Findings of Duluth Sex Trafficking Survey Released

Posted at: 04/22/2013 5:28 PM | Updated at: 04/22/2013 6:50 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
manderson@wdio.com

For years, the Duluth Trafficking Task Force has worked to build awareness of the growing problem of sex trafficking in the city. They have never been able to gauge how many people are involved in sex trafficking, but a recent survey offers an insight into exactly how many people are being trafficked.

Last November, the Duluth Trafficking Task Force, which is a program of PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault) conducted the survey. Throughout the month, local agencies helped track and administer surveys to sex trafficking victims.

Monday, the task force released the results and noted some significant findings.

"Whenever we talked about trafficking in Duluth, we were asked the question, 'what are your numbers?' and now we have the numbers," said PAVSA's executive director, Candy Harshner.

Harshner said this survey gives their cause a benchmark in terms of gauging its growth and prevention.

"I think it's going to lend to credibility," said Harshner. "Unfortunately. I mean, it's not like you want to be known as a community where sex trafficking happens...but now we have some facts and figures to prove it."

Staff attorney with PAVSA, Katy Eagle, called the findings significant because the numbers are comparable to much larger metro areas. More than 60 people participated in the survey, and in a city the size of Duluth, that percentage is on par with big cities.

"Nobody has been able to say 'we have this many victims at this time,' but now we have that. I think that will be very, very helpful," said Eagle.

The task force presented some key findings to help describe who is a sex trafficking victim in the Twin Ports.

  • The majority of respondents were people of color.
  • Nearly half of respondents are currently homeless, and 62% had experienced homelessness in the past five years.
  • Nearly 80% of victims have children.
  • Exchanging sexual acts for drugs, alcohol, a place to stay, a ride, food, or money was the sole source of income for most (85%) of respondents.

The task force said they hope these findings will help local agencies secure more funding to build adequate programs for sex trafficking victims.

 

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