Trafficking truths

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Living in a West Omaha town in Nebraska should make anyone feel safe. Right? Girls should be able to walk around freely without looking over their shoulder scared to death in broad daylight. They should be able to go on a run around their neighborhood without having to be aware of every car that drives by and who is in it. The sex trafficking increase in the mid west, mainly Nebraska and Iowa, have totaled shifted they way girls live their daily lives and it’s terrifying.

Earlier this past June I started working a retail job at the Nebraska Crossing Outlets, right off of the interstate. It never occurred to me how closing with a coworker at nine o’clock on a Thursday night would make me feel unsure about my safety.

Before all of these trafficking cases started to surface, workers could take out trash after closing. Now, we take it out in the mornings for the sole purpose of our safety at night. Instead of strolling to our cars talking about the day, we run to our cars, keys in between each of our fingers, as if at any second we could be snatched up.

Earlier this month a girl came forward about an incident that happened to her in March at the outlet mall I work at. Talk about hitting home.

A girl and her friend were finishing up their shopping for the day and went to the car in the barely-lit parking lot. The friend decided she needed to use the restroom so she returned back to the mall to the bathroom hallway. After a serious amount of time had passed, the girl went to go look for her friend in the bathrooms. She then found two women holding her friend claiming it was their own friend who was sick. As soon as the girl stated the passed out friend was in fact her friend, the two women sprinted away and haven’t been seen since.

The fact that I spend about 20 hours a week at the same place that incident happened scares the life out of me.

Although it was in Iowa, Mollie Tibbetts case hits very close as well. She was just on her daily evening run when she got taken by an illegal immigrant man in a car. These type of abductions are happening in our own backyards and close to nothing can be done about it.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I refuse to keep my head on a swivel for the rest of my life. Although it was existent when our parents were teens, they have no idea what it is like nowadays being a teenage girl scared to walk anywhere by herself.

For the past few years, the College World series has had the most sex trafficking occur in the entire nation. I used to go with my family and friends all the time at least twice a year. I didn’t even think about it this year.

The influence our environment has on us is incredible. My life now revolves constantly on my safety when it comes to being kidnapped into trafficking. Sex trafficking is a world-wide dilemma, however, it is happening so close to us and I don’t think Omaha has seen anything like it.

Obviously this issue isn’t just threatening girls, but boys have way less odds of being picked off of the street. However, there have been plenty of cases in other countries where gender nor age matter, malicious people will take advantage of anyone standing in front of them.

Girls should not have to be worried wherever they go. No matter where they are, where they are going, or when it is, women should not feel threatened of their surroundings like the way they are today.