UnBound Seattle is committed to seeing sex trafficking ended in Seattle. A common misconception we encounter is that human trafficking only happens in other countries. It can’t really be happening here, can it?
According to Polaris Project in 2015, Washington was the 14th highest state in regards to volume of phone calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline1. As you can see in the image above, the majority of volume was focused in the Seattle area1. That alone perpetuates the need for anti-trafficking efforts, but there are even more startling facts about sex trafficking in Seattle that motivate us to action.
In 2008 (8 years ago), research suggested a conservative estimate of 300-500 girls under 18 were being sold for sex in Seattle every night, but estimates were more like 1,000 in 20092. Fast forward 8 years, and the estimate is likely higher due to the increase of portable technology and accessibility.
While many cities experienced decreases in the underground market of sex trafficking, Seattle saw a sharp increase from $50.3 million to $112 million, growing about 123 percent between 2003-2007.3
Seattle's proximity to an international border, major ports, and the I-5 corridor make Washington an attractive place for exploiters and traffickers.4
One third of runaways are approached by a pimp within 48 hours of leaving home.5
1 in 5 of the 11,800 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® in 2015 were likely sex tracking victims.6 As of the time of writing this, 66 children were missing in Washington state, according to Washington State Patrol Missing Children Report.7
Women in prostitution die at 3 times the rate of their peers.8
This is just a glimpse into the individual lives of those being sex trafficked in our city. Once survivors have been removed from trafficking situations, they face numerous challenges in their long journey to healing including complex trauma, addiction, and extreme difficulty getting a job or place to live. In Seattle, there are less than 15 long-term beds for women coming out of prostitution.
But UnBound Seattle believes that we can intercept in each of these areas. Find out more about our prevention, education, and aftercare programs here and join the fight against sex trafficking in our city.
You can also sign up for our 4-week email course to find receive more information about sex trafficking in Seattle and how you can play a part in ending it.
1. National Human Trafficking Resource Center (2015). National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Data Breakdown: Washington State Report. Retrieved from https://traffickingresourcecenter.org/sites/default/files/NHTRC%202015%20Washington%20State%20Report%20-%20WA%20-%2001.01.15%20-%2012.31.15_OTIP_Edited_06-08-16.pdf
2. Boyer, D. (2008) Who Pays the Price? Assessment of youth involvement in prostitution in Seattle. Seattle, WA. City of Seattle Human Services Department.
3. Urban Institute (2014). The Hustle: Economics of the Underground Commercial Sex Industry. Retrieved from http://apps.urban.org/features/theHustle/index.html
4. State of Washington, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (n.d.). Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Trafficking of Children and Youth. Retrieved from http://www.k12.wa.us/safetycenter/CSEC/pubdocs/Sexual-Exploitation-and-Trafficking-of-Children-and-Youth.pdf
5. Luna, Gina (2013). Capitol Hill Isn’t Immune to Sex Trafficking. Capitol Hill Times. Retrieved from http://www.capitolhilltimes.com/2013/08/capitol-hill-isnt-immune-to-sex-trafficking/
8. American Journal of Epidemiology (2015). Mortality in an Open Cohort of Long-term Prostitute Women.