There are currently 800,000 incidents of human sex trafficking in the world. Out of that number, more than 100,000 who are trafficked into the U.S. range from age 9 to 19 years old with the average age of 11.
Eighty percent of those are women and children.
Human sex trafficking is the contracting, conveying, or acquiring of a person by enforcement, blackmail or threat for the use of commercial sex acts.
UMHB alumni Rhonda and Kathlee Roscoe are sisters and are the founders of Hope for the Sex Trafficked. In association with Hope for the Hungry, they are creating a film project centered on the problem of sexual bondage through human persecution and sex slavery in the U.S.
“It is the fastest growing crime in the world,” Kathlee said. “It is also the number two organized crime in the world, behind drugs.”
Rhonda said wealthier countries are the demand, and poorer countries are the supply.
“All sides are affected,” she said. “People who organize the trafficking lie to the people about jobs and then put them into sex slavery.”
Hope for the Sex Trafficked has currently completed 70 hours of film research from Japan, Australia, Thailand and California. The sites have traveled into red-light districts, slums and other areas where sex tourism is excessive. They are working with experts and leaders who are fighting against sex trafficking and who can give hope to the enslaved.
“The people who are experiencing this are being physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually abused,” Rhonda said. “People are paying people to destroy others.”
The Roscoe sisters are currently traveling throughout the U.S. to bring awareness of the issue to the nation. They spoke about it to students, telling them what they can do to help on Jan. 20 during chapel.
University Chaplain Dr. George Loutherback invited the sisters to speak because he thinks they have a done a great job at bringing awareness to the topic through their documentary.
“I wanted our student body to be aware of the problem,” Loutherback said. “It’s one of those situations that isn’t talked about as much. We don’t know much about it, but it is an issue. It’s even as close as Austin.”
Kathlee said strip clubs, pornography and prostitution drive the business.
“They suggest it is OK to consume another person for pleasure’s sake,” she said. “They are the gateway to human trafficking.”
The sisters encouraged women in the audience not to tempt men, but dress humbly and graciously. They challenged men to control their minds about sex in our hyper-sexualized culture.
“Honor yourself and God by filling your calling as a woman in Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5:16,” Rhonda said.
The activists also asked the audience not to endorse products that exploit sex in their advertising or watch entertainment that glorifies sex.
She said, “Stores such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, Guess and American Apparel display naked models in their ads buying their products are encouraging you to become an object. Also, protect your mind from shows such as Sex and the City.”
Loutherback said human traffi cking is such a secretive issue that people don’t know how bad it is.
“After talking with them and hearing what’s going on with the way young ladies are brought into our country and marketed as if they’re merchandise, just really offended me,” he said.
Not only do the Roscoes raise awareness of the issue, they encourage people to take action about what they know.
“It makes me want to take a stand wherever I can,” Loutherback said. “It is a problem, and I want to be a part of the solution if I can.”
The sisters said they currently have opportunities for volunteers to get involved and are hiring interns. For more information, visit www.hopeforthesextrafficked.org.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” Rhonda said. “If you notice anything suspicious relating to sex trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. Protection starts now.”