Open Standard Media Player version 1.3
DULUTH - "This is the first of its kind a survey a study done by local agencies here in town," PAVSA Duluth Trafficking Task Force Coordinator Shunu Shrestha said.The month long 'Point in Time' study was conducted at four different sites in Duluth, to find exactly how the global problem that's leaving men, women and children broken is happening locally.
"How are they being exploited, what type of recruitment is happening," said Shrestha.
Seventy-seven percent of the survey participants were female and 22 percent were male.
The key findings revealed that more than 20 percent of the participants identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.
The majority of the respondents were people of color.
"What traffickers do is target women of color,” American Indian Community Housing Organization Program Director Michelle Pederson said.
Nearly half of the participants are homeless.
A large portion of them had past physical and sexual abuse.
More than 70 percent of them used drugs or alcohol.
"They're being sold for sex, it could be a place to stay, it could be for food it could be for an exchange for some type of drug," said Pederson.
The study also shows nearly 80 percent of the sex trafficking victims have children.
Fifty percent of them started using drugs at an early age and some were first exposed to sex trafficking at the ages of nine and 10.
"It's bigger and more detailed than we even know," said Pederson.
Officials say the findings reinforce the need for local services.
Anything from diapers to counseling and housing are much needed resources.
"There's a lot that’s needed,” said Shrestha. “We are still finding out where do we go from here."
Agencies say they hope the findings will help them get funding to implement programs, services and policies.