Diane McKeel says just a couple of years ago she had no idea that underage human trafficking was a problem. She thought that was a problem in other countries, not here in the U.S. — certainly not here in Oregon. Shortly after hearing a presentation by the head of the state’s human trafficking task force, she took office as a Multnomah County Commissioner. She’s since made it one of her top priorities. But she says she’s not surprised it’s taken people a while to learn and accept that there is real problem and that — at least anecdotally — Portland appears to have one of the worst problems in the country.
Earlier this year former CBS newsman Dan Rather produced a documentary focused on Portland. Many states, including Oregon and Washington, have been taking on the problem to various degrees. Senator Ron Wyden and other politicians recently announced partial funding for a new shelter for survivors of sex trafficking.
Are you a survivor of sex trafficking? What led you into — and out of — the industry? What would help others get out of the forced sex trade, particularly minors? Do you work with survivors? What have you seen that’s been effective?
- Elisia Lopez: Advocate for the Sexual Assault Resource Center, former child prostitute
- Linda Smith: President of Shared Hope International in Vancouver, Washington
- Gwynne Skinner: Assistant professor of law at Willamette University, directed recent report [summary pdf] on human trafficking in Oregon
- Doug Justus: Portland Police Bureau Sergeant in charge of the Vice Detail