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Florida Sex Tourism, LGBT Youth at Risk Highlighted in Statewide Human Trafficking Report

Photo: Ira Gelb via Flickr Creative Commons

Hundreds of cases of human trafficking are reported in Florida every year, and a new report from 2016 shows the number of human trafficking cases in the state doubled in the last year.

The vast majority of trafficked persons in Florida are young women, and sex trafficking  is the most common form of human trafficking in the state, according to a report from  Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families.

The reports' authors say Florida's reputation as a tourist destination means traffickers respond to the demand for sex tourism by trafficking victims to the state during tourist season.

The report also sheds light on the issue of LGBT youth trafficked in Florida, finding they make up a disproportionate amount of the state's homeless youth— an already growing group—and are three times more likely to turn to the sex industry to survive. 

Monday at 1 p.m. on Gulf Coast Live, Bethany Gilot, the Human Trafficking Director with DJJ, explains what the report tell us about human trafficking in South Florida, and the prevalence of sex tourism in the region.

Also joining the program are Lowell and Sandy Senitz with Wings of Shelter International, operating two “safehouses” in Southwest Florida helping girls saved from sex trafficking.

Editor's note: During the course of the show, certification for safe houses and safe foster homes was described as only a recommendation. As per Florida statutes governing the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, certification for safe houses is mandatory and must be documented with the Department of Children and Families.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
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