Sex trafficking deprives millions of freedom, dignity, and choice. The commercial sex industry exploits even more. This evil impacts primarily women and girls in countries around the world.
SEX TRAFFICKING IN THAILAND
From coastal tourist destinations like Phuket to the bustling city of Bangkok, Thailand’s booming hospitality and tourism industry offers ample opportunities for gainful employment as well as enjoyment of the country’s beauty and culture. But amid the glittering array of restaurants, resorts, and salons, vulnerable populations are often targeted and exploited.
Thailand is both a destination, transit, and a source country for trafficked individuals. Trafficking and exploitation take on many forms here, from forced labor in the fishing industry and housekeeping at hotels, to sex trafficking and illegal prostitution. Victims can be Thai nationals, members of tribal and ethnic minorities living within the country, or people from other countries.
Although prostitution is illegal in the country, Bangkok’s well-known red light districts are hot spots for sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. The government is making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking in the country, and partners like NightLight are part of the solution.
SEX TRAFFICKING IN MISSOURI
Located in the heart of the United States, Missouri is full of natural beauty and known for its friendly, straight-forward people. The major metropolitan areas of Kansas City and St. Louis stand like gateways to the west and east, serving as home to most of the state's 6.2 million people.
In contrast to its reputation for conservative values, this Bible Belt state is also home to disproportionately high reported rates of sex trafficking. Data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline rank it as 4th in the nation for reported cases of trafficking per capita. Missouri has excelled in aggressively and intentionally addressing sex trafficking, leading to higher rates of reporting than many other states. However, factors like poverty, drug use, and the state's network of well-traveled highways contribute to people — the majority of whom are women — still being trafficked to, from, and through Missouri.
Sex trafficking is tied strongly to all aspects of the commercial sex industry, which includes prostitution, exotic dancing, pornography, and online sexual exploitation. Although prostitution is illegal in Missouri, the combination of vulnerable populations, demand, and a thriving commercial sex industry allows trafficking to thrive — and the lines between exploitation and trafficking to blur.
In Southwest Missouri, where our NightLight team is located, multiple factors contribute to the exploitation of vulnerable populations, including poverty and homelessness, substance abuse, mental health, gang affiliation, and domestic violence. Since 2015, NightLight Missouri has received over 250 referrals for individuals suspected to have experienced some form of sexual exploitation.
NightLight Missouri works to bring an end to both through outreach, intervention, and restoration programs.
"When I was first trafficked I would think to myself, 'How can I do this?' I asked for help but people would tell me, 'Life is hard, you have to work!'
But after coming to NightLight I am happy, I am free. I feel blessed because no one can touch my body!"
- Imani, Trafficking Survivor