While California has many wonderful claims to fame, there is one distinction the members of the Zonta Club of Burbank would like to eliminate. Along with Texas, New York and Florida, California rounds out the top four destinations in the country for sex trafficking.
This week, signs provided by Zonta Club of Tampa confront politicians, dignitaries and global journalists attending the Republican Convention. Supported by Zonta Clubs around the world, nine billboards remind visitors that the threat to young women exists and is everywhere.
The billboard, at first glance, looks harmless enough: A portly man wearing a gold wedding band adjusts his suit jacket, presumably preparing to tackle some important business deal. A message accompanying the image confirms that a transaction is indeed under way. However, it’s of a more sinister nature. “This man,” the billboard says, “wants to rent your daughter.”
While some may believe this only happens in under-developed countries, the fact is that our local malls are common hunting grounds for teen foster children, abuse victims and runaways. These youth are especially vulnerable to being wooed by predators who might approach them and play on their desire for love and acceptance, or their need for food and shelter. Predators have gone digital as well, using print and electronic media, including alternative magazines and a Craigslist-like website to market their victims to customers.
On Nov. 3 the Zonta Club of Burbank will honor Executive Director Shanna Warren of the Boys and Girls Club in their annual Burbank Woman of the Year recognition. The event is the Zonta Club of Burbank’s major annual fundraiser. Money raised supports local projects as well as efforts to fight sex trafficking, and protect our innocent daughters, granddaughters and nieces from becoming victims of “nice men” wearing suits and a wedding band
Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Zonta Club of Burbank Area