ST. LOUIS, MO/January 10, 2018 (STL.News) Efforts continue to raise awareness about human trafficking.
On Tuesday evening, the Ferguson Police Department, along with Ferguson Adopt-a-Block and Bott Radio St. Louis hosted a human trafficking forum at Greater Grace Church in North St. Louis County.
The forum consisted of three panelists: Pat Bradley, Founder and CEO of International Crisis Aid, Christine McDonald, a survivor and the director of outreach advocacy for Restoration House of Greater Kansas City, and Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss.
McDonald said the St. Louis area is particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.
“We have a lot of highways here. You have different things that make it vulnerable. Poverty is vulnerability. Single parent households are vulnerability. We’re here in the inner city and sometimes it’s a generational culture.” McDonald explained.
McDonald shared that she first became a victim of human trafficking at the tender age of eight-years-old. She said her mentally ill mother allowed a pedophile to molest her in exchange for rent money.
McDonald said there is often a misconception over adult victims of human trafficking, “when we have adults we maybe see them and view them as choice because they’re adults. We learn that about 88% of them were trafficked as minors, but nobody identified them.”
Eryka Mabus of Hannibal who attended the forum shared McDonald’s viewpoint. In fact she is working to open a Christian-based residential recovery home called Kairos Hope in Hannibal for victims.
“As I went through high school I just really got a passion for people who had sexual trauma in their past, especially adults who don’t get as much help as the younger ones and I want to be able to offer them hope through Christ.” Mabus explained.
Mabus plans to operate her facility through private donations, such as churches and individuals. Anyone wishing to make a donation should contact Mabus via email at email@example.com
Bishop Larry Jones, pastor of Greater Grace Church, is calling for more churches to get involved in the fight against human trafficking.
“I’m concerned about the fact that as churches what are we doing? What are we doing to help make a difference in our communities, not to judge people, but to help people become whole?” Jones stated.
Since 2007, the National Trafficking Hotline has reported over 31,000 confirmed cases of sex trafficking in the United States, with just over 2,000 cases reported in Missouri.
According to experts, human traffickers often use a business such as a nail salon, a bar, or a massage parlor as a front for human trafficking. Other cases involve domestic situations such as a husband prostituting his wife.
Anyone who suspects human trafficking is urged to call their local law enforcement agency or the Missouri Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force Hotline at (844) 487-0492.