Reno depends on special events such as Hot August Nights and Street Vibrations to fill our hotel rooms and our gaming tables, but unfortunately these various events bring more than just car buffs and camera-laden tourists to our town.
At night after the action has closed up for the evening, some of the visitors seek out more than just drinks at our bars or action on our slot machines. They want sex, and there are pimps out there who are more than happy to oblige. Every year hundreds of girls are brought to the area to solicit sex from event participants, and although the police inevitably capture some of them, most slip in and slip out unnoticed.
Human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry in the world today. It is also the fastest growing. By 2017, it is estimated to become the largest. The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion a year.
When most people think of human trafficking, they think of women and children being smuggled across foreign borders from Third World countries and forced into sex rings or slave labor somewhere in some country America never thinks about. The sad truth is the sex trafficking of juveniles and young men and women is happening right here in our community, and it’s happening to our children.
Pimps target girls in schools and shopping malls, preying on the weak and those with low self-esteem. They shower them with gifts, or they offer them a “job” that requires no experience and pays a very strong wage. What they are really doing is coercing or tricking them into prostitution.
Once the pimps get these girls sucked into the sex trade, they use whatever it takes to keep them under control – drugs, beatings and death threats. Some force girls to work in strip clubs and escort services.
Sex trafficking is a serious and growing threat. Not only is it vastly underreported, it is misunderstood. It isn’t limited to the wrong side of the tracks; pimps are infiltrating the affluent suburbs where the girls are more naïve and unsuspecting. Unfortunately, many suffer from the delusion that it would never happen to our loved ones because “they come from a good family” or “they were raised properly.” Not so. Human trafficking affects every strata of society, and we must do something about it.
Thankfully, we have concerned citizens such as Assemblyman John Hambrick who have worked to address this issue with legislation that goes after the pimps financially. I applaud Hambrick for taking on this horrific crime, and it’s encouraging to know he will be working even more to strengthen Nevada’s laws in the next legislative session.
On the ground we have groups such as Awaken INC, a Christian human rights organization that seeks to combat sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children throughout Nevada. I interviewed the group’s founder, Melissa Holland, on a recent episode of my “Nevada Matters” radio show, and it was all I could do to keep my composure. This problem is real folks, and it’s right under our noses.
An estimated 400 women and children are trafficked each night here in Nevada, and we all must come together to stop this. Human trafficking can no longer be ignored. People like Holland and Hambrick are angels for doing what they do, but they can’t do it without our help.
Sean Cary is a local business owner, freelance writer, host of “Week in Review” heard on Fox News Radio 99.1 FM and pundit on the television show “Nevada Newsmakers.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blog at www.seancary.com.