• New England agency targets growing number of sex trafficking cases

    Updated:

    BOSTON - A New England agency is targeting the growing number of sex trafficking cases by raising awareness and providing resources to people potentially impacted.

    Love146 is an agency in New England that seeks to educate teachers and parents on the signs of human trafficking.

    There are more than 20,000 ads selling people for sex every month in Boston, with each ad receiving an average of 52 responses.

    There are over 9,000 searches for sex buying in Boston every day.

    "There are whole chatrooms where buyers are communicating about the best websites, what the language on these websites are," said Erin Williamson of Love146. 

    Williamson said in many cases, young women are recruited online in subtle ways. The women become caught in a trap of prostitution they cannot escape.

    "Sometimes youth will be sent to a buyer's place of residency, to a hotel where a buyer is staying at, to a place of work, so we're seeing it happen in many different ways," said Williamson. 

    Massachusetts General Hospital recently received a grant to treat human trafficking victims who suffer serious health concerns.

    The Freedom Clinic at MGH was founded by Doctor Wendy Macias-Konstanopoulos.

    "Our referrals are coming in from law enforcement agencies, from Department of Homeland Security, from the FBI," said Macias-Konstantopoulos.

    She said doctors are becoming more aware of the problem.

    “They're becoming more educated about how to recognize the signs and symptoms of human trafficking in their patients," said the doctor.

    But Williamson said the focus needs to be not just on intervention, but prevention as well.

    Love146 said predators are using apps and online sites to meet potential victims.

    Red flags in sex trafficking victims can range from the sudden presence of an older boyfriend to a sudden change in dress.  Other signs include detaching from friends and family.

    The anti-trafficking agency said many victims don't realize they are being preyed upon until it is too late.

    Additional educational resources on sex trafficking can be found on Love146.org

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