Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Young Alaska Native Girls Disproportionately Targeted in Sex Trafficking
These girls are so heavily sought after because sex traffickers can advertise them as other ethnicities like Asian, Native or Hawaiian.
According to law enforcement, the number of Alaska Native girls being drawn into prostitution is greater than ever.
The illegal business of sex trafficking attracts vulnerable kids and turns them into prostitutes, raking in big money for pimps and sex traffickers.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said that young women come to city hubs from the villages and are basically being picked up off the street and lost, “gone forever into these sex trafficking rings.”
Sgt. Kathy Lacey, head of the Anchorage Police Department’s vice unit, says that sex trafficking is “happening right here on the streets of Anchorage with our kids.”
She said young people may travel to Anchorage from outlying communities and “before they know it they are being approached by a trafficker.”
Native girls are being targeted more aggressively because they can be advertised as Asian or Hawaiian.
But now, instead of predators picking up would-be prostitutes directly off the street, predators have moved to finding their prey online. “The explosion of the internet-facilitated prostitution has moved it into hotel rooms and into private residences,” said Lacey, making it more difficult to bust.
Online or on the street, whether it be movie theaters or malls, the prostitution trade in Alaska is very active, however, there are resources to guide young people away toward a more positive path.
Young adults who have been traumatized in the past can be more easily convinced to engage in prostitution, a problem that officials at the Covenant House of Alaska in Anchorage regularly encounter.
“I would say that our staff is dealing with this on a monthly basis,” said Lauren Rice, director of public affairs for Covenant House.
She said that these targeted individuals are vulnerable to being recruited because “they may not identify their value outside of doing these things.”
Sex traffickers are often prosecuted at the federal level because state law only allows prosecution if the victim is transferred across state lines.
Critics of the law encourage Alaska lawmakers to strengthen the consequences of sex trafficking within state borders.
Safety officials stress the importance of knowing where your children are, who they are with, and encourage reporting suspicious activity to police.
You can also be a positive advocate for young people by mentoring, tutoring or even donating clothes and bus tokens.