A billboard on Interstate 30 in East Texas pictures a young blond woman and the words, "Get out of Prostitution. Be a SUGAR BABY!" I didn't know what a "sugar baby" was. It turns out, this is a woman who is paid by a man to have an ongoing sexual relationship with him. Advocates say it's not prostitution, since it's not a one-time encounter. Critics call it "an online pimping service on a billboard."
Similar billboards are popping up around the country. A billboard in Philadelphia reads "Thou shalt not (strike through) commit adultery." They lead to a website that offers a selection of men willing to pay for relationships. These men post profiles, even including their income levels. This phenomenon is growing everywhere, including the Bible Belt. A company spokesperson says, "Dallas is one of the sugar daddy hubs in the U.S." They claim 30,000 members in Dallas, and hope to double that number.
Whatever we call it, this is sexual exploitation.
The average age of entry into street prostitution in America is between 12 and 14 years old. Many are forced into prostitution by pimps who manipulate them physically, emotionally, and financially. Once trapped, many cannot escape. And many are sold into sexual slavery. Globally, two children are sold into slavery every minute-1.2 million a year. Seventy-nine percent are sold into sexual exploitation; half are children.
In Dallas, where I live, 6,000 teenagers run away from home every year. One out of three is lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home. The most lucrative form of sexual exploitation is pornography, which makes $20 billion a year from 70 million users a week.
One step is to urge our government to tighten restrictions on internet pornography. Following the example of England's prime minister, one organization has drafted a petition asking the federal government to require internet providers to block pornographic sites automatically. If people want to view these sites, they would call their internet provider to request that the block be removed. Such a law would help parents keep pornography from their children and would lessen the demand for human trafficking to produce porn.
The campaign is titled, "Your No Is Her Hope." I have signed their petition-you may want to do the same. Whether it is this petition or some other action, God knows a way he can use your witness and resources to protect someone from sexual exploitation. This issue may seem so large that you can't make a difference, but "some beats none," as the saying goes. Will you pray about God's next step for you?