TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The community got a closer look at sex trafficking Thursday night. The Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Unified Response Network showed a screening at The Loft Cinema of the movie "I am Jane Doe" that highlights stories of victims of sex trafficking on the website Backpage.com with a history of controversial sex ads.
"I Am Jane Doe focuses on a real issue and that is Backpage.com and we know that so many of the young girls that we see being exploited are being exploited through Backpage," said Sheila Kembel, a Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Coordinator at Pima County Juvenile Court Center. "These are our children in our community. This could be our next door neighbor, this could be a daughter of someone we work with and there is no real cookie cutter approach to be a victim of this so we have to understand this could be anybody we know."
Kembel says last year Pima County Juvenile Court had more than 1,300 runaway referrals.
"When you think of that, that is 1,300 opportunities traffickers had to grab onto these young children and exploit them," she said.
Tucson Police Department has its own unit for human trafficking. Supervisor Benjamin Frie says people get confused when it comes to prostitution. He says many women involved are doing it for their own free will, but many others are not.
Frie says the biggest advice he gives for anyone in that situation: "Reach out to us we are savvy, we will work with you."