At its core, human trafficking is the exploitation of people’s emotional and physical vulnerabilities for profit—and it is highly profitable. Globally, human trafficking generates $150 billion a year for traffickers, with two-thirds of this income deriving from commercial sexual exploitation. The issue of human trafficking can be broken down to simple economics, supply and demand. People tend to think of human trafficking as a female issue, but 99.9% of the buyers of these forced and coerced sex acts are men and, surprisingly, many of them use the same words that sex workers use to describe their experience—shame, scared, lonely, trapped—to describe what drives them to buy sex. We must address this demand side of the equation with wisdom and compassion, and acknowledge that a man’s journey to buying sex is just as broken as women’s journey to being sold. In so doing, we can hold men accountable in an empowering way to stop a commercial sex trade industry that is exploiting the most vulnerable people in our city and world.
Kristin Keen has spent her career creating opportunities through business for women caught in human trafficking to have access to a new life. While living in Kolkata, India, Kristin witnessed the life-stealing effects of human trafficking on a daily basis. In 2005, she helped co-found Sari Bari, a thriving business that now employs more than 120 Kolkota residents who create handmade blankets and other products from traditional fabrics.
Upon her return to Jacksonville, Kristin felt called to fight human trafficking on a local level. Rethreaded was created from the recognition that, for the victims of human trafficking, the biggest need was for a safe, supportive work environment where they could earn money while learning a skill and experiencing continued healing through community. Since its inception in 2012, Rethreaded has employed more than 35 women and provided more than 55,000 hours of work for survivors of human trafficking in Jacksonville. In 2015, Kristin was honored as a “40 Under 40” award winner by the Jacksonville Business Journal and was chosen as one of Girls Inc.’s “Women of Vision.” In 2016, she was recognized by the Florida Retailer Federation as Outstanding Retail Leader of the Year. Kristin was a member of the Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2016. When she’s not at Rethreaded, Kristin is usually biking, doing yoga, or swimming in the ocean at sunrise.