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Sex trafficking and exploitation is a type of human trafficking, a crime second only to drugs as the largest global criminal enterprise. It is a crime against human rights, in which a person is forced to perform commercial sex acts through force, fraud or coercion, for someone else’s financial gain. Nearly fifty percent of all human trafficking victims are engaged in forced prostitution (US Dept. of Justice), and they may be undocumented immigrants, or lifelong citizens of the United States.
In 2009, MECASA partnered with Catholic Charities of Maine Refugee and Immigration Services to represent Maine on the New England Coalition Against Trafficking. Together, we brought training on identifying and serving human trafficking victims to over 500 social service providers, law enforcement officers, and concerned citizens from Portland to Presque Isle. Since then, we have focused our efforts on strengthening Maine’s infrastructure with regard to this issue, including staffing the Maine Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Work Group, supporting local providers as they develop their communities’ multidisciplinary response to sex exploitation, and developing training and resources for providers and concerned citizens across Maine.
- Nationally, between 100,000 and 300,000 US minors are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation.1
- Calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline originating from Maine have increased by over 50% in recent years.2 Providers from every area of Maine report serving victims of sexual exploitation.
- The most frequent age of entry into the commercial sex industry in the United States is 13 to 14 years old.3
- Between 70-90% of commercially sexually exploited youth are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.4
1. Estes, R. J., & Weiner, N. A. (2002). The commercial sexual exploitation of children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico (Full revised report of the US National study). University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work. Retrieved from: http://www.sp2.upenn.edu/restes/CSEC_Files/Complete_CSEC_020220.pdf
2. National Human Trafficking Resource Center. (2012). Maine call statistics.
3. Barnitz, L. (2001). Effectively responding to the commercial sexual exploitation of children: A comprehensive approach to prevention, protection, and reintegration services. Child Welfare 80(5): 597-610.
4. Murphy, P. (1993). Making the connections: Women, work and abuse. Paul M. Deutsche Press, Orlando, FL.
The Maine Sex Trafficking & Exploitation Network
The Maine Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Network is the central source of information and resources about trafficking awareness and response efforts in Maine. It is a project of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault with support from the Maine Women's Fund. The site hosts information about Maine and national resources; tools for training, awareness, and program development; and information about Maine and federal laws addressing trafficking.
Greater Portland Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation
The Greater Portland Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation (GPCASTE) is a multidisciplinary effort which provides a victim-centered, coordinated community approach to preventing and responding to human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in Maine.
Attorney General's Human Trafficking Work-Group
The Attorney General's Human Trafficking Work-Group is a multidisciplinary group of local and statewide law enforcement and service providers which exists to target statewide policy and infrastructure opportunties to support state and local responses to human trafficking and sex exploitation; and to provide a statewide platform for sharing local trafficking resources and coalition development.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
The NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. NHTRC receives calls from a wide range of callers including, but not limited to: potential trafficking victims, community members, law enforcement, service providers, hospitals, churches, businesses, and others.
If you believe you or someone you know may be the victim of human trafficking, or if you’d simply like more information on red flags and referrals, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. In the case of an emergency or for local service referrals, you will be connected with the Maine-based project.
For more information about human trafficking, click here to visit our resources and research page.