“Their time is up.”

At the 2018 Golden Globes Awards–an event that usually highlights the successes of the film and television industries–many female colleagues in the industry used the event to highlight the violence against women that has occurred throughout history and to call our society to action.

Regardless of your personal or political thoughts on current movements that shed light on sexual assault, these sentiments resound loudly in the anti-trafficking movement and deserve to be discussed on today–the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

How do movements that address sexual assault, violence against women, and gendered discrimination relate to UnBound fighting sex trafficking?

It is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. But in those numbers, we often lose the people who are being sexually assaulted with terrorizing frequency. Rape and sexual assault is faced by victims of trafficking on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

And often, a history of sexual or physical abuse could make a person more vulnerable to being trafficked for sex. Sexual assault perpetuates more sexual assault in many cases.

But the deeper root of the relationship between sex trafficking and sexual assault involves cultural and individual practices and beliefs, including objectification and commodification of women. Obviously not every person in Western culture holds these ideals, but generally women have historically been objectified and viewed as means to and end. When a society views a person as such, it is easier to believe that using them in selfish ways is acceptable.

If a person is raised in a society or home that condones even subtle violence and objectification of women, there is much more of a likelihood that this person would find other acts of violence and objectification–sexual assault or even buying sex (sex trafficking)–acceptable, as well.

A culture of sexual assault is the breeding ground for a culture of purchased sex.

Both sexual assault and sex trafficking involve preying on the vulnerable by a person in a place of greater power (gender, race, or socioeconomic status, to name a few power differentials). Sexual assault and sex trafficking are perpetrated by a person for their enjoyment at the expense of another person. Oppression and exploitation of a person considered weaker or lesser than are at the root of sexual assault and trafficking.

If sexual assault and unwanted sexual acts stopped, there would be no trafficking. When forced sexual acts or encounters cease, so will sexual assault and sex trafficking.

Victims of sexual assault and sex trafficking often fear speaking up about the violence incurred or, if they do, they are not believed. But, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements hope to end the silence. And, on today’s National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we hope to bring a voice to those still in silence.

Will you join us?