Submitted by Jeff Odendahl
Bobbi—she comes to us from this recent StarTribune article—is one of the faces of human trafficking in Minnesota. If you have time, read the entire article. It is moving and sobering. Despite a caring and nurturing family, Bobbi has problems in school and experiments with drugs and sex. At age 17 she flees a treatment program, and is caught up in the sex trafficking trade in the Twin Cities. Rescued from one situation by a compassionate and persistent police officer, Sergeant Grant Snyder, Bobbi’s drug cravings lead to a relapse and a return to being trafficked. Bobbi’s parents and Sergeant Snyder stand by Bobbi, and by story’s end, Bobbi seems well on the road to recovery.
The reality isn’t quite that simple. Bobbi must continue to deal with her addiction. Perhaps worse, she must deal with the memories of being used (and feeling dirty) by the pimps and johns who abused her. These are things that will stay with her throughout life. While she receives counseling as well as the support of loved ones, she will still need to battle the personal demons that may at times overwhelm her.
Many young women do not experience the relatively “happy ending” that Bobbi has. More are caught up in this sickness until they are spewed out as “used up” or dead victims. Prostitution is a form of human trafficking. We must stop seeing this as a victimless crime. It allows men and greater society to ignore that the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 13—she had a choice? Many women who have been prostituted would like to get out but feel trapped. One study found that 89% of women and girls involved in prostitution want a way out—what about this situation is voluntary?
Click here to read Bobbi's full story.