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Sedona Vice Mayor Martinez discusses sex trafficking in America

Article submitted by the city of Sedona and written by Vice Mayor John Martinez.

Sedona AZ – See Something, Say something!

Before I begin my City Talk article about something that I am deeply passionate about, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and plans for a Happy New Year.

My subject is about sex and human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain, and sex trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to recruit, harbor, transport or obtain a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act.

According to the United Nations, the growth rate of human and sex trafficking surpasses all other forms of illegal enterprise. It is a $150 billion business; that’s right; I wrote billions with a B. Sixty-six percent is sex trafficking. There are more than 27 million slaves in the world today, more than any other time in history.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 80 percent of children involved in sex trafficking in the United States are citizens. One out of three teens on the street will be lured into the “life” of sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home. According to Shared Hope International and the organization TRUST (Training and Resources United to Stop Trafficking), these kids are often rented for sex acts with 20 to 30 different men per night, seven nights a week, for an average of 5 to 7 years, when unfortunately many perish after such abuse.

In addition, the sex traffickers make on average $175,000 per child each year. Arizona has documented children being forced into this trade with an average age of 14 and some as young as eight. Know this could be your daughter, your son, or any loved one.

It is the vulnerable (homeless, runaway, bullied, abused, foster children) who are most at risk. Even those teens who are confident and self-assured are also at risk.

The warning signs that your child, niece or nephew is possibly under the spell of a sex trafficker are as follows: older boyfriend, tattoos or branding, expensive items (jewelry, clothes), vocabulary, isolation, or signs of abuse. Parents learn the warning signs, know the social networks and apps your children are using, monitor your child’s online friends, discourage posting selfies, and turn off geo-locations features.

Much progress has been made to combat sex and human trafficking, primarily in the area of awareness and education. Many independent films addressing this subject have been shown at the Sedona International Film Festival. The organization that I am involved with has made 46 presentations to various organizations since September 2016. Our organization’s president has written a manual for protocol and training being used by local law enforcement. Truckers and Biker groups have joined the effort to combat this evil operation.

In April 2018 federal legislation (FOSTA/SESTA) removed immunity for websites hosting illegal content.

January is nationally designated as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. On Jan. 14, 2020, at 4 p.m., our local Coalition Against Human Trafficking-Northern AZ, of which I’m a member, is presenting a film at Mary D. Fisher Theater on State Route 89A. Sedona International Film Festival is helping to support this event. The film is a Frontline Production entitled “Sex Trafficking in America.” It tells stories of young women coerced into prostitution and follows a police unit committed to eliminating sex trafficking. Please support this group and consider joining our activities. The coalition asks for donations to help spread the awareness of this horrible crime, and to present trainings to our children about how to avoid being trafficked.

I’m sure you are asking how I can help or become involved? Please observe and listen. Know the warning signs, educate your children, nieces and nephews about predators. Help the Collation Against Human Trafficking-Northern Arizona with donations or volunteering your time. Attend the free presentations the coalition offers to schools, churches, organizations and social groups.

Report suspicious events/people to the Sedona Police Department at (928) 282-3100, or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. Remember: If you see something, say something.

The website for the chapter of Coalition Against Human Trafficking – Northern AZ is www.CAHT-NAZ.org, the link to the Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/CAHT.NAZ/ or email us at caht.naz@gmail.com.

This article submitted by the city of Sedona with the following disclaimer: The views that I am expressing are my personal opinions and not necessarily the opinions or positions of the city of Sedona or Sedona City Council.

1 Comment

  1. Stefany says:

    What’s going on in America
    Mary Fisher Theater, January 7th
    4PM and 7PM

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