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Originally published Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM

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Editorial: Support strategies that help victims of sex trafficking

Parallel efforts continents apart combat the sex trafficking of minors.

Seattle Times Editorial

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ON two separate continents, in two different cultures, efforts to end the sex trafficking of minors are under way with remarkable parallels.

Washington state has passed 33 laws since 2002 clamping down on sex traffickers and improving funding for victim support.

Emergency shelters help former teen prostitutes rebuild their lives.

The Legislature last month created two statewide committees to coordinate local and regional efforts against sex trafficking.

In India, Urmi Basu, a former social worker in Kolkata — the city formerly known as Calcutta — used $200 to launch New Light, a place for the children of sex workers to play, have meals and, most important, be safe from sexual exploitation.

A school offers young girls at risk of being sold to brothels an education and better opportunities.

Protection. Shelter. Opportunities for a better future. These are key strategies everywhere for helping victims of sexual exploitation.

UNICEF estimates that 1.8 million children worldwide are pushed into the commercial sex trade each year.

Efforts by Basu and, locally, state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess and many local law-enforcement officers and social-service advocates are examples of the critical work.

India has the largest number of human-trafficking victims in the world.

Basu is undaunted by the scope of the challenge to save as many of the victims as possible.

Basu was in Seattle recently to raise awareness and money for a boy’s residential home. Sons of sex workers have few male role models to point them toward futures outside of trafficking.

In the 21st century people are still sold for sex or labor. Efforts on two separate continents to end sex slavery deserve attention and support.

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