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Human Trafficking enslaves innocent victims

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Human Trafficking enslaves unsuspecting teens  and immigrants which is much more common in the metropolitan area than the small towns.

Human Trafficking enslaves unsuspecting teens and immigrants which is much more common in the metropolitan area than the small towns.

Maya Saldivar

Human Trafficking enslaves unsuspecting teens and immigrants which is much more common in the metropolitan area than the small towns.

Maya Saldivar

Maya Saldivar

Human Trafficking enslaves unsuspecting teens and immigrants which is much more common in the metropolitan area than the small towns.

Kenna Luttrell and Asia Hays, Staff Writer

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 “He pleaded with me and told me in so many words, ‘I want you to have sex with this guy for money, I was very uncomfortable and I kept saying no. I didn’t want to do it. He kept telling me, ‘If you love me, you will do this. It’s just one thing. Just try it.’’’

   Human Trafficking contains the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. Human trafficking has two main categories: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking,is when someone is trafficked for the sole purpose of sex. The targets are usually runaways or teens with unstable households. Labor trafficking , which is most common, usually entails immigrants or people that are paid below minimum wage under harsh conditions. Under those two categories there are subcategories, like people who target either children and adults.

  According to Unwomen.org, Across the world, millions of women and girls live in the long shadows of Human Trafficking whether ensnared by force, coercion, or deception. They are in limbo, in fear, and pain

   Tonya Fernsby was only 13-years-old when she first met Eddie Dankworth, who lived in the same apartment complex. At the time, she was living with her mother in Dallas, Texas. Eddie had a wife and a daughter who was in the same class as Tonya. 

    “It was a casual relationship at first. You could see there was a mutual connection. I thought he was cute,” Tonya said.

   They would often run into each other at the grocery store and around town. This is where they first exchanged numbers. As their relationship progressed,  they got more serious

    “ I could tell he was really flirtatious with me. We would talk and flirt a lot, but it was not much more than that until we met again when I was 15.” Tonya said.

    When Tonya turned 15 she ran away from home and eventually moved in with Eddie who was 38 at the time. At the beginning everything seemed normal, She would do all the housework, and sometimes babysit his kids. One night at a party filled with drugs and alcohol, the relationship took a turn. He continued trying to get Tonya to have sex with random guys for over 30 minutes, finally, she gave in.

    What Tonya thought would be  a one-time thing became an everyday routine for the next few months.

    She didn’t know how to get out of the situation without letting Eddie down or making him mad. Tonya felt lonely and helpless.

    “He made me feel like I was doing it because I loved him, and in the end, we’d have a really good financial reward.” Tonya said

   Finally, a year later, ICE and HSI received a tip on Eddie’s business and moved in to arrest him. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his crimes. At the time, Tonya felt ashamed and judged when having to open up to people about the situation, but now her main focus is on rebuilding her life and focusing on herself.  

    Tonya plans to take on journalism and study political science and pre-law. Instead of running from her past she’s learning to accept it and grow from her traumatic past.

   “I felt I deserved it and I couldn’t escape.  But now I know that this isn’t true. I’m taking one step at a time and getting counseling and going to church. I’m a lot stronger than I knew. God will help get through this and move on.”

 

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)