We know it is hard to believe, but sex trafficking is happening in Acadiana. Sex trafficking questions are not easy ones to answer, as we've learned through our Department of Justice. Unfortunately, many adults who are actually being trafficked do not identify themselves as victims. Like many survivors of sexual assault and abuse, they have formed a relationship with their abusers.
Perhaps the perpetrator is nice to her or buys her things she has never had before. Maybe he promises her a better life; maybe she has very few other options or has a drug habit that he supports. Many who want out of the situation have no idea where to go or that there are resources to help them. It is so important to bring awareness to the issue of sex trafficking, to make stricter penalties for those who traffic, to publicize hotline numbers and to provide funding to centers (such as Hearts of Hope) to support programs that help put survivors of sex trafficking on a path to help and healing.
Here are the recent sex trafficking cases in Louisiana:
A 2018 report on human trafficking released by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services showed a 77% increase in juvenile victims identified over the past year, including more than three times as many victims age 12 and younger, compared to 2016.
The number of reported adult trafficking victims also increased, rising more than 25% from 2016-2017. Another 56 confirmed or prospective victims were of unknown or unreported age.
Websites are often utilized by sex traffickers. In effort to eradicate human trafficking the federal government has seized the website "Backpage", the leading site for prostitution ads. President Trump signed the FOSTA bill that will allow victims of sex trafficking to file suit against online companies that knowingly facilitate the unlawful act. The personal section on Craigslist has been shutdown in efforts to stop human trafficking. For more on this story, click HERE
This information has been provided by Val Senegal, Education Director of Hearts of Hope.