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Pornography and Sex Trafficking



In a modest home on the East Coast, a mother sold her six-year-old daughter, Liz, into the sex industry to make money from her child pornography footage. Eventually after 17 years of being sold for photos or to other men, she was able to break free due to Courage Worldwide, a 501c3 nonprofit that builds "Courage Houses" for children who have been rescued from sex trafficking.


Pornography might seem harmless, and a person might say, “I am just on my computer looking at porn, and I am not hurting anyone else.” Unfortunately, the connection between internet pornography and human trafficking is clear and the consequences are severe for adults and especially children. Adults and children are being abused, and then the footage of that abuse is sold for distribution.


Although this kind of abuse or distribution is illegal in the United States, child pornography or more recently called, Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), is widely circulated. Although it is an issue globally, “the United States remains one of the largest producers and consumers of child abuse content in the world” (Thorn, 2022).


The most alarming of this kind of material is that it victimizes children over and over again as it is shared with others (Thorn, 2022). Those who have been abused have a hard time putting an end to their humiliation and traumatization. The footage of their abuse is hard to fully recover, and victims can suffer for years.


You might wonder, “but is this trafficking really that common?” According to the FBI, they warn that it is more common than we want to believe. FBI Director Christopher Wray said, "Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters. Unfortunately, such crimes—against both adults and children—are far more common than most people realize” (The US Department of Justice, 2022). The FBI and their partners are working to not only arrest traffickers but raise awareness to vulnerable populations. According to the Global Slavery Index, more than 400,000 people are currently trapped, and it is not just in dark alleys, but on social media, farms, stores and more than likely in your community.


With these alarming statistics, it may need to be reassessed whether pornography is a harmless pastime. We need to have these hard conversations in our own families and communities and raise awareness to those around us. When the average age of trafficking victims is 12.8 years old, there needs to be a louder discussion about how we can protect our children and stop pornography distribution (Thorn.org, 2018). Most people do not want to talk about these things, but it is time to talk, to listen and to take a stand. Are you willing to have his hard conversation?


References


The US Department of Justice. (2022, August 15). FBI Announces Results of Nationwide Sex Trafficking Operation. [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/fbi-announces-results-nationwide-sex-trafficking-operation


Thorn. (2022, September 6). Child pornography is sexual abuse material. Retrieved from Thorn.org: https://www.thorn.org/child-pornography-and-abuse-statistics/


Thorn.org. (2018, January). Survivor Insignts. Retrieved from Thorn.org: http://www.thorn.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Thorn_Survivor_Insights_012918.pdf


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