By Geoffrey Rogers
The United Nations’ estimate of nearly 27 million people around the world held in slavery through human trafficking is a statistic too mammoth for my mind to fully contemplate, so I’ll consider children…children in our own country.
I have been engaged with efforts to alert Christians to this day’s pressing social issues for 15 years, and I can truthfully say that the sex trafficking of America’s children is one of the most egregious.
It is believed that over 100,000 children under the age of 18 in the United States are trafficked for sex every day. What I have come to realize most of all, is that human trafficking—especially sex trafficking—is a “supply answer to a demand problem.” It exists because people, mostly men, are paying for sex. As a society, if we are to make a substantial difference in the fight against human trafficking in America, we must find ways to decrease and eradicate the demand for purchased sex.
We identify pornography as the #1 factor fueling the demand for sex trafficking. More than $13 billion per year is spent on pornography and commercial sex services—that’s $3,000 per second spent on pornography. It’s estimated that 50-70% of men regularly consume pornography. Last year, the largest porn website in the U.S. received over 28 billion visits; that’s almost 4 visits for every person on the entire planet, for this U.S.-based site. Studies are now showing the highly addictive nature of pornography, which leads a portion of addicts to eventually want to actualize what they have only been visualizing, hence creating the increasing demand for purchased sex. Linda Smith, the founder and President of Shared Hope International, makes this point so clear in the upcoming documentary on sex trafficking in America, BLIND EYES OPENED and she calls out the fact that we simply aren’t holding buyers accountable.
While the focus for awareness about the vulnerability of child sex trafficking victims and services for them has focused on girls and women, what many people don’t know is that demand for sex with boys is rampant as well. A U.S. Department of Justice study identifies that 36% of trafficked children are boys.
Services for all victims across the country are a critically important part of the fight against sex trafficking, and Shared Hope International has been one of the leading anti-trafficking organizations educating the masses and assisting safe home operators to learn from one another and improve their impact. Concerned with the void in services for boys, they recently partnered with one of the only boys’ safe homes in the nation, operated by the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
BLIND EYES OPENED is a first-of-a-kind Christian documentary that dives deep into the sex trafficking industry in the U.S. The film exposes the darkness that fuels demand, highlights survivors’ transformations through Christ, engages lawmakers, law enforcement, organizations, ministries and experts across the country committed to ending the atrocities, all while showing Christ as the hope for all involved. It is such an honor to have Linda Smith participate in this critically important documentary, being released in theaters nationwide on January 23. Visit www.BlindEyesOpened.com to learn more and find a theater near you.
Geoffrey Rogers is the co-founder and President of Ships of Tarshish, a nonprofit production company established to produce high-quality Christian programming that is relevant, exciting and entertaining, and is the co-founder CEO of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking. After leaving a successful career in the corporate world as an executive with IBM, Geoff began Ships of Tarshish with his wife Kerri. Through their work on the upcoming documentary on sex trafficking in America, Blind Eyes Opened, they committed their lives to the fight against sex trafficking.