It seems like human trafficking never ends - what are we doing about it?


Seems like human trafficking never ends.  But who would have thought it was occurring in our very own back yard in Western MA?  Headlines from a local news report highlight the ongoing problem in our community:

4 Arrested, 10 Victims Found in Western Mass Human Trafficking Investigation

Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office led an extensive multi-state investigation into two human trafficking operations that involved “massage parlors” in western Massachusetts. According to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office, local, state and federal agencies from both Massachusetts and New York worked together to take down the human trafficking operation. Four people were arrested and ten victims were found.
— Joel Martinez,

I have worked with many teenage girls and women into their 20's and 30's, in Boston and beyond, and it’s still difficult to wrap my head around the enormity of the epidemic of sexual exploitation.  It’s right in our back yard and the truth is that young girls are sometimes forced into this by their families or become vulnerable after they are kicked out of their homes or run away.

These young girls, boys too, who become homeless are easily manipulated and can be coerced into prostitution by pimps who give them fake understanding, shelter and a place to lay their head. All too soon they are seduced and controlled with drugs and violence.  

Adding to this is that heroin is an epidemic and is huge in this area of western MA, as well as all over the country. It is easy to procure the drug which helps with the success of the sex trade. These young people get hooked into selling their bodies for somebody else’s profit. The commercial sex industry is big business and it is preying on our vulnerable youth.

I’m writing this to illuminate the problem, to make you aware of what is going on so that you might not just turn away from young people on the streets. They need our help and we need to be on constant surveillance for the perpetrators who are selling them, especially the men who are buying these young, sometimes very underage, victims of sexual exploitation. 

Many people are shedding a light on this blight.  Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston launched Cease Boston, which is part of a national initiative to fight sex trafficking. Organizations I work with such as My Life My Choice, and Roxbury Youth Works Gift Program are on the front lines of helping the survivors.

Need help? United States:
1 (888) 373-7888
National Human Trafficking Resource Center

SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish and 200 more languages