COMMUNITY VOICES | Breaking the silence on prostitution in Twin Cities

It’s hard to put an end to a problem that few people know of, let alone talk about. And that’s precisely why the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) is working hard to raise public awareness about sex trafficking and the prostitution of women and children in the Twin Cities through a series of public discussions aimed at putting an end to the practice.Lauren Martin, who joined UROC in 2010 as director of research, has been studying sex trafficking since 2006 after being hired by North Minneapolis’ Folwell Neighborhood Association for a two-year project examining the problem.Martin developed the proposal in partnership with community members after talking with people about what they were experiencing. “I had just finished my Ph.D. and was in between jobs when a friend asked me if I could do some filing at a North Minneapolis non-profit,” she recalls. “I said ‘sure’ and once people in the community got to know me, they told me there was a problem with prostitution and they wanted me to help figure out solutions.”Looking back, Martin remembers thinking her work on the subject would be temporary. But as she interviewed people who been exploited and hurt, as well as advocates and police officers who were trying to help them, she realized she’d become personally invested in the research. Continue Reading