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“They fought hard to get that ordinance, but the massage parlors just changed their name. “I can remember five years ago, I actually went on Craiglist and looked for massages, and pulled up three girls no more than 12-years-old,” says Watson. On April 6, Backpage’s classifieds were closed worldwide as seven website executives were arrested on 93 counts alleging they facilitated prostitution– including the prostitution of minors.
So, we’ve changed the organization to fit the need locally.” MGALERT works to ensure Bibb County hotels and motels hang mandated signage with hotline information– the same signage Scarborough is hoping to make mandatory in Warner Robins. Lawmakers nationwide have touted SESTA for giving federal and state authorities power to pursue websites that host ads for sex-trafficked victims.
Like the massage parlors of a decade before who changed their names to avoid the law, multiple websites have filled the void. “That’s why they call it the fight to end human trafficking.
It’s 0 billion industry, and someone is making that money,” says Watson.
Organizations like the Polaris Project, which runs a national human trafficking hotline, base their statistics on the number of calls and requests that they receive.
Their numbers provide a clearer picture of those who are willing or able to reach out for help, but cannot include the victims who remain unseen and unheard.
A 2014 Georgia Bureau of Investigations report shows a significant difference between the number of victims documented by law enforcement and the number of victims who report to service organizations.
“I didn’t want to go home and tell my dad, ‘you were right, I wasn’t ready.’ I wanted to make it.” April was struggling to make rent, and her neighbor knew it. “Shorty” was the only name he gave, but he was nice. April wasn’t much of a drinker, but she accepted the job. She started to feel woozy then frightened, knowing it was more than alcohol affecting her.
As she slipped from consciousness, two more men entered the room and paid the owner.
Scarborough remembers the men, what they looked like, what they were wearing, but says she blacked out quickly. This is your life.” Shorty threatened April and her family, intimidated her from going to the police. April says she wasn’t drugged after the first night, that men began to place open bids for her… She was able to escape but abandoned the townhouse for fear of Shorty.
He told April she was beautiful, offered her a job as a server at another friend’s bar. Her first night was slow, just one older man in the bar. April tried to walk toward the front door, but was blocked by men and pool tables.
She didn’t have a car, so Shorty even offered to drive April the 30-minutes to and from work each day. The owner helped April to a room behind the bar, where an army cot was prepared, and helped her lay down.