MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An organization that fights to put an end to child prostitution and trafficking is getting help from taxi and ride share drivers.
The partnership between “Ending Child Slavery at the Source” and Uber will help train drivers to recognize people who are being sold into the sex trade.
Uber drivers have been thrust into the front lines in this battle against the sex trade.
They now must use their gut and training from experts to help their passengers who may be trying to get out.
The sex trade market is growing and more than ever before young people are being used to meet the demand.
“The number of kids who are actually runaways, who are caught up in the sex trade, who are being exploited is astronomical. It’s gone from 1 in 6 in 2014 to 1 in 5 in 2015 and they are expecting the numbers to increase this year as well,” said Faiza Mathon-Mathieu.
Mathon-Mathieu is director of public policy with Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking.
She believes the only way to save these victims is by forming partnerships.
She hopes the transportation industry can help identify and report people they encounter who may need help getting out of the sex trade.
“They don’t necessarily know that they’re victims, which makes the crime all the more complicated because they are not going to necessarily be seeking help,” said Mathon-Mathieu.
This group hopes Uber drivers will use their interaction with victims to help.
“We have interesting conversations in very short trips and you can learn an amazing amount with a person and you can also detect when there is something wrong when they get in the car,” said Ron Zenefski.
Uber drivers like Zenefski welcome training on what to look for if someone who is being sold for sex gets into their vehicle.
Guidelines developed by the experts will help these ride share drivers detect someone in need.
“Youth with name or symbols tattooed, lots of technology, if they have multiple phones, if they are traveling with unrelated individuals and adults or they don’t know where they are going,” said Mathon-Mathieu.
Uber drivers will have cards with information on who to call to get help
They’ll pass out these cards to the passengers they believe are being used in the sex trade.