The Common Good
June 2004

Life in the Balance

by Rose Marie Berger, Brian Bolton | June 2004

Five young women—survivors of child and youth sex trafficking in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco—came to Washington, D.C., this winter to share their stories and discuss solutions to a problem that affects an estimated 300,000 youth in the United States annually.

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The women, who were hosted by the Polaris Project and Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, attested to abuse, gang rape, corrupt law enforcement, and pressure to make thousands of dollars per night. Their recommendations to the congressional briefing included equal enforcement and protection for domestic victims of sex trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2001, the allocation of funding for victim services under the PROTECT Act of 2003, law enforcement training, increased services for victims of domestic sex trafficking, and creation of sensitive public awareness campaigns and public education.

"We’ve received a range of responses from their testimonies," Polaris co-founder Katherine Chon told Sojourners, "from personal encouragement to the youth for their courage to media coverage in Seventeen magazine and on CNN."

Rose Marie Berger is an associate editor at Sojourners. Brian Bolton was News/Internet intern when this article appeared. The Polaris Project is online at

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