End Child Sex Trafficking: Kids are NOT for Sale in D.C. USA

Throughout the month of September, public transit users will receive an important education on the realities of child sex slavery in America. This week, Shared Hope International will unveil End Child Sex Trafficking: Kids are NOT for Sale in D.C., a campaign that aligns with D.C. Human Trafficking Awareness month. Bright yellow signs in Metro buses, bus shelters and Metro stations scream messages, including “13 is the average age children are forced into prostitution.” With D.C. Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the District’s Office of the Attorney General, and D.C. City Councilman Phil Mendelson, Shared Hope International Founder and President Linda Smith will highlight the reality of child sex slavery in America and in the D.C. Metro area in particular at a 10:00 AM press conference on September 9, 2009 at the Washington D.C. United States Attorney’s Office.

On a familiar intersection, such as 14th and K Street, NW and along New York Avenue, young girls are sold by pimps and rented by the hour, and by the minute, for sexual acts. Hundreds of campaign announcements will address the local demand for paid sex and will emphasize the vulnerability, exploitation and danger that American children face every day on our streets. Advertisements placed in the Adult Classifieds and the Wild Side sections of CityPaper will warn potential buyers that buying sex with a child in Washington, D.C. can result in a life prison sentence.

Shared Hope International conducted over five years of research on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking – U.S. children used in prostitution, pornography and sexual entertainment. Research confirmed that at least 100,000 American children are used in prostitution in the United States every year.

“American girls, from small towns to our nation’s capital, are being lured into prostitution and sold for sex, and some of the harshest penalties for child traffickers have been served by the District of Columbia,” said Linda Smith (U.S. Congress 1994-1998), Founder and President of Shared Hope International. “It is clear that D.C. refuses to be a playground for traffickers and pimps.”

The Washington D.C. area has been identified as a sex trafficking hub, and the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force is aggressively tackling predators who attempt to buy or sell children in the District. Just last week, Shelby Lewis was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. and charged with five counts of Sex Trafficking of Children and four counts of Interstate Transportation of a Minor for Purposes of Prostitution. Lewis, a Maryland resident, brought underage girls – including a 12 year old – into D.C. where he forced them into prostitution. If convicted, Lewis faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

About Shared Hope International For more than a decade, Shared Hope International (SHI) has worked around the world partnering with local groups to prevent trafficking and to rescue and restore the victims of sexual slavery. SHI recently released “National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking”, which conducted field assessments on child sex trafficking in 10 U.S. locations. Visit http://www.sharedhope.org.



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