A display of around 250 shoes designed to call attention to the problem of sex trafficking went on display Thursday in the lobby of the City Administration Building in downtown San Diego.

Sex trafficking in San Diego. Image via TheGuardian.com
Sex trafficking in San Diego. Image via TheGuardian.com

Called “Sole Sisters,” the exhibit includes everything from children’s shoes to high heels. Stories from survivors and information about the extent of sex trafficking in San Diego are included in the presentation.

A recent study by Point Loma Nazarene University and the University of San Diego estimated that there are 5,000 new sex trafficking victims a year in San Diego, which is listed as a “high-intensity child prostitution area” by the FBI.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan said the solution has to come from the public.

“Victims don’t report, they don’t call 9-1-1,” Stephan said.

“They think that they’re the problem — their traffickers and abusers convince them that they are the issue, that they are a shameful person,” Stephan said.

“We need the community to be the eyes and ears, to look for the signs, to see a young girl in a hotel with an older male with a plastic bag and no suitcase, a girl that doesn’t have identification, a girl with a look in her eyes like she doesn’t know what town she’s in, what hotel she’s in and who’s going to buy her next.”

She said people need to call police when they see young women and girls in such circumstances.

The display was created by Aliza Amar, founder of the nonprofit Breaking the Silence Together, which is designed to raise awareness of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking.

Last week, the City Council declared January to be “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in San Diego to bring awareness to the problem.

— City News Service