Jaco Booyens was born in South Africa where he lived with his sister, his brother, and his single mother. At the age of 18, Jaco’s 12-year-old sister went missing and was sold into sex trafficking. Jaco wouldn’t see his sister for another six years.
Booyens was invited by Turning Point USA to give a speech to CMU students about his experiences with human trafficking.
“(Politicians) stay away from the heavy stuff,” Booyens said. “It is a silent epidemic in our country that no one wants to talk about.”
For Booyens, sex trafficking is an “everyone” issue. Regardless of one’s religious, political or social views, sex trafficking is the one thing that is not up for debate, he said.
“We need to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘Stop selling children for sex’,” Booyens said.
Sex trafficking does not discriminate, Booyens said. It can affect anyone from any ethnicity, gender, financial status, or race. The most important thing we can do to help eliminate this problem is to speak up, he said.
“We’re never going to fight this thing unless the public gets involved,” said Booyens.
Students can do certain things to ensure their safety, he said. If something doesn’t quite look right, it probably isn’t. Don’t be afraid to say something. If students start to get a feeling in the pit of their stomach that tells them they should leave a situation, they should leave, he said.
Booyens gave another piece of advice based on his personal experiences. If a student sees a tattoo void of any personal or artistic value, Booyens said it could be a brand. Brands are a common identification tactic used in sex trafficking and students should say something if they see one, he said.
Students should be proactive to protect their fellow students, Booyens said.
“Report smoke, not a fire.”