Most Americans associate sex trafficking with foreign countries. But sex trafficking, worse yet, child sex trafficking, is actually a huge problem within the U.S. In fact, Portland, Oregon has the highest amount of child sex trafficking in the entire country. Part of this is due to the fact that Portland has the highest amount of strip clubs per capita, as Sgt. Charles Lovell of the Portland Police Bureau explains:
“Strip clubs serve as fertile ground for the problem to fester. Generally speaking, you have guys there, with money, already looking for sex. If you are a pimp or a sex trafficker, it’s a good place to peddle your services.”
That’s exactly precisely what happened in August 2014 when a 15-year-old girl was forced to dance at a nude strip club just outside of Portland. The young girl was reported missing for over a month after she fled from a drug rehab center. Her pimp, Anthony Curry, not only forced her to dance at several clubs, but he raped her and advertised her body on multiple escort websites.
Sgt. Mike Geiger, head of Portland’s sexual assault detail, weighed in on the issue:
“I just believe with my whole heart that people across the community would be appalled if they knew what was going on,” Geiger stated.
But people don’t know what’s going on, and part of that is because many Americans don’t want to believe that sex trafficking is happening right here, at home, in the U.S. But for those who are willing to take a proactive role in waging war on Portland’s sex trafficking problem, Youth Ending Slavery (YES) is the organization to support. YES is a student-led nonprofit based in Portland whose mission is to “combat modern-day slavery by raising awareness about its prevalence in our world.” The organization has taken a proactive role in fighting human exploitation.