Send a gift to a sex trafficking victim
This holiday season, Minnesotans can add a victim of sex trafficking to their gift list.
Mayo Clinic partnered with The Link , a nonprofit that fights poverty and crime, including sex trafficking and exploitation, to create the Rise Up gift registry for victims of sex trafficking.
The registry includes necessities such as clothing, winter coats, pillows and blankets. The Link will distribute the items purchased through the online registry.
Arne Graff, a doctor at Mayo Clinic who works with victims of child abuse and sexual abuse, said patients who have been sex trafficked are harder to treat than car crash victims.
"This population group has got so many things going on, between infectious disease risk, lack of education," Graff said.
Most sex-trafficked patients have been trapped, emotionally and physically manipulated and threatened with injury or death to keep them in place, Graff said. Getting out requires an immense amount of courage, but it's only the first step.
When people are trafficked, they "literally lose everything they own," Graff said. Although some are tempted into a situation with the promise of jewelry or gifts, once rescued, they own nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The registry launched Monday and will continue through February. The Women's Foundation of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota published research correlating large-scale events such as the Super Bowl with sex trafficking. However, Graff said this attitude can overshadow the daily impact sex trafficking has on communities across the country.
Every day, about five girls younger than18 are trafficked or sexually exploited, Graff said.
"Most people think that's an issue in metropolitan areas, and that's not the case," Graff said. "That's a lot of kids."
Mayo Clinic will continue to raise awareness with a social media blitz today at 11 a.m.
"We're not going to wipe out (sex trafficking) right now, but if we can make people aware, then we can put a dent in it," Graff said.