To the editor:

I've been following the story of the international sex-trafficking ring in the papers over the last few months. As horrifying as it is to read about, I'm grateful for the coverage to raise awareness to this tragic phenomenon.

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I am a social worker in St. Paul, and I have worked with several women who have been pressured into the sex industry, many of whom are foreign-born and do not have the resources or knowledge to advocate for themselves.

It is easy to assume that sex trafficking is isolated to third-world countries, but this coverage brings attention to the fact that it occurs even in our neighborhoods. Furthermore, we can get involved to fight this scourge and assist the victims of the crimes. The International Institute of Minnesota provides an article entitled "20 Ways to Fight Human Trafficking." Local organizations such as Breaking Free are also leaders in the field.

The conditions that these victims (primarily women and children) are subjected to are inhumane and devastating. The article in the Woodbury Bulletin describes victims that have endured rape, beatings and robbery at the hands of the clients, in addition to their servitude. The perpetrators, like Wang Navas, reap huge amounts of money while often working remotely. Ideally, we can eradicate sex trafficking globally, but no action is too small to take right now, in our own neighborhoods.

Alison Ashby Larson