The Advance-Titan

Sex trafficking affects Oshkosh

Morgan Van Lanen

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When students at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh think sex trafficking, they often do not realize its affect on the Fox Valley and surrounding area, Interdisciplinary Studies professor Courtney Bauder said.

One of Bauder’s students, Amy Beckman, gave a presentation on Tuesday in Reeve Memorial Union titled “Not In My Backyard: Sex Trafficking in America,” in accordance with Social Justice Week.

Bauder said Beckman’s presentation was a good reminder for Oshkosh students that sex trafficking is in fact happening within the area, even though most people think it is just a foreign problem.

“Last year we [had] numerous presentations on sex trafficking and it was really important for us to have another one this year to remind us that this is still an issue,”
Bauder said. “This is not an external, global phenomena that is happening outside of our nation. But, as [Beckman] tilted so perfectly, it’s in our backyards. And that we should not allow it to be happening in our backyards.”

Women and Gender Studies professor and director of the Women’s Center on campus Alicia Johnson said the location of Oshkosh and the events it hosts are main contributors to trafficking.

“Because we’re located right off of [Highway] 41, we’re a very popular route for transporting different trafficking victims,” Johnson said. “And also, we have several big events, like EAA, Country USA and Rock USA. People who are pimps will bring in their trafficked girls to then work those events.”

Oshkosh’s proximity to larger cities is another contributing factor, Johnson said.

“With the Packers in Green Bay, Appleton is a big city and then Milwaukee is a really popular hotspot,” Johnson said. “Milwaukee is known as the Harvard of pimp schools. So people will come and learn how to be a pimp in Milwaukee and then go and pimp elsewhere.”

Throughout the presentation, Beckman shared facts and statistics about sex trafficking around the world. She even included a 15-minute real-life story about a girl who was a victim of sex trafficking for the majority of her childhood.

Beckman said about 300,000 children are at risk of being sex trafficked in the United States today.

“Sex slavery is a thriving American industry,” Beckman said. “It thrives because there is a demand.”

The amount of money people who take part in sex trafficking children is another reason why the industry is booming, Beckman said.

“A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child per year, according to the Justice Department,” Beckman said.

What many people do not know is that the sex trafficking industry is powered by the internet, Beckman said. Common, everyday sites like Facebook and Craigslist are places where children are trafficked every day.

When it comes to bringing awareness to local trafficking, Beckman said the research she conducted shows how the Oshkosh Police Department has been making strides.

“Through my research I have found out that there have been a lot of local policies or stipulations that we use, as far as law enforcement goes,” Beckman said. “And law enforcement is taking a really positive step in the right direction to mitigate the problem and recognize that there is an issue. There are a lot of training events and things like that, that have been going on as well in the area.”

However, locating sex trafficking victims can be extremely difficult, Beckman said.

“It’s important to really open your eyes to how limited visibility is for us,” Beckman said. “Victims look just like you or I may look. Traffickers look like you or I may look.”

Bauder said the problem of trafficking in Oshkosh and the Fox Valley will continue but talking about the problem might lead to something.

“I know that we bring in speakers that can continue to speak to that and we have lots of different events that help bring a bit of an awareness to it,” Bauder said. “But, conversation needs to continue until the situation is eliminated.”

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Sex trafficking affects Oshkosh