What is MN Girls Are Not For Sale?
MN Girls Are Not For Sale is a five-year campaign of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to galvanize resources to end the sex trafficking of Minnesota girls.
While we recognize that the prevalence of child prostitution has a complex set of root causes, the MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign is specifically focused on decreasing the sex trafficking of underage girls by addressing the following goals:
- Redefine prostituted Minnesota girls under 18 as victims of a crime, and ensure access to holistic services.
- Decrease demand for child prostitution through effective law enforcement and policies.
- Educate and mobilize public support and activism to end the prostitution of Minnesota girls.
The sex trafficking of U.S.-born girls is a pervasive, systemic problem that is happening throughout the state and affects all Minnesotans, regardless of place, race or class. Child prostitution is fueled both by poverty and widespread cultural acceptance of men purchasing sex with underage girls. The issue itself is particularly difficult to address since the girls are most often hidden from the public eye and family members and other adults in their lives do not recognize the symptoms of victimization. The average age of a girl forced into prostitution is 13, and many are as young as 11. The FBI ranks the Twin Cities as one of the nation’s 13 largest centers for the sex trafficking of children.
To address this growing issue, focus must be placed on the true criminals: the pimps who sell the girls and the adults who pay for sex with them. Unjust social norms make it easy for pimps to do their business. We can begin by shifting our focus to the prosecution of pimps and johns, instead of child survivors. We need to show that Minnesota has zero tolerance for persons who sell rape or for their customers who think that purchasing sex from young girls is a victimless crime.
The Role of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
Founded in 1983, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota was the very first statewide women’s foundation in the country. Today, the Foundation remains the only statewide community foundation dedicated exclusively to achieving economic, political and social equality for all women and girls through grantmaking, fundraising, research and public policy. As a bold voice for our statewide grantees and their causes, the Women’s Foundation is a key partner working with grantees, donors and communities to create a dynamic landscape of equality and justice for all Minnesotans.
Our work to advance women’s safety and security is the largest area of annual grant requests, which informed our growing concern about the prostitution of Minnesota girls. State nonprofit partners and law enforcement confirmed that the buying and selling of underage girls for sex is a reality in Minnesota and on the rise.
So in early 2010, we took action on this concern by partnering with the Women’s Funding Network in the national roll-out of “A Future, Not a Past,” a program modeled on Georgia’s successful campaign to stop the prostitution of girls in that state. Minnesota is one of several states implementing this model that will yield national strategies to end domestic minor sex trafficking.
The Foundation built this program on our ethos of listening and responding to community concerns. We know that problems and solutions are found in the same place, and to create a statewide solution, you need statewide partners. In July 2010, we convened over 85 stakeholders—donors, elected officials, state agencies, advocates, corporations, law enforcement, judges, faith communities, and many others—from across the state to create a strategic plan for Minnesota with a clear message that Minnesota girls are not for sale.
With community support, that plan is becoming a reality. We have partnered with leaders of the community representing key stakeholder groups that have expertise on the sex trafficking of girls and have established steering committees of stake holders that includes advocates, business leaders, elected officials, researchers, donors, and the faith community. More than 50 individuals representing these communities continue to be involved as key leaders on grantmaking, fundraising and public education committees. From this early work the Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved a five-year, $5 million campaign to galvanize the resources to end the sex trafficking of girls in Minnesota.