Women tackle sexual trafficking

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Territorial project raises funds, awareness of evils.

by Rose-Marie Leslie, Major – 

(l-r) Commissioner Pat Swyers, Lt. Colonel Debora Bell, Major Rose-Marie Leslie, Adam Freer, and Gordon Bingham display the check for $40,000 presented by Women’s Ministries as seed money for the Network of Emergency Trafficking Services. Photo by John Docter

Sexual trafficking affects millions of people worldwide—of the estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked across international borders annually, 80 percent are female, and up to 50 percent are children. Between 244,000 to 325,000 women and children were victims of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States alone.

The Salvation Army in the USA Western Territory is at the forefront of addressing the devastating commercial sexual exploitation of humans. And, we, the women of the territory, under the leadership of Commissioner Patricia Swyers, territorial president of Women’s Ministries, have determined not to close our eyes to the evils of abuse, exploitation and sexual slavery.

To this end, we designed the Women’s Ministries Territorial Project for 2006 and 2007.

First, we intend to raise awareness and break the culture of silence that exists both globally and locally with regard to sexual trafficking of individuals. Second, we are implementing an action response through fundraising and community action and development.

Commissioner Swyers and Lt. Colonel Debora Bell, leaders of the Women’s Ministries section, report that in 2006, through our programs, the women of the territory conducted specialized focus groups and service projects to address and alleviate the factors of poverty, underdevelopment, and lack of equal opportunity that make women and children vulnerable to trafficking. Additionally, targeted educational sessions to inform both the public and relevant professionals, worship services to pray and be vigilant for God’s direction and affirmation, and legislative outreach to local and state politicians were encouraged and implemented in some areas.

Every Home League and women’s outreach group in the territory took significant action to raise money to help finance this mission. The result is the highest amount of money raised in several years through the Women’s Ministries territorial project.

We are pleased to present $40,000—the amount raised in 2006—as seed money to assist in establishing and stabilizing the Network of Emergency Trafficking Services (NETS). We are also partnering with the PROMISE Initiative (Partnership to Rescue our Minors from Sexual Exploitation) whose mission is to combat the sexual exploitation of children in the sex trade through a comprehensive and holistic manner in order to restore the infinite “promise” that they all possess.

We thank the women of this territory for their bold stand and cooperative spirit in joining this fight.

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