Many people might think that slavery is something of the past, but there is a modern day version of it that exists right in the Queen City. North Carolina is ranked as one of ten states in the country with the most human trafficking activity. Congressman Robert Pittenger, along with three survivors, stopped by our studio to talk about the issue.
Antonia “Neet” Childs, founder of the Neet’s Sweets Bakery and former victim of sex trafficking, says her road to dedicating her life to her dream of owning a bakery took a detour. She’s fortunate she found a way out.
“It took a long time to recognize that I was a victim because I didn’t see myself as a victim. A lot of young women that are being sexually exploited, the average entry age being twelve years old for women that fall into commercial sexual exploitation, you don’t see yourself as that,” she said.
Congressman Pittenger has been working hard to combat the issue.
“We have six legislative bills that are coming up this month to try to address this and try to prevent this issue. It’s awareness to begin with. You have to know the problems and what people are doing out there. Kids need to be aware of it, and what we need to do as a community to support,” he said.
The survivors said they became victims at vulnerable points in their lives. Maria and Rosa have asked to not reveal their last names to protect their identity.
“I found him on backpage.com. It’s like another craigslist. He had an ad out for young aspiring actors and actresses to come an interview,” Maria said.
“I was waiting at a gas station waiting for my cousin to pick me up. It was a guy and he had pulled up. I felt like it was dumb to get in the car, but I did. Instead of him taking me to my cousin’s house, he threw something over my face and took me to another state,” Rosa said.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry. Congressman Pittenger says he hopes proposed bills will pass, to bring awareness and resources to this violation of human rights.
“This is a problem in North Carolina. We just can’t assume that this problem isn’t there,” he said.