I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I first stepped through the door of the charming Victorian house that the Investigator Academy would be held in for two weeks. Like many others, I had assumed that human trafficking consisted primarily of sex trafficking (a large part, but merely a part of) a much bigger, more disturbing picture. With 25 other citizens from all walks of life, I learned about the reality of child soldiering in Uganda, debt bondage in India, and forced prostitution in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.
What shocked me even more however was the prevalence of sex trafficking that takes place every day in the United States. I shockingly wondered how 100-300,000 children could be at risk for being trafficked every year. My jaw dropped when I learned that the average age of entering prostitution is 12 and getting lower every year. After learning all these facts, I became even more convinced of my role in this fight. If there had been any doubt in my mind that this was the fight I was meant to fight, I had it no longer. But what could I do? What would be the primary mission of STOP for Girls?
After hearing testimony after testimony of well-meaning organizations that strove to provide aftercare for the number of victims of sex trafficking, I decided that what the U.S. really needed was an organization that not only educated but also empowered. We need an organization that will tell these girls that “yes, sex trafficking is real and it’s really scary and you are at risk, but you can fight it. You can refuse to take part in it.”
I parted from the amazing group of individuals who I’d befriended over our two-week time period together feeling sad about leaving my new friends, aware of the reality of trafficking and empowered to make a change. I am spending every day learning everything I can about domestic minor sex trafficking and slowly piecing it together to launch STOP4girls.com. Look for the website and more information about human trafficking coming soon!