Speaking Out About Dark Moments, Human Trafficking
Published July 11th, 2014
NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA - The game is called human trafficking and Florida is a big player. Earlier this month an accountant was arrested for using three women as sex slaves inside his home. And that's just one example of the many stories out there. One local victim is raising awareness across the state.
The sunshine state is ranked in the top three states for human trafficking and some people are working through their personal stories to change those numbers.
“The reality is that human trafficking has been here, the exploitation of children has been here in Florida for a long time... It's just that we refuse to see it," Richard Tovar with the non-profit FIGHT said.
It's a dark world to live in. A world Jerome Elam from Gainesville knows all too well. "I became trapped in this world… an enormous burden no child should have to bear. For seven year of my life I was trafficked by a pedophile ring and I was finally able to escape and get out of it," Elam said.
Elam who felt like he was trapped in misery until the age of 12, can now re-tell his story after more than 30 years. "One of the things that haunts me and drives me are the children I remember that didn't make it, that I still see their faces every night and it really just makes me want to fight harder because I don't want one more child to suffer the horrific nightmare I endured as a young child," Elam said.
Yvonne Williams from Lecanto started the Trafficking In America Task Force, an annual conference that educates youth on the matter. The event will take place in West Palm Beach from July 16th-18th. Elam will be there to share his story with teens.
Williams said, "If we don't address the why, we will never stop this. If we don't make changes in our culture, we will never stop this. So my heart moving forward is not talking about human trafficking 101 per say, we now know about it. Finally America woke up to this aspect. But now we need to say what are we going to do to change this culture to stop this?"
Tovar with FIGHT a non-profit in Gainesville fighting against sex trafficking says that in order for this problem to stop, people need to stop buying sex. "Whether it's a in a strip club or pornography or hiring a prostitute in the street, going online or any of these places… there's no reason for us to do that, when we do that we're just increasing that demand which eventually causes women and children to be brought into this industry because it's 'good business.'"
For more information about Trafficking In America Task Force, click here and for the conference click here.
For more information about FIGHT, click here.
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