We have a lot to worry about right now with the spread of the Coronavirus radiating across the country with increasing speed. There is a lot of information for high-risk groups, such as those over the age of 65 and anyone with an underlying health condition. Receiving less headline-grabbing attention are vulnerable groups such as victims of domestic violence, and victims of sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking victims are being forced to put their health and safety at risk on the average day. Their abusers have already shown they have no respect for the lives of their victims and that hasn’t changed just because we’re in the midst of a pandemic. These victims are an income stream to their perpetrators, nothing more. Because the nature of performing sexual acts requires physical contact, those being forced to sell themselves are also being forced to perpetuate the spread of Covid-19.
In South Carolina alone, this could make things much, much worse. In 2019, human trafficking in the state increased by 360% to 678 known victims. Currently, the top five counties for sex trafficking are:
Coincidentally Greenville, Richland, and Charleston are currently leading the state in the number of positive cases of Covid-19 according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
Stopping the spread
Stopping sex traffickers from putting victims on the street is one important way to halt the spread of the Coronavirus from being transmitted through paid sexual acts. These traffickers are creating a long line of victims outside of their workers. Others being endangered include:
- Parents living in the household
- Strangers in close proximity
Prosecuting sex traffickers will mean a reduction in the number of victims who will end up becoming infected with Covid-19 and passing it on to their community and beyond. It can be a tough crime to prosecute without witnesses coming forward.
Where can survivors find help during the pandemic?
Because of how easily the coronavirus spreads, many shelters and organizations are hesitant to place people in group settings. Help is still available, but there may be different protocols and processes in place to help victims. For example, many shelters are now attempting to put survivors up in hotel rooms as opposed to in group shelters, when possible.
We have compiled a list of resources for sex trafficking victims so they can be safe during the coronavirus pandemic:
- S. Department of Health & Human Services: Office on Trafficking in Persons
- Sanctuary for Families: Safety Planning During COVID-19
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Resources to support people experiencing homelessness
Sex trafficking victims who have escaped their abusers can also pursue damages in civil court. We invite you to contact us to learn more about your options.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sex trafficking, the compassionate South Carolina personal injury attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC want to help you seek the justice that you deserve through filing a civil suit against your abuser. To speak with a member of our supportive legal team, schedule your free consultation today by calling 803-327-7800, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page. If you feel more comfortable speaking with a female attorney, please let us know and we will arrange that for you.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood