Sex Trafficking in the Appleton Area
Jan 26, 2015
Sex trafficking is defined as “a modern-day form of slavery, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18”. Just reading this definition from a local anti-sex trafficking organization, Five Stones, will make many uncomfortable. At least it is not something that you have to worry about in your area….WRONG!
Close to Home
Sex trafficking is not just a troubling issue that is happening in third world counties or large cities. It is an issue that we are dealing with right here in the Fox Valley. In fact, according to an article from the Appleton Post Crescent, the police and town officials acknowledge that Grand Chute has become a preferred place to sell sex due to the fact that a major highway cuts through the town and there are over 20 hotels and motels close by. In July 2013, 10 Wisconsin children were rescued and 100 suspects were arrested during an investigation targeting Milwaukee, the Madison/Wisconsin Dells area and the Fox Valley. In 2012, 6 children were rescued and 60 suspects were arrested in Wisconsin during a similar investigation. As stated in the Wausau Daily Herald, the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance reports that trafficking has been documented in more than half of all Wisconsin counties, in both rural and urban areas. To date, more than 200 victims have been identified. Since 2000, about one in six victims reported in Wisconsin was a minor. This goes to show that our quaint town is not as innocent as we would like to think.
Who is Targeted?
The short answer is, vulnerable individuals. Whether it be lonely teenage girls, runaways, illegal immigrants or those who have previously been abused, all are easy prey for sex trafffickers. Traffickers look for easy prey at malls or online. Staca Shehand with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children states, “Children are targeted because of their vulnerability. Especially if they’ve been a victim of sex exploitation, abuse or neglect. And if the child has been involved with social services or foster care, that’s another layer of risk”. Shehan also states “These traffickers are great at reading people. They look at these victims and quickly assess, Do they need an older boyfriend? A protector? A supplier? Do they just want to feel cool?”
What is Being Done?
The first step is awareness. There is an organization in Appleton called 5-Stones which is trying to do just that. Their vision is to, “Fight the giant of sex trafficking in Wisconsin”. They plan on accomplishing this by using their 5 main strategies: Awareness, Networking, Support, Restoration and Involvement. The Appleton Police Department is also partnering with community groups to provide support services to the women in prostitution and raise awareness about sex trafficking. The Victim Crisis Response Team is working to train advocates to help rehabilitate individuals affected. In fact, Reach Counseling Services, Inc., whose mission is to end sexual violence and promote healing in our community, offers counseling for both offenders and victims.
Sex trafficking is a real problem that our community is dealing with and it cannot be ignored. Raising awareness is the first step but it is not the last. People who are hurting, hurt people. Support needs to be available for those affected to stop the cycle of pain. At Pedersen Law Office recognizes this is a sensitive issue and simply wish to help raise awareness.
Van Berkel, Jessie. “Grand Chute Targets Prostitution”. Appleton Post Crescent 6 Oct. 2012: Page 1. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
Vielmetti, Burce. :”10 Wisconsin children rescued, 100 suspects arrested in sex trafficking case”. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 29 July 2013: Page 1-2. Web 16 Oct. 2014.
Siewert, Shereen. “Sex-trafficking cases hard to crack in Wisconsin”. Wausau Daily Herald 26 March 2014: Page 2. USA Today Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
“Our Strategy & Goals.” 5-Stones.org. n.d. http://www.5-stones.org/about/strategy. 30 Oct. 2014.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” 5-Stones.org. n.d. http://www.5-stones.org/faq. 30 Oct. 2014.