It’s been said that Houston has more strip clubs, brothels, and sexually oriented businesses than Las Vegas. Although that seems unfathomable it is actually quite realistic. Free the Captives (FTC) did some excellent research to track prostitution ads on backpage.com, although not every ad is a sex-trafficking victim, the high amount of ads certainly holds victims of exploitation1. This research finding is only one indicator that we have a serious problem in Houston.
You can often spot adult stores, cantinas, strip clubs, etc. simply driving across our highways systems. Those are all signs that we have a problem of demand. If the buyers could be curbed, the industry would have to die down because there would be no business. The traffickers are not so bothered by losing girls, they see them as expendable, and they are always working on new strategies to keep their business hidden; evil will always find a way as long as it is allowed.
As ambassadors for the Kingdom of God we must not allow evil, we are called to be reconcilers on this earth, to redeem and take back what has been stolen. We must begin with coming down on the demand alongside the work of rescuing and creating pathways for victims. It is a both, not either or.
If we no longer want to see girls and women stuck and forced into the cycle of sexually oriented businesses then we have to begin by holding our men accountable. FTC found that backpage.com ads were higher on Monday and Tuesdays, while at first thought one would assume the higher ad days would be the weekend. This indicates that perhaps it is due to a demand from business travelers at the beginning of the work week, especially as many of the locations were near high end hotels, shopping areas, & Hobby airport1. Alongside all of the amazing businesses, diversity, & opportunity in Houston there is a high demand for sex we cannot ignore.
There must be accountability against this in the corporate world, buyers must know that in Houston we will not allow them to get away with participating in sexual exploitation. This happens through advocacy, through recognizing when this scenario is happening and doing something about it. FTC has great ways to get involved in addressing the demand of sex-trafficking in Houston2.
We also have to offer a hopeful journey for at-risk girls. If they have pimps intentionally crossing paths with these girls posing as “boyfriends” why are we not intentionally crossing paths with these girls and showing them Jesus? We must be showing them that they have a future, that they have inherent worth and beauty, and they do not need to have a boyfriend or sell any part of themselves to achieve those things. That is one of the greatest lies of our enemy to vulnerable girls, and we must be leading the charge against it.
Reach out to girls from broken homes, pick a school in a low income area and volunteer regularly (middle school is the most at risk age for exploitation), mentor a teen girl in foster care, help vulnerable girls graduating high school access all the resources available to them to walk into a brighter future rather than fall into a job with quick money that steals their self-worth. These are just a few examples of how we could counteract this great evil. Do something.
And then tell your friends. Don’t keep what you know to yourself. Silence allows evil to go on without a check. Don’t stay quiet.
If you have any questions, or want more info on how to get involved in the fight against sex-trafficking please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. – Free the Captives Backpage Ad Research: http://www.freethecaptiveshouston.com/wp-content/uploads/Free-the-Captives-Research-Project-on-Backpage.pdf – http://www.freethecaptiveshouston.com/wp-content/uploads/Free-the-Captives-Research-Project-on-Backpage.pdf
2. –Learn about Free the Captives’ advocacy work: http://www.freethecaptiveshouston.com