Combating Human Trafficking - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Combating Human Trafficking

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On the streets, in cheap motels and especially online, that's where young girls are being forced to sell themselves for sex. The average age of entry into this kind of prostitution- is 12 years old.

“Our children are at risk in America. It's not just in Cambodia or India, eastern Europe, it is right here in Reno, Nevada - in northern - in all of Nevada."

“We recover about one to two girls a month and the problem with statistics, because we're low on resources, the statistics don't accurately reflect the problem.”

So four years ago, Melissa Holland decided to do something about it. She founded Awaken, a non-profit organization in Reno that works to combat the sexual exploitation of women and children.

Katy Hartley is the clinical director and a counselor for Awaken. She says the girls are brainwashed at a young age.

“And they really believe sex with a 30-year-old man is okay or multiple sex partners or multiple older men in one night is what's normal - so really doing a lot of education,” says Hartley.

Ronda Clifton is a prosecutor for the office of the Attorney General of Nevada. She says there is hope for positive change, because last year Assembly Bill 67 became a law in the Silver State

“It actually defined and established sex trafficking as a crime. It increased the penalty for perpetrators, significantly.”
    
Awaken's next step is creating a transitional home for girls that are recovered from sex trafficking. Until then they continue to comb the streets and reach out to as many girls as they can find.

This Thursday the first annual fundraiser for victims of human trafficking is being held in south Reno. The event is sold out but donations are always accepted and there are dozens of ways to get involved.
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