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'Unholy Tour' takes legislators to Atlanta's sex trafficking hot spots

Georgia lawmakers tour hot spots for the sex trade in metro Atlanta.

Georgia lawmakers are boarding a bus and will be guided to key areas where sex trafficking takes place in metro Atlanta. The tour is being organized by Commissioner Tim Echols with the Public Service Commission to show the realities of the sex trade in the metro Atlanta area from the vantage point of a charter bus.

11Alive's Christie Ethridge rode along with the legislators and streamed it live on Facebook.

The tour has also taken place in Savannah to bring attention to sex trafficking on Georgia's coast.

In 2015, legislators took the tour and news reporting on it is credited with helping save two victims. Apparently, a grandmother called the news station worried about her granddaughter who had been missing. She connected with a representative from 4Sarah who found the 14-year-old being sold on backpage.com. With the help of DeKalb police, both girls were rescued.

4Sarah is a non-profit organization with the goal of caring for and empowering women who are adult entertainers, sex workers and victims of sex trafficking. A representative from the organization will be leading the legislators through the tour on Monday.

On this tour, they are stopping by motels, the greyhound bus station, strip clubs and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. These places were chosen with proximity and traffic in mind and are just a sampling of the places sex is sold.

11Alive is committed to bringing attention to the growing problem of sex trafficking. Our investigation called Selling Girls takes a hard look at how these criminals are targeting America's children and peddling them to the highest bidders.

Here are some sobering and shocking numbers we found in our investigation.

  • 83 % of sex trafficking victims in the country are U.S.citizens.
  • 94 % of those victims are female.
  • The average age of child victims is only 15 and a half.

The internet is a big part of trafficking. At some point, 63 percent of child sex trafficking survivors were advertised online. So what's being done?

However, children can still be charged with the crime of prostitution in 31 states even though by definition they are victims of trafficking and not criminals. Nineteen states do not define child sex trafficking as a form of child abuse.

Learn more about warning signs and hear from those who survived.

DIG DEEP | SELLING GIRLS: Sex traffickers are targeting American children

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