Columbus, Ga- A different kind of bus tour rolled through Columbus on Thursday pulling the cover off the dark and dangerous sex trafficking industry. The “Unholy Tour” provided a glimpse into areas in Columbus where women and children are most vulnerable to sex trafficking.
“Just because they’ve had some hiccups and bumps in the road doesn’t mean they’re not victims,”says Lt. J. Dent Fitzpatrick. “They are victims.”
That was the driving message of the speakers onboard the “Unholy Tour” across Columbus. A mobile intervention of sorts to raise awareness of sex trafficking in Columbus and throughout the state.
“It’s a problem everywhere and these…we’ll call them pimps,” says Tim Echols. “They’re selling these girls over and over again, much like drug dealers in the past used drugs for their income, many of them are selling girls.”
Throughout the ride, passengers saw areas of Columbus considered to be hot zones for trafficking and listened to stories of real victims.Like this one, of a Columbus girl as told by Lt. Fitzpatrick.
“This guy would take her and her sister up to Atlanta, GA-111 miles away and they would dance in a hotel-get this-right next door to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.,”says Fitzpatrick. “She said there were other girls there and she said, “we got money.” She said, “I don’t need to go to school. I have money. I have red bottom shoes.”
But according to Echols, the women who find themselves caught up in the life, often pay a price.
“They’re texting these girls because they give their phone numbers. They’re setting the meet-up and they’re using these girls and abusing these girls,” says Echols.
Echols has a message specifically for young men.
“To all young men out there: if you’re college age or high school…we’ve gotta stop objectifying women. We’ve got to treat them with respect and that includes the way you talk about them and the way you look at them.”
And if you see something, say something. On your side in Columbus, Darian Aaron, WRBL News 3.