Forum held to educate physicians in role against sex trafficking - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Forum held to educate physicians in role against sex trafficking

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

It's been called modern day slavery. Humans, very often children, bought and sold for the purpose of sex. 

Wednesday night at the Savannah Campus of Mercer University of Medicine, a forum was held to shed light on the problem and the role physicians can play in identifying victims.

"I think people would be shocked to know that children are being sold for the purpose of sex in their city.  And that it is happening right under their nose,” said Dr. Donna Evans.

Dr. Evans was one of the speakers at Wednesday night's forum and said health providers must be looking for possible signs that a person is a victim of trafficking. He says victims are sometimes persuaded or forced to get tattoos to show that they are the property of a trafficker.

"Look for these tattoos. Look for these odd tattoos and don't be afraid to ask, what is that?" said Dr. Evans. "Medical providers need to be aware that a child that is presented to their office with either injuries or infections may be a victim of child trafficking—they need to alert the authorities. They need to remember that they are a mandated reporter."

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has been actively involved in the battle to stop trafficking in the state. A problem that he says is finally getting more of the attention it needs.

"This is one of those cases where it is better to be wrong than to let something continue that you had the opportunity to stop,” said Olens. "Let's face it, the denial issue was a huge problem. When you would go to the Georgia Legislature and say we have people selling 12-year-old girls for sex, they weren't ready to hear that—no one is ready to hear that, so it's a process where you have to educate before you can try to legislate."

Olens says progress is being made, but that the problem will not go away until demand does.

"So the only way you deal with this problem is on the demand side. You have to deter the buyers from picking up the phone or responding to the opportunity to buy a child for sex.  And it needs to have one heckuva a consequence,” he said.

Olens says that Georgia has become much more aggressive in the fight against trafficking. Working with law enforcement, judges, schools, healthcare providers and even truckers to help identify trafficking.

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