The other day, I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across an interesting article. The headline was something along the lines of: “Do You Know What These Tattoos Really Mean?” Intrigued, I clicked and read the article.
The pictures of tattoos that were shown were on various women and they all had the same theme: a crown with a man’s name on it. At first I thought it was just tattoos from relationships that had ended. Sadly, it was much worse than that. The tattoos these girls were sporting were not just tattoos, they were brands.
You see, every one of these women were survivors of sex trafficking. The tattoos were forms of letting other “pimps” know that the girls were already “claimed”. Not only had these girls been through something so tragic, but now they were carrying physical signs of that bondage.
Enter, Jennifer Kempton.
Jennifer is a survivor of sex trafficking. She, too, had a tattoo on her neck, that showed who she was “owned” by. After she escaped that world, Jennifer worked through her painful past, but still felt the weight that tattoo had on her. She decided to get it covered up and changed into something that represented how she felt now—a butterfly; ready to spread her wings and soar!
After she went through the process of changing her tattoo, she realized that she was not the only one who had gone through such a terrible period in her life. She wanted to help others, so she created Survivor’s Ink.
Survivor’s Ink is a non-profit organization that gives financial assistance to those affected by sex slavery. They help women get their tattoos removed (an expensive procedure) or pay for their tattoos to be covered and changed into something beautiful and empowering!
I didn’t realize until I had read the article just how much sex trafficking really happens in America today. Many think it can’t happen here; that’s just in the movies. This is a naïve assumption.
According to Equality Now:
“Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. This, despite the fact international law and the laws of 134 countries criminalize sex trafficking.
- At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor.
- About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade.
- Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation.
- Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.”
Sadly, Oklahoma is major hub for sex trafficking. Because there are three major interstates in Oklahoma, and its location in the middle of the nation, sex trafficking is rampant here.
This year alone, there have been 85 tips given to possible sex trafficking rings in the state and 21 cases of sex trafficking have been reported. The majority of the cases involved adult women, who were U.S. nationals.
According to Dayspringvilla.com, the traffickers or “recruiters” look for “troubled girls, many of whom have been physically or sexually assaulted at home. These girls are lured into the world of sexual trafficking with promises of money, designer clothes and exotic travel only to discover they owe a debt that can never be satisfied. Others are drugged and abducted, never to be seen again.”
The way to stop sexual slavery is to speak up, be aware, and help where you can. We need to be the voices for these girls. They are someone’s daughter, sister, mother, aunt, cousin, and friend. Be bold, just like Jennifer Kempton.