Human Trafficking: You Have Probably Seen the Signs

by: Shenandoah LaRock and Jon Watts

“Earn $500 dollars a week!”

“Make money while traveling! Call 881-235-0978”

These signs are usually yellow or white poster boards that look like something your mom made for your yard sale. Wouldn’t it be nice to make five hundred dollars a week or get paid for not doing anything at all? There is no other description except the money and the number. Sometimes there will be a first name, someone to ask for when you call. Often times they use a name that implies that they are a woman because generally, people are more likely to trust women instead of men.

This is how sex traffickers lure you in.

If you call this number it may seem legitimate. They will probably try to convince you to meet them somewhere.

Do not. This is an elaborate ploy for sex traffickers to abduct their victims. A common misconception about sex trafficking is that it’s only a problem in major U.S. cities. The dark reality is that sex trafficking is everywhere. Iyanna Jame’s essay, “Human Trafficking: ‘Close to home” suggests that “The young female students without an adequate home, no close family, far friends, and a long distance support system make an ideal target for sex slavery.” I have seen these signs on UWM’s campus. Signs promising thousands of dollars for a paid internship signs offering jobs that pay hundreds a week. These are all sick ploys designed to attract the poor college student. If you see these signs, tear them down if you can. Let your friends and family members know not to fall into the trap.  Remember that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is a scam.

College students aren’t the only targets for sex traffickers. Unlucky 13 (2012) is an organization through the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee. Unlucky 13 estimates that 13 years old is the average age of those trafficked in the United States. Ninety-two percent of the trafficked youth identified as women, suggesting that human trafficking is primarily a form of gender-based violence. In Wisconsin, seventy-nine percent of all human trafficking cases reported occurs in the city of Milwaukee. According to Unlucky 13, seventy-eight percent of trafficked youth identify as black and African American. This shows that human trafficking in Milwaukee is as much of a racial issue as it is gender.

If you suspect that someone you know may be a victim of sex trafficking, seek advocacy. There are numerous organizations in Milwaukee that are dedicated to the aid and protection of survivors. The Sojourner Family Peace Center is a safe and secure refuge for survivors by supplying free advocacy and shelter. Additionally, there are Pathfinders, which specializes in providing advocacy and shelter specifically for youth. To find a full list of organizations, visit the link below: