Sex Trafficking in Illinois

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ILLINOIS - Sex Trafficking is a problem that exists around the country and right here in Central Illinois.

On Tuesday, Jody Raphael, a Professor at DePaul University stood before a room of listeners at the Brookens Auditorium on UIS' campus and uttered powerful words in hopes of educating people about the issue.

Raphael said, pimps target vulnerable young women that they know they can coerce.

"Someone who has left home or needs to leave home or who is on the streets. Someone with low self-esteem. Someone who has been sexually abused," said Raphael.

She said that she uses pimps and sex traffickers interchangeably. Pimps are not just random people to young girls, they can also be a parent grooming a child from birth.

These children “are too young to know that this is not normal. They love their parents and there are many conflicting things. There is also fear," Raphael added.

She told WAND pimps make vulnerable girls fearful so they will never leave. As they continue to perform sex acts for money, the pimps take girls under the age of 18 from state to state and one stop they make is Illinois' state capitol.

"Girls and women are transported to this area during the legislative session and many of them are not volunteers in the sense that they are coerced by threats," Raphael added.

While speaking to the crowd, Raphael also touched on the fact that young women feel as though they owe their pimps something.

"It takes way too long for the people who are trafficked to decide that they want to escape," Raphael said.

She said, if you are a victim of sex trafficking there are certain ways that victims can escape by calling the police or somehow calling the national hotline. That number is (888) 373-7888.

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