Child sex slavery and the ABOLISH movement: Abolishing one of Tampa Bay's worst claims to fame

4:00 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- The biggest campaign ever to try to wipe out one of Tampa Bay's worst claims to fame kicks off this weekend.

There's a good chance you may be ashamed and angry when you find out what it's about.

You know we have the beaches and Busch Gardens, but did you know Florida is the number three state in the entire country for reports of children forced into sex slavery?

A new video released by the ABOLISH movement shows a setting the whole world associates with Florida: the beach. Then the tone turns -- quickly.

You watch the real reactions of people when they find out the facts about girls here in the Bay area -- as young as twelve years old -- forced to live as essentially sex slaves, abused by an average of ten men a night.

"I just love Tampa, and the fact that we're kind of a hotbed for this sort of thing is just not ok. And then, having children myself, I just can't -- can't abide it," said Lee Lowry.

Lowry's group, the Junior League of Tampa, is working with another group, Community Campaign, to launch this ABOLISH movement.

Parents, pay attention to this.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found one out of every eight endangered runaway kids reported to them is likely a victim of this.

Kids in the foster care system are at high risk, too.

Pimps target them and prey on them.

They face an awful life of violence, poverty, and forced prostitution.

"When it comes to a child of 13 or 14, it can't be prostitution. She's not making that choice. So, it's -- trafficking," Lowry said.

And it's happening in Tampa Bay.

The ABOLISH movement aims to get all of us here to open our eyes.

So starting this week, billboards with the movement's purple and white logo will catch your eye, the new ABOLISH movement website is live, and a rally with bands and food trucks is planned this weekend.

"We think that fundraising can happen so there can be some safehouses. Awareness can happen so laws can be changed," Lowry said.

"And people will just know so that if they're out in the community, and something seems wrong, they will know where to go and that it might be wrong -- and they should say something."

She's hoping the shocked faces of people on the beach will help you connect to the faceless and voiceless victims trapped and abused every day in the corners of Tampa Bay that aren't so full of sunshine.

You're welcome to join the ABOLISH movement rally on Saturday, Jan. 11, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lykes Gaslight Park in Downtown Tampa.

If you need help or want to learn more, you can text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733) on your cell phone or call 888-373-7888 to reach the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

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Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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