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Atlanta's human trafficking crisis

child sex workers wait for customers in gang infested neighborhood
child sex workers wait for customers in gang infested neighborhood
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The city of Atlanta has a high rate of sexual exploitation due to its problem with ‘human trading’ making it known to the world as the 'human trafficking hub'. Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries worldwide. It has become so common that January has been declared as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This growing problem and rising awareness has many Atlanta organizations anxious to bring to the forefront the importance of saving trafficking victims.

Mary Frances Bowley is the Founder and Chief Strategic Officer of Wellspring Living, which is a nonprofit organization in Atlanta, Georgia that assist in helping human trafficking survivors reclaim their lives by providing shelter, education and counseling. Bowley asserts that:

"In Georgia, we know there's a range from 200-300 girls that are trafficked each month in our city. And tonight there will be 100 girls that will be exploited in metro Atlanta. So the numbers are huge."

There are an estimated 293,000 children at-risk for exploitation through organized prostitution within the United States each year. Statistics show that the most common age of entry into the sex industry is 12-14 years old. Often times, these children are runaways who are looking for the love that they are not receiving inside their own homes. As a result, predators take advantage of their vulnerability and know exactly what to say to quickly lure and enslave these children.

Trafficking victims are forced to sell their bodies an average of 8 and 12 times per night. Often, they are not allowed to keep any of their ‘earnings’ and are forced to live in sub-par conditions. Sometimes the victims are drugged to keep them awake, which allows for them to be able to ‘perform’ multiple times in a single night.

A possible reason for high trafficking rates in Atlanta is high tourism, its large international airport, numerous easily accessible interstate connections, and dense populations.

People should understand that underage sex trafficking is the buying and selling of America's own children…our children. In order to fight and end this war against sexual exploitation, we must create community awareness. "It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name – modern slavery," said President Barack Obama.

Wellspring Living is able to identify, engage with, and serve survivors of human trafficking. To learn how you can spread awareness, and end trafficking, visit Wellspring Living.

Georgia statistics on human trafficking

  • The FBI named Atlanta as one of 14 cities in the nation with the highest incidence of children exploited in prostitution.
  • Each month, approximately 300-500 girls are commercially sexually exploited throughout Georgia.
  • Atlanta is one of the top 5 cities for human trafficking
  • Atlanta is the top city for human trafficking of Hispanic females
  • On average, 100 juvenile girls are exploited each night in Georgia
  • 7,200 men pay for sex with adolescent females in Georgia each month