January Is Sex Trafficking Awareness Month
By: Arzo Yusuf
*Trigger Warning (sexual violence is addressed in this blog.)
January is sex trafficking awareness month. It's important to be aware of this issue all year round, it's not just a January issue. When people think of sex trafficking, they usually imagine a 3rd world country or a foreign place like Thailand or Romania. Sex trafficking occurs right here in America. Not only that, but 85% of sex trafficking victims in America are kids from the foster care system. That is why Sexy Boss Babe has chosen this specific cause to bring awareness to. Not enough people know what's going on. It's a difficult topic and we hoped broaching it through our platform would help make it somewhat digestable which is why we started the #SBBMOVEMENT. We believe women are the changemakers in society and through this movement we will create change.
Why Do Foster Youth Becomes Victims of Sex Trafficking?
Foster youth are vulnerable and usually don't have a proper support system looking out for them. Traffickers know this and fill the gap for the youth and provide them with attention, love and a sense of safety to gain the trust of the youth. It is like clockwork and a very important part of their process.
There are 500,000 kids in the American foster care system. California has the most kids in the system at over 70,000 and Los Angeles is the leading city with over 35,000 kids in the system. When children are left vulnerable without a permanent, committed, caring adult looking out for them, they are easily sought out by traffickers. Traffickers target these youth in schools, they follow them home, are aware which group homes they live in and befriend them or shower them with attention, love, affection and gifts. They even offer to get their hair and nails done. What teenage girl wouldn't want that especially if they are feeling alone, sad and abandoned?
Once the friendship accelerates, it quickly becomes romantic, the young girl falls in love and a bond is formed. The traffickers know this game all too well. That's when these girls are locked into the trap and traffickers begin to sell them for sex. When a youth is under the age of 18, they are children and the selling and profiting for sex is considered without consent and by definition of the law is forced exploitation and rape. The target age for these victims is 8-12 years old according to the FBI. The life expectancy for these youth is 4 years. They will die due to being beaten, contracting HIV or AIDS or simply from the violent impact of the rape they experience.
Signs of Seeing A Possible Victim of Sex Trafficking
The majority are young girls and may be seen with an older male. She may seem withdrawn or scared. Victims are often branded by traffickers with visible tattoos showing ownership. She may be bruised or injured. She may be holding an expensive luxury purse or other designer clothing. If it's a youth you have regular contact with and suddenly they start missing school or a major behavior change could also be a sign.
How To Help Them
If you see them in a public setting, it is best to maintain distance for your own safety. Instead get a good visual description of both the possible victim, trafficker, any phyical markings etc. information about their car, license plate etc. and contact the local police department or call 911 to report it. You can let the police know you wish to stay anonymous. You can also call the Human Trafficking Hotline 24/7 to report what you saw 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to BeFree (233733).
How To Create Change?
So, how do we change their fate? How do we stop our young girls from being targetting, lured and become victims of sex trafficking? The most important and urgent thing is awareness. The more people that know, the more people will be aware and know how to help. Prevention is key and part of that is connecting foster youth with safe adult relationships.
Sexy Boss Babe does a few different things. One of them is including a bookmark in every box of Quick Nail products that shows the images of the "signal for help" hand gesture so youth will know how to ask for help if they are in a situation where they are being forced against their will to have sex or if they are being coerced by a trafficker a.k.a. pimp. You can also get to know the hand gesture so you know what to look out for in case you see a youth use it who is in danger, you will know what to do.
Since our inception, we've been sponsors at the annual Los Angeles Glamour Gowns event by CASA Los Angeles. Sexy Boss Babe has donated Quick Nail kits to young girls with positive messages of self esteem. Before the pandemic we set up a nail bar so foster youth can get their nails done and have a 1:1 session with us and talk about life and get advice. This experience is impactful and can create change. Read the story in this newsletter about one of the experiences we had. Consider volunteering at this year's event and send us a DM on Instagram @thesexybossbabe .
We've held community discussion groups on empowerment topics and mentored foster youth and survivors of sex trafficking. In 2020, our founder, Arzo Yusuf gave the TEDx Talk, "End Sex Trafficking By Helping Foster Youth." Click here to watch this 10 minute talk to learn more.
If you are interested in helping, you can by continuing supporting Sexy Boss Babe by purchasing our products, sharing our blogs and talking about our mission with others. You can reach out to us to learn more about getting involved to connect with foster youth and be a positive role model in their lives. You can make a difference.
If You Are A Victim of Sex Trafficking
Please know that it is not your fault and that you deserve a better life. You must find a way to outsmart your trafficker and get away from them even if for a temporary amount of time to allow you space and distance to get help. You can contact the police by calling 911 and reporting what has happened or call the Human Trafficking Hotline 24/7 at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to BeFree (233733).
You can visit your nearest hospital emergency room for a check up and let them know what has happened to you, they are trained in providing you help. You can check in to your local women's domestic violence shelter. In Los Angeles the Downtown Women's Center can help. If you need immediate shelter in Los Angeles, the Union Rescue Mission is able to take you in 24/7. You can also reach out to Journey Out, one of our partners who specialize in helping victims of sex trafficking.
If you can't safely do any of those things, DM us on instagram @thesexybossbabe requesting a box of the RED HOT nails and that you want them delivered to the address you are at. We will contact the police and send someone to you. It's never too late to get help, there are people that care.