and other sites advertise women

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9) -- Tonight, a disturbing look inside the world of sex trafficking.

According to the DC-based advocacy group FAIR Girls, the average age of a trafficking victim is just 13. Vulnerable young women are getting trapped in an industry which is thriving just a few miles from the White House.

"This entire world is based on lies and criminal activity," said Andrea Powell, the founder of FAIR Girls.

She showed us how, on a random weekday afternoon, young women being sold for sex in the DC area are just a keystroke away.

"These are the number of ads on adult escort section just for Thursday, 1 o'clock in the afternoon," she said, tapping away on a computer keyboard.

On websites like, traffickers sell girls who appear to be under the age of 18. They have even branded some of them with specific tattoos, indicating which young women they control.

"If you are sold into sex trafficking, you're a modern-day slave. And that pimp isn't going to make you leave, because you're probably making a thousand dollars a night for him," said Powell.

One photograph depicts a young girl on what appears to be a motel bed without a bedspread. Traffickers often remove them to avoid revealing their location.

"She also can't stand up on her own power. She's been drugged," added Powell.

In modern-day sex trafficking, girls from the DC area and nationwide are often unwittingly lured into the trade after being 'discovered' on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Said Powell, "Sometimes they'll use other girls who will say like we're having a singing competition, or a modeling competition, or a scholarship competition. Girls will come up, thinking that's what they're going to be doing, but when they get there, when they get to the hotel, or even when they get to the airport, they realize they've just been sold into trafficking."

Powell tries to locate young victims and get them the help they desperately need. But one girl she showed us was moved constantly from DC to Phillie to New York to Miami. Until she simply vanished.

"Probably she was either arrested or she got killed. Because she was very active and then suddenly not," explained Powell.

At FAIR Girls, the average age of the girls they help is 16 and most have already been sold for sex for four years.


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