Every American television or movie viewer is familiar with the story of young girls lured into the sex trade by wily unscrupulous men who haunt the nation's big city bus stations looking for young girls running away from home for myriad reasons or seeking the thrill of a big city or looking to become Hollywood stars.

Screenwriters put together formula scripts about their being "kept" by men and sometimes women, physically mistreated, pushed into a world of narcotics addiction and how sympathetic police officers and concerned allies like storefront social workers and religious orders try to rescue sex workers and slaves from their evil handlers.

The end.

In real life, however, the international sex trade abounds everywhere and many, many young women are victimized beyond resocialization. There are efforts, however, to save and rehabilitate these victims.

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A most ingenious private enterprise group has formed, Threads of Freedom (TOF), organized and staffed by Indian nationals educated in the United States, with business and scientific backgrounds, to find sex slaves and provide safety and nurture to these mostly young women and provide them with healthcare, counseling and, most important, jobs.

The group has made deals with private employers to train and hire former sex slaves for jobs that pay and provide the victims with a way back. Free enterprise.

In many cases, the young women were but children (9 to 12 years old) when either sold into slavery by their families or kidnapped by criminal brokers selling numerous girls to city brothels in places like India; individually from Eastern Europe to brokers in the Middle East or the United States; or Asian girls bought or lured into smuggled trips to the United States with promises of jobs and then forced into sex slavery.

The younger the victim's entry, the harder it is to reintegrate her into society.

The group qualifies victims, protects them, gives them healthcare, places to live, trains them and finds jobs for them at partner companies that hire the victims into jobs with pay, benefits and a potential career. Social welfare by free enterprise.

Most people are unaware that such groups exist or even that there is a need for such groups.

This time of the year — a time for giving thanks and goodwill toward all — is the perfect time to become aware of the international crime and problem of the illegal sex trade and the people it victimizes.

It is time to recognize the magnitude of the problem and dedicate some thinking and perhaps effort to helping save sex trade victims and help, perhaps, groups like TOF find help and nurture these girls.

"Knowledge is power," we have been told all of our lives. To wit:

A 9-year-old girl in rural India, one of eight, nine or 10 children, is sold to a traveling broker for $100. He takes her to a large city and sells her for $200 to a brothel already containing a dozen such children. She is force to drink liquor until drunk and then handed to an old lecher who has paid $500 for the privilege of taking her virginity. After that she is forced to accommodate 15 to 25 customers a day who pay $5 and up for their pleasure. She gets a mat on the floor, some food and clothing and companionship of other girls her age for her efforts.

Or a young girl (16- to 17-years old) in Eastern Europe living in poverty is enticed to accept a job offer as a restaurant hostess in the Middle East and travels there on the prospective employer's dime. Her passport is taken away and she is forced into the sex trade, far away from her family or authorities who might help her; she gives in or disappears.

That is the criminal universe young girls can find themselves in with no one to turn to. Looking to help them are people who want to help. They know what to look for, unlike the average person; they know what to do to help the girls recover from this psychological and physical trauma.

Find them, help them with healthcare, places to live, counseling and jobs to help them reintegrate into a life they may never have known are the goals of Threads for Freedom and its private business partners which manufacture proprietary clothing lines that raise the money to finance the program.

A business partner who hires these rehabilitating people gets orders from TOF. This is a classic symbiotic relationship that benefits all. This is the best of free enterprise. Genius.

Contreras formerly wrote for the New America News Service of The New York Times.