Seattle is considered both a transit city and a destination of human trafficking. But how and where is the exchange happening?
“Really any public venue can be what we call a ‘facilitator’ for sex trafficking,” Phillip Martin, the National Director of compassion2one, an organization that works to rescue children from sexual exploitation. said. “A lot of the business professionals go to different countries to purchase these girls and go have their way with them, in a sense. But here, within Washington and Seattle, they’re used in strip clubs, massage parlors, nail shops, truck stops, rest areas, hotels, websites like backpage.com and Craigslist, and escort service websites.” Not to mention traditional street prostitution.
Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s neighborhoods where there is a higher rate of trafficking. Customers, or “Johns,” are average men from all walks of life, from businessmen and attorneys to coaches and counselors – the men who children are entrusted to everyday. Supply strives to meet demand, and so the base problem is men who buy.
In addition to rescuing victims and persecuting offenders, compassion2one’s other goals involve offering alternatives to predators, addressing the issue of demand, and making it unattractive for men to buy commercial sex.
Besides raising awareness, communities can get involved by learning to identify a victim and partnering with law enforcement, social service providers, and first responders. Another essential element to be improved upon is creating more safe homes that offer victims meals, clothing, healthcare evaluations, placement and after-care housing.
“Until we have a safe place for these girls to go, and more of them, they’re just going to end up in the same situation,” Martin said. That’s the Band-Aid. The real panacea is humans learning to respect and value other humans.
Learn more at Gina Biber’s The Capitol Hill Times article: Capitol Hill isn’t immune to sex trafficking.