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People shining a light on the dark world of human sex trafficking deserve our thanks

Photo illustration of women and girls who are trafficking victims. (MADAREE TOHLALA/AFP/Getty Images)

There's beauty in people who speak uncomfortable truths and they deserve our thanks.

We can be thankful for these change agents; those who take giant risks to expose any deep sickness in our society. This is especially true for the advocates and victims of human sex trafficking.

I have no firsthand experience with this horrible crime. But I’ve spent many hours listening to law enforcement, advocates and victims. There are things I’ve learned from all of them that I'd rather not know.

Many  victims of human sex trafficking are girls in their early to late teens. Some are held at gunpoint by their traffickers as they are repeatedly raped by so-called “johns.” They're threatened with harm to themselves or their families if they try to escape.

At first, they're likely to receive a cut of the money they bring in. But as the trafficker exerts increasing control, the victim might only receive payment in the form of a small meal, a candy bar, a daily fix of drugs, or a hotel room to stay in for the night.

They're trapped in slavery.

How does this happen?

Traffickers are in essence professional manipulators. Aside from physical abuse, victims face extreme psychological abuse. Their innocence is lost forever and the resulting trauma can take years to undo, if it is ever really undone.

Every one of these victims was born with a purpose. She is a daughter or a sister; someone with hopes and dreams that go beyond being treated like a human ash tray, over and over.

Once indoctrinated into this world, the average lifespan of a trafficking victim is just seven years.

Traffickers find their victims like any ruthless predator, human or otherwise. They look for a vulnerability or a weakness to exploit, perhaps in a girl who is not accepted by her peers. The crime of sex trafficking cuts across all socio-economic levels, but poverty makes a young person more vulnerable. Desperation brought on by hunger, drug addiction, or the lack of  nice things can make them an easy target for traffickers.

Victims are typically female, although there is growing awareness about the trafficking of young men and boys.

Bottom line: There is sadly a huge demand for it. The trafficking industry has turned into one of the most lucrative organized crime rings, generating billions of dollars worldwide.

Efforts are underway to have popular culture "normalize" the crime.

Pop superstar Celine Dion recently came out with a very dark and disturbing video announcing her new clothing line aimed at children. The same singer who pulled our heartstrings with hits like “My Heart Will Go On,” from the movie “Titanic,” is promoting fashions that are not only riddled with occult symbolism, but display little girls in outfits and poses that are inappropriately alluring for their age.

The clothing line, a partnership with the brand Nununu, also promotes the idea of gender-neutrality.

“Let people be who they are as quick and as soon as possible,” Dion said in an interview.

What's really behind this?

Whether we want to go there or not, the sex trafficking of children is at its base the essence of pure evil.

Through this clothing line, the public is fed images of babies and toddlers wearing fashions steeped in occult symbols such as the all-seeing left eye of Lucifer, skulls, and stars that some believe are meant to represent pentagrams.

Dion’s video begins with her sneaking into a hospital nursery and blowing black sparkly dust over babies lying in their bassinets. After she does this, an image of black floating crosses appears in midair. One of the babies is wearing a top with the words “New Order” on it, a play on the concept of the “New World Order.”

If all of that delves too much into conspiratorial territory, there are literal examples. One of the photos for the clothing line shows a girl wearing a sweatshirt with the word “Ho!” written across it in big, bold letters. The shirt is marketed under the holiday line.

Do we really want a child wearing a shirt emblazoned with a word that is commonly known as slang for someone who is a prostitute?

There are also T-shirts and bathing suits with adult-sized hand prints positioned across the body, swimsuits that look like something a stripper might wear, and  swimsuits with “cut-outs” along either side of the torso for little girls ages 2 through 5. Cute? No.

Another theme is sweatshirts and caps with creepy eyeballs all over them. Finally, there’s a black devil horns cap for babies – although that's not what it's called.  It's called a “Viking” hat. In your face, yet not in your face.

What can be done?

The people fighting and exposing the crime of human sex trafficking need our help, and so do the victims.

You can get involved by donating money or volunteering with an advocacy group in your local area, or by reaching out to national and international groups such as Operation Underground Railroad, which rescues victims, finds them after-care and brings perpetrators to justice.

You can also speak out to help raise awareness about human trafficking. If enough people know about it, then surely our society will not tolerate something so diabolical.

Will it?

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