Church to rock against traffickingPublished 10:55pm Wednesday, March 6, 2013
For many people, the phrase “human trafficking” brings to mind sex slaves in Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia. It’s not a big problem in the U.S., they believe.
But according to the U.S. Department of Justice, federally funded task forces investigated 2,515 suspected human trafficking incidents between January 2008 and June 2010.
Eight in 10 of these suspected incidents were classified as sex trafficking, and about one in 10 as labor-related.
In one sex trafficking case in the Eastern District of Virginia federal law enforcement jurisdiction, which includes Suffolk, a 28-year-old illegal immigrant from El Salvador pleaded guilty in February to recruiting a 15-year-old girl for a prostitution ring.
Yanira del Carmen Guerrero Andrade, a woman, lured the vulnerable teen into a Northern Virginia ring run by her boyfriend, a news release states.
On the first day she was trafficked, according to the release, the teen had sexual relations with about 17 customers. The number of encounters rose to 25 on the third day.
To help provide relief to the victims of such shocking crimes, young congregants from Suffolk’s Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church are planning a live concert March 16.
Stopping Traffic 2013, featuring bands, a silent art auction, a jewelry sale and refreshments, will take place in the WRPC Youth Room, 3488 Godwin Blvd., beginning at 6:30 p.m.
“This is our fifth year,” said Kimberly Roddy, the church’s youth ministry director. Back in 2009, she said, youths from the church “had a vision to have local bands come and play to raise funds to fight human trafficking.”
The teen who spearheaded the initiative back then had traveled to a summer conference in Atlanta.
“He came to say, ‘I think we need to fight human trafficking.’ … He was hearing stories from other students,” Roddy said. “This is not just something happening overseas; it’s happening here.”
Tickets for the event are $10, with proceeds benefiting the Gray Haven Project, a Virginia group helping trafficking victims from Central Virginia to rebuild their lives.
Jewelry to be sold at the event, from Women At Risk International, has been made by trafficking victims from various parts of the world. Profits are returned to the group, which also helps rehabilitate victims.
Four bands currently scheduled for the event are all composed of high school students, Roddy said, and the art up for auction is donated.
“We use a lot of artwork to decorate the room,” she said, adding that youths organizing the event, led by Hayley Miller, Alexis Metzgar and Aryn Jeanette, have been designing T-shirts that will be for sale.
“We are organizing teams of students and pairing them up with adults to run the event.”
Teens need to be aware of human traffickers using social media to lure their victims, Roddy said.
“I think kids can walk into these situations without realizing it,” she said. “They know how to manipulate (and) it’s a big-money industry for them.