City in Focus: The Twin Cities
Trouble in the Twin Cities
Human trafficking fares best in the places where nobody is looking. This crime is often hidden in plain sight, its victims mistaken for anything but by communities that are sure that crimes of this intensity happen in other places and to other people, not on their own front porch. The Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, are not normally associated with sex trafficking. But the truth is, it grows here as well as anywhere.
The FBI ranks the Twin Cities among the top thirteen cities for the trafficking of children and adolescent minors. The majority of these children are runaways engaged in what experts call “survival sex.” When experts estimate that a child will be approached by a pimp within forty-eight hours of running away, the odds are good that they will end up as a victim of sex trafficking.
The snaking interstates throughout the Twin Cities make it easy to move contraband, drugs, and human beings. This tangle of interstates known as “Spaghetti Junction” has been called the cross roads of the Midwest sex trade. Since women being sold for sex are often moved around to keep them isolated and to ensure they do not get caught, the more highways present in a city, the more difficult it is to find missing women and children and rescue them.
The most recent strategies involve using hotel employees to help spot child trafficking. While the number of human trafficking cases prosecuted every year is low, about a dozen, the authorities are convinced that far more cases go unreported or undetected. Online consumer-to-consumer trading sites like Backpage.com are infamous as the “new street,” since prostitution (and trafficking, by extension) has by and large moved from the streets to the internet. CNN reports that online traffickers offer “game-day specials,” and seem to fear no consequences for the blatant promotion of prostitution.
But the problem can quickly turn international; earlier this year, members of a Somali gang were convicted of trafficking Somali girls over a period of ten years. The Twin Cities host the largest population of resettled Somali refugees, many of whom have been displaced from their homeland after decades of crisis in the Horn of Africa.
- Pray that God would aid police forces in spotting runaway children before they become victims.
- Pray for a turning of the tide in terms of Internet prostitution, that God would suddenly stop the sale of women online.
- Pray that the culture in the Twin Cities would be dramatically changed, so that the Cities are no longer on the FBI watch lists.