An increase of sex trafficking in Northern Nevada has sparked an effort by local, state and federal agencies to try to save the exploited girls and prosecute their pimps, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal. Many experts see a shift in the way these cases are handled, and they hope changes in the law will help stop the victimization of the girls.Melissa Holland, founder of Awaken Inc., a Reno-based non-profit group that supports victims of sex trafficking, said she worked with 40 exploited women in 2012 and 25 so far in 2013.
Girls as young as 11 are being exploited, said Carla Higginbotham, an assistant U.S. attorney in Reno who specializes in prosecuting juvenile sex trafficking cases. Chalmers said the average age of the girls who enter “the life” is 14. A new state law this year toughened penalties for pimps and created new opportunities for the treatment of victims. The next step will be a change in the public’s perception of the crime as well as the prostitute’s perception of herself and her predicament, experts say.