Coronavirus threat isn’t stopping sex trafficking in Jacksonville

Advocates say public health crisis won’t keep Johns from seeking out sex on the streets

File photo
File photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A stay-at-home order in effect in Florida because of the coronavirus outbreak isn’t stopping prostitution and sex trafficking from carrying on in Jacksonville.

News4Jax recently spoke with a woman seen flagging down passing cars on Philips Highway. The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she is working to keep food on the table and a roof over her head.

“I have to live in a hotel that costs $68 a day and I have nowhere else to go," she said. “I have to eat, I have to drink and I must have shelter.”

Sadly, the woman’s predicament isn’t unique. Advocates for sex-trafficking victims contend that there’s a growing demand for the sex trade despite the risks posed by coronavirus.

In this case, the woman acknowledged she’s always worried about the prospect of running into “serial rapists and killers,” but she is not concerned about being exposed to the virus, which causes the deadly COVID-19 disease.

While the woman would not say if she was forced into this line of work, she admitted that she runs the risk of being hurt if she doesn’t work. Her concerns appear to be founded as an SUV with tinted windows drove by repeatedly during her interview.

She told News4Jax she’s not alone, adding that there were other women working in the area whose safety could be in jeopardy if they tried to stop.


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