The Effects of Covid-19 on Child Sex Trafficking
COVID-19 is having a continued adverse effect on the trafficking landscape. The reality is that the economic effects of this pandemic are increasing some of the vulnerabilities that make people susceptible to sex trafficking in the first place.
The women and children at risk are no strangers to having their lives turned upside down; and now sex traffickers are taking advantage of this current nation-wide disruption to entrap more vulnerable youth with false promises.
Traffickers lure vulnerable youth at bus stops, sleeping in parks and even within the foster care system. The fact that kids are out of school are making them more vulnerable. The traffickers offer friendship, food and a promise of stability in an uncertain time.
Being that children are out of school for social distancing, they are likely also spending more time on the Internet or gaming than during a normal school week. With everyone being encouraged to stay indoors, porn industries are offering free viewing of their content in certain countries as a marketing strategy. And according to Google Analytics, porn searches skyrocket by 4700% when kids are out of school. These statistics are alarming and we should be paying attention to what our kids are doing with so much time off. Predators are constantly online looking for children to prey on.
For victims that are already being held captive, their trafficker is likely forcing them to be in sexual contact with multiple strangers a day, putting them at high risk for contracting Covid-19. If a sex trafficked person ends up contracting the virus, they are likely going to face barriers to accessing healthcare in a timely manner, if at all. If they are able to get a hospital visit, it could be a an opportunity for the victim to be freed from this criminal enterprise. In situations like this, it's so imperative that healthcare workers are able to notice the signs of human sex trafficking. This could be the child's only way out!
If you are looking for ways to help in your community, consider ways you can advocate to stop evictions and keep home utilities on. Another way you can help is by assisting schools in ensuring children are fed during this time of crisis. Many children get 1-2 meals a day at school, which now has been stopped. Let's advocate and support these families! Every voice counts.
Also, please know that the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline remains fully operational, all day and all night during this pandemic. Call them if you need help!
We here at Tomato Superstar support non-profits who combat human sex trafficking and the marginalization of girls around the world. To learn more about our philanthropic efforts, please click here.