ATA Joins Fight Against Sex Traffickingby Jana Ritter - Published: 10/26/2012
The American Trucking Association (ATA) has joined forces with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), an organization established to fight human sex trafficking by educating, equipping and mobilizing the trucking industry to recognize this serious crime at the truck stops it usually frequents. Being the largest national trucking association of 50 state affiliations and working with major Internet based companies such as Truckingunlimited.com, the ATA is the most powerful voice to ignite the trucking industry in this fight.
Sex trafficking has become a huge industry in the U.S. and it's not just captive illegal immigrants brought here as sex slaves, but a growing epidemic of underage girls being forced into prostitution right here at home. Some are kidnapped right off their neighborhood streets, others are runaways falling prey to the pimps and many are simply brainwashed by boyfriend-turned-pimps controlling them under the guise of “love”. The Department of Justice estimates between 100,000 and 300,000 children are at risk every year to traffickers in the United States and report that children, teens and young women brought into this area of the sex trade are being bought and sold as modern day slaves.
What does the trucking industry have to do with the sex trafficking industry? Truck drivers have become major targets of the sex traffickers, whose goal is to keep making money and moving these girls from city to city on a never-ending circuit of hotels and highway truck stops. Never staying in one place too long to evade law enforcement and hitting highway parking lots full of solo male clientele in the middle of nowhere. To the sex trafficker, the truck stops are ideal and to many of these young girls it's a perpetual nightmare they themselves are helpless to stop. This is where the truckers come the potential heroes saving any one of these young lives with simple awareness and a single phone call.
The decision of one truck driver to call authorities eight years ago simply because he saw two underage girls at the truck stop and felt “ something didn't look right”, was what saved two young teens from their captors and has one young woman going public with her story ever since. The two cousins had been reported missing for months after they were kidnapped walking home one early evening and then forced into a 24/7 world of prostitution, by captors who never let them out of their sight. The one truck driver who made that one phone call was the only chance they had to be rescued and resume their young lives.
The hope is that with increased awareness and involvement, more truckers will make this one phone call that will ultimately save many more lives. Truck drivers are not only essential to transporting so much of what we rely upon in our everyday lives; they are the eyes and ears of our roads and highways. The ATA and TAT have united as the most powerful force putting a stop to this modern-day slavery taking place under our nation's nose.