by Brooke Greene / Editor in Chief

Sex trafficking, a subject not talked about as much as it should be, or seen as threatening as it really is.

It has rumors and is vaguely discussed. What is sex trafficking? It is illegal transportation and kidnapping for the use of sexual exploitation, and it happens more than many realize. However, there have been recent efforts to target these sexual predators and keep the Hutchinson community, and children safer.

The Wayfair sex trafficking conspiracy got more of the younger generations involved in the idea of the crime and opened a lot of eyes to the danger. While it has not been proven that the conspiracy is true, it provoked conversation.

The concept behind it is that Wayfair, a furniture store, was selling cabinets, curtains, and pillows with names and numbers that often matched descriptions of missing persons and were posted for thousands of dollars. It aroused suspicion as there is no reason a basic cabinet should cost $17,000.

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz wrote in an email to The Arizona Republic as cited on azcentral.com, “I am happy that this story is interesting the public, but the victims are most likely not on Wayfair, they (are) right in front of us on 27th Avenue, in our local hotels, online on sex selling websites and dating sites.”

People were looking for insane coincidences to blame, but it really could be happening at the end of an average block.

According to Stopping Traffic, a nonprofit organization to help these victims, worldwide, 40.3 million people are sexually enslaved, thousands being in the United States. A one-year-old is the youngest victim of cybersex trafficking that they have met. Only 1% of victims survive or return home to their families, meaning 99% are never seen again. And 80% of survivors never receive any help with recovery from their experiences. This organization accepts donations and provides information on what sex trafficking entails.

There are red flags to watch out for to protect yourself and others, such as misleading posters and advertisements, uncomfortable dates or discussions from dating websites, frequent visitors to the same hotels, or obvious signs of physical abuse.

In any community, this could look like a suspicious flyer for a job. They often have no business logo, vague information and may be something along the lines of nanny work, lawn care, assisting the elderly, or dog walking.

If you are worried about a job application like this, look into it carefully before continuing. People involved in sex trafficking may not be in control of their own lives at that point, hence why their services continue. They could be involved to pay off debts, gain passports, freedom, shelter, or protection from other threats. These ‘workers’ are slaves, whether they voluntarily got involved or were forced in hopes of obtaining some form of freedom.

Many, however, never leave this work as they are not released, often held captive, shipped around, and sometimes killed once they are no longer useful.

If you know anybody who displays signs of being involved in human sex trafficking, report it right away. It could save others involved in the same chain.

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