Hiding in Plain Sight

Students at Mercer College in Macon, GA noticed something we all see from time to time: billboards for ‘massage parlors’ and escort services. But those students saw them for what they are: fronts for sex trafficking. More importantly, they did something about it.

First, they took aim at the billboard companies – putting pressure on them to refuse to post these ads. Then they went to taxi services that drive trafficking victims from one motel to the other, from one ‘massage parlor’ to another – and take half their earnings. Then they targeted the landlords at these establishments asking them to refuse to rent to businesses that are merely fronts for the exploitation of young women.

This is courageous, sometimes dangerous work. And it needs to be done on an ongoing basis since traffickers change their routes and locations all the time. And it is work we could any of us can do with a phone call.

This week in New York, a survivor of trafficking will testify in favor of a plan to fine taxi drivers who knowingly transport trafficking victims.

Great strides have been made in fighting trafficking. But full justice will not be done unless we choke a part of the supply chain – which is right there in plain sight.