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Your body is not your own. It belongs to the men and women who feed you, dress you, stain you red—your lips with lipstick and your cheek from their palm. It belongs to the customers—the married men who come late at night and place their hands on your thigh, your breasts, your neck without your consent. It belongs to the belts and fists that sting your skin every time you cry or refuse to comply with a customer’s wishes. It belongs to the money—how much is a night with you worth?—that a pimp can earn by selling your body a few times a night, seven days a week. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Shouldn’t you be reminded that your bodies actually are your own? Unfortunately, not everyone in the world gets to claim their body as their own.

There are around 30 million people in this world who have become victims of sex/human trafficking. Now, I would love to assume that everyone who reads this knows what trafficking is and is actively spreading awareness of it, but unfortunately that isn’t the case, so I’ll provide a definition.

Sex/human trafficking is modern slavery. It’s exploitation—demanding victims to film pornography, to unwillingly perform sexual acts, to provide forced labor. It’s illegal, it’s inhumane, and it’s happening all around us. It’s usually thought just to be a horror that happens in the third world, not something that affects us here in our industrialized countries, but of the 30 million victims around the world, almost half of them are in the United States. Admittedly, not all of these people are Americans.

I would estimate that a large percentage of them have been kidnapped from their own countries and illegally shipped to undercover brothels in the U.S. *A brothel is a house where women and girls are kept and men can come pay to have sex with them. The average age victim of sex trafficking is 10-14. That means the average victim of sex trafficking isn’t even in high school yet. This could be due to—in the third world, especially—the high demand for young girls in brothels, especially virgins. In many undeveloped countries, it’s seen as an honor to take a girl’s virginity, and men are willing to pay more for the opportunity, resulting in pimps (brothel owners) being able to raise their price.

The trafficking business is very dangerous in both industrialized and still developing countries. Women and children everywhere are at risk of falling victim to the commercial sex industry, and if more is not done to rescue current victims, shut down brothels and raise awareness to the problem at hand, the industry will only continue to grow. Annually, the sex trafficking industry makes 32 billion dollars a year, victimizing thousands and millions of innocent people. Who’s to say you won’t be next?


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Cassie Baker is a high school sophomore from the suburbs of Atlanta. She hopes to be a journalist and a fiction author when she grows up. She's passionate about social justice, intersectional feminism and keeping her Snapchat streaks. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing and listening to Fall Out Boy. Despite her deep love for dark lipstick and Ryan Ross, she is NOT your average scorpio. You can contact her via Twitter and Instagram: @_cassiebaker_

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