Sex trafficking is modern day slavery that exists as a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry both Internationally and in the United States denying globally over 40.3 million people freedom. And, some of those people right here in New Orleans.
Why? Because New Orleans is home to the infamous Bourbon Street, festivals every day of the year, sporting events, and conventions all year long. In addition, it is connected to the world through ports, air travel, and multiple major interstates. All of these factors make New Orleans a hot bed for human trafficking.
Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will and the loss of one’s freedom. Some of the victims in New Orleans are here for particular events like Mardi Gras and the Sugar Bowl, while others work locally for long periods of time. All of them need to be free.
Exploitation is at the heart of human trafficking, particularly in our youth and has been said to be the most commonly overlooked, misunderstood, and unaddressed forms of child abuse in the United States – and New Orleans.
Victims of sex trafficking can be anyone from any socio-economic background. They can be US citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals. Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers, including runaway and homeless youth, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war or social discrimination. Our hearts are broken for all of them.
·In 2022, a reported 992 victims were served in Louisiana. Of the 992 victims served 662 were new victims. Juveniles in Louisiana accounted for 693 or (70%) of the victims reported; 296 (30%) were 18-years and over.
· Of the more than 25,000 cases of children reported missing to NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) in 2022 who had run away, 1 in 6 were likely victims of sex trafficking.
· Online sexual exploitation has contributed to the demand in sex trafficking. In 2022 the CyberTipline received 29,397,681 million reports, up from 21.7 the previous year. This includes child sexual abuse material, online enticement, child sexual molestation; as well as other images.
· According to the State Department, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the number of people at risk for human trafficking as traffickers took advantage of the social and economic crises created by the global outbreak. The pandemic also caused governments to divert resources away from anti-trafficking efforts, resulting in decreased protection efforts, and hinderances to investigations and prosecution of traffickers.
· Any child exploited through commercial sex who is 17 years of age or younger is a child sex trafficking victim.
· 90% of the perpetrators are people which are known and loved by the victims.
· The common age a child enters sex trafficking is 14-16 years old, due largely to the fact that they are too naïve to realize what is happening.
· Sex trafficking is nothing more than supply and demand; if there is no demand there would be no need of victims, this is basic economics.
· 80% of documented cases of human trafficking, from a UN study, are for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The United States was listed as the most common destination for victims.
You can see that the problem, both here at home and around the world, is massive. There’s much more that we could share with you (and we have on our Resources page) but you are probably here because you want to be part of the solution. We invite you to learn about our solutions: Awareness Education, Outreach Intervention, and Prayer Team. Before you leave, please be sure to explore how you can get involved. Thank you for visiting FreeNola.org.