In Oklahoma City in 1913 two men came to speak in several churches - three Methodist, one Congregational and one Presbyterian - on the problem of 'White Slavery." ("White Slavery Will Be Discussed Here", Oklahoman Feb.23,1913;6). Dr. E.R. Fulkerson and Dr. F.H. Essert were passionate about the need to halt the loss of young lives into dissolution, prostitution and even death through what we would call human sex trafficking today.
Fulkerson was a medical doctor and had been a consulate to Japan and was considered an expert in social science. Essert was an evangelical Methodist minister who crossed all denominational lines to communicate the message that they preying on young women and young boys had to cease. He was also a member of the World Purity Federation.
In 1915 Roe, also of the W.P.F. co-authored with Walt Louderback, The Girl Who Disappeared. It chronicles some of the methods, stories and challenges faced in fighting human trafficking in the first dozen years of the 20th century.
Strangely, today, as we see a renewed emphasis on putting a halt to victimizations of women, girls, and boys for sex and other trade, it is clear that in a century little inroads were made in the halting of this terrible practice.
Essert in a mass meeting of men in Lawrence, Kansas " told of the danger of girls from good homes being decoyed to serve the purposes of these vultures, he deplored the existence of a double standard for men and women. As a cure for the evil Dr. Essert stated that the people of the nation must be educated to realize the dangers that beset them and to develop more self-control. It was a strong address, to the point and yet not in the least suggestive." (Lawrence Daily Journal-World, June 13, 1913).
Nearly 160 years after the outlaw of slavery based on race. the F.B.I. lists human sex trafficking as the most active form of modern slavery and states: "Although comprehensive research to document the number of children engaged in prostitution in the United States is lacking, an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation."
The basic methods outlined in The Girl Who Disappeared are little changed according to the FBI webpage: "Today, the business of human sex trafficking is much more organized and violent. These women and young girls are sold to traffickers, locked up in rooms or brothels for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized, and raped repeatedly." Noting that "These continual abuses make it easier for the traffickers to control their victims. The captives are so afraid and intimidated that they rarely speak out against their traffickers, even when faced with an opportunity to escape.."
Methods seen in Oklahoma City, like so many other places, from its earliest days.
The staggering, earth-shaking question is "why is it still going on?" The forced abduction, abuse, and exploitation of children and youth for sex is a mystery that lingers...haunting....demanding attention and resolution. Too often these are the people targeted as worthless and disposable by serial killers. Now, a growing global economy is being fed by criminal elements to create a market and supply the need for children (male and female) and for young girls and women. Who will solve this mystery and place it where it belongs - in the dusty realm of history.