I have to turn away. The staged picture is too real. Normally, I love seeing images of my daughter, but not these. Even though I know they aren’t real my eyes don’t want to see the details.
This can’t be my care-free, undefiled girl. The pain in her eyes repels me. I force myself to look again. Stifling tears I finally take in every pixel. Tears, filth, anguish, tattered clothing, vile bedding.
I exhale. It’s not real!
Not this time. But for too many children this is their reality. Sex trafficking is a real thing. When I first became aware of it, I thought of it as an over-there problem. It happened in other countries and it was reprehensible, but it didn’t happen here. Then I learned the truth. It’s also a right-here problem.
I live in a city that is a major hub for trafficking. Even in my affluent, low-crime suburb it happens. It is a global problem. It is an over-there problem and a right-here problem. When I learned this, I was faced with the choice to become more aware and see the truth or live with my head in the sand. I chose to see the truth.
Others are making the same choice. A group of people have chosen to take one girl’s story and make a short-film to raise awareness. Savannah chose to be a part of the promotional photo shoot. And I chose to make myself share these pictures.
There are numerous websites that raise awareness about trafficking, but here are just a few statistics:
Two children are sold every minute
Over 1.2 million children are trafficked annually
Over 100,000 US children are forcefully engaged in prostitution or pornography each year
How many children have been sold in the time I have taken to write this? How many have been sold in the time it has taken you to read it?
Seeing Savannah in trafficking pictures is hard, but I am inordinately proud of her willingness to do it. What can you do? What will you do?