New website is resource in fight to end sex trafficking

New website is resource in fight to end sex trafficking
Image by Jackson David from Pixabay
Liz Gotthelf, Publisher

A local service group has given rise to a new website with educational tools on the topic of sex trafficking and resources for victims.

Federal law defines human trafficking as the use of fraud, force or coercion to compel a person to engage in labor, services or commercial sexual acts against their will. Minors under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sexual acts are considered by law to be victims of human trafficking, regardless of the use of force, coercion or fraud.

Sex traffickers frequently target victims and use forms of control or manipulation including violence, threats, lies, false promises and debt bondage to keep victims in the sex industry for their own profit, according to information from Polaris, a nonprofit organization committed to prevent sex and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking occurs in many types of places, including fake massage businesses, escort services, residential brothels, city streets, truck stops, strip clubs and hotels and motels, according to Polaris.


A few years ago, new members of the Rotary Club of Saco Bay Sunset, a club with a focus on service to others, were given a task. The newcomers, called Rising Stars, were asked to create a community service project.

The group has created the Rising Stars Project website, which has information on human trafficking and links victim stories as well as resources in Maine.

“We wanted to educate people about sex trafficking and give direction to victims on where to get help,” said Carol Marcotte one of the "Rising Stars" who created the website.

Sex trafficking doesn’t just happen in large metropolitan areas. In the state of Maine, there are an estimated 300 to 400 victims of sex trafficking a year, according to a 2015 study by Hornby Zeller Associates, Inc. The typical profile of a sex trafficking victim in Maine is a white female between the ages of 14 and 30, living in either a rural or urban area, with a history of sexual abuse or domestic violence, absence of a supportive caregiver and strong possibility of drug use, according to the study.

Publisher Liz Gotthelf can be reached at [email protected]. She is also an honorary member of the Saco Bay Sunset Rotary Club.