Abbi Kissee

Beginning in 2010 the month of January has been designated National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and January 11 is observed annually for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

The Stanisalus County Family Justice Center and Without Permission put on the documentary film “Tricked” on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at the State Theatre of Modesto. Tricked shed light on commercial sexual exploitation of young girls. Throughout the documentary there were several stories from girls who lived the life of human trafficking. They live everyday with the memories of not just selling their bodies but being harmed by the one they thought cared. This film showed the lives of girls in Denver, Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada.

What is commercial sexual exploitation? It is a problem that happens everywhere, and could even be happening close to home. Commercial sexual exploitation is sexual abuse of a minor for economic gain which could be prostitution, stripping, or even pornography.

Who are most targeted victims? Pimps usually seek out defenseless victims, usually runaways or children having trouble at home. These children usually have emotional and physical needs they notice and are not being met so they use it to their advantage.  Pimps will create loving and caring relationships with these kids to build their trust. These relationships can start not just in person but online as well before they turn to real life encounters. The pimps will provide gifts, places to stay and loving relationships before they reveal their true intent. Victims don’t realize what is going on they just see their pimp as a caretaker and or boyfriend.

Juvenile victims are often controlled by threats of violence to family, images taken and used as blackmail, physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Victims are often taught to not trust law enforcement and will often stay with their pimps for fear of being physically harmed.

During a three day operation to fight human trafficking starting on January 26, 2017, it included 18 law enforcement agencies across the state of California where there was a total of 474 arrests. Those arrests included 142 males for solicitation, 36 males on suspicion of pimping and 238 women for prostitution. They were also able to rescue 28 commercially and sexually exploited children and 27 adult female victims. This was part of their third annual “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild” enforcement operation.