Attorney General Chris Carr announced Thursday that his office is partnering with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and nonprofit organization Street Grace to target the commercial exploitation of children for sex.
The initiative, called “Demand An End,” targets customers in the domestic minor sex trafficking market, which the groups called “DMST.”
Demand An End’s focus is on education and awareness, aiming to create a united force and stop the growth and proliferation of sex trafficking by targeting the demand side of the issue. The announcement said the underground commercial sex economy has surpassed the illegal gun trade as the second-largest black market in the country, trailing only illegal drugs.
“We are focused on bringing an end to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in Georgia and around the country by addressing the root of the problem—demand,” Carr said in a statement. “This horrific industry will continue to victimize and exploit children as long as there is a high demand for it. This is why we are asking all cities, counties, businesses, non-profits, houses of worship, law enforcement officials, judicial professionals and concerned citizens to join us in demanding an end.”
Traffickers are attracted to the commercial sex economy by its relatively low risk and the ability to “recycle” children for greater profit, according to the announcement. The groups estimated that as many as 300,000 American children are at risk of being victimized by sex trafficking, entering “the life” at an average age of 12 to 14 years old. In Atlanta alone, the underground commercial sex economy is estimated to be worth approximately $290 million a year, with traffickers making an average of $33,000 per week, Carr said.
“The launch of the Demand An End Campaign illustrates that protecting our children from these predators remains a high priority,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan said in the news release. “The GBI is fully committed to working with the Attorney General’s Office and Street Grace to address domestic minor sex trafficking. Violators will not be tolerated.”
“The goal for the Demand An End initiative is to create a nationwide, inclusive campaign under a single brand that will ensure that local authorities are trained to recognize and report suspected cases of sex trafficking,” Street Grace CEO Bob Rodgers said in the release. “In addition, Demand An End aims to aid in the training of law enforcement and judicial officials so that they are better equipped to investigate, arrest, recognize and aggressively prosecute buyers and traffickers. By committing to becoming a Demand An End city, county or state, officials are letting those who wish to harm our children know that their region is a hostile environment for buyers and traffickers.”
The group estimated that, every month in Georgia, 354 minors are sold for sex to 7,200 men. Including repeat purchases, these men pay for an estimated 8,770 sex acts per month. As a result, each child is exploited multiple times per month and even per day, they said.
According to Street Grace, responses to child sex trafficking to date have been focused almost exclusively on the supply side of the equation—providing crucial rescue and rehabilitation services to survivors of child sex trafficking after they have been exploited. The announcement included a statement from the Street Grace website: “These services are greatly needed, however, this approach only addresses half of the equation and does not target the source that perpetrates the industry, demand.”