- USA is the #1 destination for Americans who seek to have sex with children
- There are over 636,000 registered sex offenders in the USA
- Child marriage is legal in 20 countries, and 15 million girls will be sold as brides before they are 18
- Trafficking is a $99 billion industry
- The sexual exploitation of children is driven by the Internet
- In the Bolivian context, human trafficking has increased 900% in the past nine years
This is a small list of the harsh truths of human trafficking shared at one of the first panel sessions of the 60th NGO Commission on the Status of Women (NGO CSW) Forum on March 15, 2016. The panel was titled “What Will It Take to END Human Trafficking? The Role Media Plays & A Rarely Heard Voice from the Trafficker’s Perspective,” sponsored by Pathways to Peace, The Fyera Foundation, and Operation Big Sister, as well as panelists from The Nest Foundation, Media Impact, and GWEN.
“Where drugs are being sold, children are being sold,” one of the panelists remarked. This reality is incomprehensible, yet it exists. Another panelist reflected on her position in the world, growing up in the United States, middle class, well and highly educated. In her experience, she was under the impression that we, here in the USA, have achieved almost full gender equality. Her first experience at the NGO CSW Forum three years ago changed her understanding. As it very well did many conference participants attending the panel. It brought her here, three years later, leading NGOs and advocating for the end of human trafficking.
Recognizing the role media has to play in perpetuating the human trafficking industry across the world, the panelists urged us, as members of civil society, to be the “hands and feet of policy makers,” and transform the media we create. The only way to change the status of women, it was stated, is to change the perceptions of boys and men.
Upon finishing this blog, Google image search “women in advertising.” Reflect on what populates on your browser.