Human trafficking has once again found its way into the media spotlight. Whether it is a Saudi Princess allegedly holding women against their will and forcing them to work against their will or a sex trafficking sting in Mexico City, which freed 74 women from captivity, we continue to learn more about the victims who have escaped from this horrible crime against humanity.

Whether the trafficked victim was forced into prostitution or into pornography, the psychological trauma that many victims endure has a long lasting impact. In a recent article in Verily Magazine, Mary Rose Somarriba describes the emotional toll and the need to end this crime. Somarriba interviewed several former victims, as well as organizations that assist trafficking victims, to bring awareness to the link between sex trafficking and pornography.

One theme that stood out was a victim who was trafficked, sold into prostitution and pornography. This victim, who has escaped the crime, indicated that being exploited in pornographic materials is far more damaging, as the photos still remain online long afterwards.

Other victims of trafficking who were forced into pornography also note the trauma of being exploited. Somarriba also notes an interesting statistic that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provided:

The U.S. government considers all minors exploited in pornography to be victims of human trafficking, by virtue of their youth and inability to consent. And child pornography is a booming business. “With the advent of the Internet,” Allen notes, “the problem of child pornography has exploded . . . with that sense of anonymity and the ability of people to connect with each other, like-minded individuals, and trade images.”

The Department of Justice and NCMEC “both recognize that pornography is an element that adds to the serious problem of sex trafficking,” notes Elaine McGinnis in her 2004 report The Horrifying Reality of Sex Trafficking. “Many traffickers are found with filming equipment and cameras to create and sell pornography.”

This is a particularly sad statistic, and one that should outrage society as a whole. What can we do to prevent this crime from occurring? What can we do to protect the innocence of youth everywhere?

Although the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was enacted in 2000, this crime still occurs, partly because people do not recognize the signs of trafficking. Many of this could be contributed to not having the resources available to recognize those who are victims and ensuring that law enforcement is actively trying to get the traffickers off the street.

However, it is up to each state to ensure resources as well. Shared Hope International provides a valuable resource in identifying how your state ranks in preventing human trafficking. This resource tracks each state legislature and what they are doing to prevent domestic minor sex trafficking in terms of legislation.

It is time to stop girls and young women from being sexually exploited through the grim acts of trafficking. It must be the mission of professing Christians everywhere to advocate tirelessly for a society that is free of this horrible crime.