminal industry.
Be it a daughter, a sister, or the little boy next door, almost every single one of us has a precious young one in our lives. We keep a watchful eye over this child. We watch him or her grow and learn and discover.
Meanwhile, according to UNICEF, each year approximately 1.8 million innocent children just like the ones we know and love are trafficked in the global sex trade. They must face deplorable conditions, perform unspeakable acts, and suffer a lifetime of irreparable damage.
Today, January 11, known as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, marks a time for men and women to take a stand against the sexual exploitation of defenseless children and teens. In honor of this day of awareness, The Body Shop will hand over a petition with more than 720,000 American signatures to AG Rob McKenna, the President of the National Association of Attorneys General. Created with ECPAT USA and The Somaly Mam Foundation, The Body Shop’s petition is a powerful public stand against the sex trafficking industry.
“Many people I’ve encountered are under the impression that sex trafficking occurs far, far away,” Shelley Simmons, The Body Shop’s Director of Brand Values, told us in an exclusive interview. “In reality, this is occurring in virtually every country in the world. Since child sex trafficking was kept largely underground even just several years ago, it can be difficult to fathom the scope of it. When people learn the truth, reality strikes and they realize this is an issue that desperately needs their attention.”
The statistics only back up Simmons’ assertions. In the United States alone, a University of Pennsylvania study found that up to 300,000 young people were at risk of being sexually exploited. Worse, these victimized children can be arrested for prostitution in most states. And according to Shared Hope International, an organization committed to ending the sexual slavery of children, there are only about 100 beds for these victims in the entire nation.
“In the United States, the Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act has been signed into law in New York,” Simmons said. “Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington have enacted similar laws. Essentially, this means that we as a country have a long way to go. In most states, children victimized through sex trafficking are being picked up and arrested. These are minors –these are children –they should be rehabilitated and supported, not thrown in prison.”