North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the nation. For those of us who live here, this is no surprise. Nestled between the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the endless miles of coastline are the rolling hills of the Piedmont. We have world-class universities, hospitals, and research facilities. North Carolina boasts some of the best barbecue in the country, and between November and March of every year, an epic battle between good and evil plays out on our colleges' basketball courts.
But underneath all the long-leaf pines lies a darker secret. North Carolina is also one of the fastest growing states in the nation for sex trafficking. In fact, North Carolina has been ranked among the top 8 sites for human trafficking in the country. The state has several major interstates and multiple international airports, as well as a large and growing immigrant population, who are often targeted as victims.
Worldwide, there are more slaves right now than at any other time in history, and 80% of these men, women, and children are trapped in the sex industry. As many as 18,000 people are drafted into slavery in the U.S. each year.
In Greensboro in 2007, Levar Simms found a 16-year old girl standing outside a juvenile shelter. He took her and locked her in a room until she agreed to prostitute for him. She was transported to D.C. and advertised on craigslist for "erotic services."
In April of 2009, a man was found guilty of operating a sex trade between Charlotte and Washington.
In June of 2009, a Duke University official was charged with trafficking a 5-year old boy for sex.
Sex trafficking isn't just a problem that exists "over there," in remote parts of the world. And it isn't just a problem affecting the biggest cities in the country. There are men, women, and children in our own backyard who are victims of the sex trade, who desperately need people to give them a voice and advocate for their freedom and restoration.
Throughout August, I'll be highlighting some of the amazing organizations who are doing just that across the country, as well as ways you can help.