ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Now when you drive down Fulton Industrial Boulevard you now see one of the latest efforts to curb sex trafficking.
“The point of our billboard campaign is to show the pain and suffering, to show how these young women and men have been victimized,” said Deborah Richardson with the International Human Trafficking Institute (IHTI). Richardson is talking about the regional effort to tackle the area’s sex trafficking problem.
“The city of Atlanta has the largest sex economy out of eight major cities and one of those cities is New York,” added Richardson.
According to a study from the Urban Institute, Metro Atlanta’s sex trafficking industry generates over $250 million a year. To combat the problem eight counties and multiple agencies have joined forces. The effort includes educating the public, personnel training and placing 23 billboards along all major highways which would have the potential for nine millions views per week.
“It’s very jarring when you read some of the captions such as, “you found me on the internet, your family will find you in jail”, because our messages are directed to towards those men who are buying sex,”said Richardson.
The billboard features pictures of dolls that were created special for the project and the dolls represent those being trafficked, in some cases they even show the injuries the victims experience.
“We really wanted to shock and aw. One of the things we learn is that to impacts man’s psyche, it’s important for them to be touched in a way that their spirit is disturbed. We want people to be disturbed. We want people to be shocked. We want them to go wow this is horrible. I want them to have a kind of visceral reaction.
Officials say more billboard will be going up in the coming months.
Metro Atlanta’s sex trafficking problems and the efforts the coalitions is making to solve it will be featured in the documentary ‘Bondage’, it will debut at the Civil Rights Center in August.