“Sex trafficking in your backyard” by Kristen Powers

In this recent article from USA Today, Kristen Powers writes about Minnesota, USA, which is one of the nation’s 13 largest centers for child sex trafficking. This is an excerpt from an article from USA Today.  The source of this article is http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/04/28/sex-trafficking-america-minnesota-children-column/8429699/

Image courtesy of USA Today.

Image courtesy of USA Today.

“Minnesota brings many things to mind — open prairies, 10,000 lakes and Midwestern values. Yet even in America’s heartland, the most wretched of crimes, human trafficking, is a growing menace.

Last year, the FBI identified Minnesota as one of the nation’s 13 largest centers for child sex trafficking. The Women’s Funding Network says that monthly, about 200 adolescents are sold for sex there through the Internet and escort services. In 2011, Minnesota courts hadnearly 400 trafficking-related convictions.

“People have to realize that this is the third biggest criminal enterprise in the world. Drugs, guns and then human trafficking,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told me last week. “It’s really happening, and it’s in (your) backyard.”

Earlier this year, a Minnesota man received a record 40-year sentence for trafficking women and girls for a decade. He and his family sold women and girls — one as young as 15 — on the Internet for sex and kept them trapped in a life authorities described as “slavery.”

This story is all too common. Nationwide, the number of trafficked children is a staggering 100,000 a year. Many grow into trafficked adults. The Associated Press reports that the California Attorney General’s office found that “72% of human-trafficking victims are Americans and not foreigners as many in the public believe.”

Klobuchar has emerged as a leader in fighting this scourge and has just returned from Mexico, where she discussed joint efforts to fight sex trafficking. She has also co-sponsored the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. It would require states to pass “safe harbor” legislation that provides victims with protective services and counseling rather than incarceration.”

This is a significantly shortened excerpt.  To read the full article, please visit http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/04/28/sex-trafficking-america-minnesota-children-column/8429699/

Kirsten Powers writes weekly for USA TODAY.