Atlanta’s Human Trafficking Problem Is Getting Worse
Posted by Veneeta Danhoui
February 7, 2018
The other day I passed a field of pinwheels twirling silently in the Georgia wind, representing solidarity for human trafficking. Atlanta has one of the highest national rates of human trafficking in the country. The thriving, infamous city is also home to one of the busiest airports in the entire world, which is one reason why it is such an easy target for human trafficking.
Being in Atlanta for college has really made me realize the impending nature of this social justice and human rights issue. There are so many organizations and on-campus clubs dedicated to anti-sex trafficking as well as many events focusing on it. Human-trafficking campaigns are unique in that, so much of the time you cannot see what is happening—this is to say that sex trafficking usually happens right under our noses, which can fool a person into thinking that unless the signs of trafficking are blatantly being exhibited in front of them, it isn’t as big of a problem as people make it seem. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Human trafficking operates very discreetly and is a multi-million-dollar underground industry. People aren’t supposed to notice it is happening. Knowing the warning signs and working against them are vital for protecting the most vulnerable targets for this trade: children. Every time a child a child is abducted we fail the youth of Atlanta and the youth of America.
You see it in the movies—an old, crusty man very obviously dragging a little girl away and then hiding her in van filled with scared kids, who are then flown to a secret destination with no windows, a place where terrible things take place. But then, everything comes full circle when the main hero escapes and the criminals are quickly arrested or killed off. Despite this being the sub plot for virtually every other Lifetime movie, the reality is so much worse. These human trafficking stories are someone’s lived experiences and rarely work out that perfectly and are seriously traumatic in real life. Often times, the people luring victims away are children themselves. Human-trafficking deserves so much more of our attention than just a plot for a 90-minute televised film.
The average victim for sex trafficking can be a young girl from anywhere to eleven to fourteen years old. Goldie Taylor was thirteen years when she was abducted in Atlanta. After talking with a white girl she met on the MARTA who offered her a ride home, Goldie was drugged and lured her away to a hotel.
Atlanta officials adopt the conventional mantra “SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” hoping people stay on guard, looking for signs of misconduct and suspicious situations.
Traffickers target minors in heavily populated areas, from the busy, bustling airport to malls and street corners. They exploit these children and then use them to obtain even more recruits. Human trafficking is a terrible human rights violation that operates on a universal scale and brings in a staggering amount of income underground. So often, many of us Americans like to sit atop our high horses and focus on the problems of “the third world” as if we are the world example. Yet, the U.S. is currently completely submerged and quite frankly drowning in the vast sea of its problems and political warfare. The future? Doesn’t look good.
There are even such things as “Unholy tours” which take legislators to Atlanta’s most popular sex trafficking spots hoping to raise awareness about what truly requires more attention.
The phone number of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-(888)-373-7888. It is open 24/7 and also has a SMS function where you can text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may be in imminent danger: Call. Text. Be on the look-out and know the warning signs. Raise awareness and wonder why these issues aren’t getting the attention they desperately need and seriously deserve. Human-trafficking is very real and exists whether it is happening right in front of our faces or not. It is often the problems we cannot see that need us the most.
Image via Public Domain Pictures