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“Until our solutions look into the negative secondary effects of legal forms of sexual exploitation, they will be ineffective and incomplete. Strip clubs are interconnected and inseparable from sex trafficking,” said Melissa Holland, co-founder of Awaken.

After battling with addiction of her own, Holland became sober at age 20 and moved to China where she taught English for four years. She then moved to Reno to be near her mother, and that’s when she learned there were no local organizations helping women in prostitution. In May 2011, Holland, along with her friend Jen Robinson, founded Awaken, and anti-trafficking organization.

“Over the years Awaken has helped hundreds of local Reno victims out of the sex trade. Stories of the survivors of commercial sexual exploitation consistently testify that strip clubs act as a launching pad to sex trafficking and other horrendous criminal activities. The sex trade occurs, not in neat silos, but on a connected continuum looking for vulnerable women and children. Traffickers target locations such as strip clubs looking for vulnerable women and children. Our downtown should be a safe place for children and families. Families and children should not have to worry about walking on the same street as traffickers and buyers of women and children,” Holland said.

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According to Holland, “There are many things we can do to change this broken system. The solution of the Reno sex trade is going to be a multi layered approach, one piece of that solution is the rezoning of adult businesses. Allowing strip clubs to remain illegally zoned is not just negligent but actually makes us a part of the problem.”

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On Wednesday, September 13, 2017 the Reno City Council voted 5-2 to move the strip clubs away from downtown Reno. The Reno Planning Commission will now hold two more council votes before a final decision is made. STAY TUNED to hear what those in support of the strip clubs staying at their current locations are saying about the topic.

Check out these organizations who are fighting back against the sex trafficking epidemic:

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