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Local Women Get Together to Raise Awareness on Sex-Trafficking

Created: 03/15/2014 10:57 PM KAALtv.com
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- Some consider it as slavery of the modern age. Experts say human and sex trafficking accounts for the imprisonment of over 27 million men, but primarily women and children, worldwide. The Urban Institute, an economic research group, has released new information on several U.S. cities on the scale of profits generated from trafficking.

     There's a global profit of about 32 billion dollars from human trafficking. Most of that money comes from forced sexual exploitation. Becoming a part of the sex trade at a young age is hardly unheard of, especially for women.

     "What do we think of when we think of the word beauty?," said Nancy Dockter. Dockter is a Women's Ministry Director for Christ Community Church in Rochester. She organized an informational forum on the topic Saturday morning.

     The word "beauty" was brought up during the forum. The meaning can become twisted for girls, especially for those who become commodities through the sex trade. It's a quiet topic, but the numbers paint an alarming picture, even in Minnesota.

     "213 girls are being sold into sex trafficking on a monthly basis and four to six times a day," said Kim Berschletty, a representative from resource group Mission 21. "Those numbers are only for the state of Minnesota. It's a worldwide issue."

     Berschletty was the keynote speaker at the event. She described how the internet and new technologies are giving the industry a different definition in today's world.

     "Here in Rochester, you're not going to walk down a street and see some girls out there flaunting themselves," said Berschletty. "What you are going to see is a website called Backpage.com."

    Prostitution is decreasing on the street, but thriving online. Pimps or sex workers, will post on Websites like Backpage.com, or even Craiglist. Often times these services are labeled as "escorts."

     "We're not done with it. It hasn't gone away. It's actually a bigger issue today than any other period of history," said Berschletty.

     Anyone who has been sexually exploited in the past, or who is currently going through it now, is encouraged to take advantage of offered services and support from Mission 21, a local resource group in Rochester. 

Local women get together to raise awareness on sex-trafficking and the hundreds of Minnesotans it victimizes.