At this very moment, hundreds of thousands are recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In America alone, it is reported that every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted and this includes the heinous crime of sex trafficking. It is reported that women and girls represent 11.4 million trafficking victims. This can no longer be a subject only worthy of awareness. It has to be worthy of ACTION.
On April 4 Queendom Come, Inc., a Houston-based non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring young girls, hosted its first town hall meeting to begin the organizing efforts for the #ProtectOurDaughters campaign against sex trafficking and illegal organ harvesting. The official launch took place March 31 led by founding members who are also citizens of the Nation Of Islam and Muslim Girls’ Training and General Civilization Class.
Sadiyah Evangelista, Co-Founder of Queendom Come and moderator for the town hall meeting, opened with bone-chilling statistics for the city of Houston concerning missing girls and sex trafficking. “What we find is that the girls who go missing are being taken into sex trafficking, and social media is one of the top platforms used to trap them”, she stated. She also made it very clear that it would be up the community to take action, not depending solely on law enforcement or media coverage to bring the much needed attention. Evangelista welcomed everyone who was present and thanked them for deciding to take charge of their community and begin working toward a solution.
The town hall meeting consisted of a panel discussion of women who are also serving as the campaign committee heads. The five committees consist of Awareness, Self-Defense, Victim Restoration, Economics, and Education.
As each committee head explained the details of their respective focus group, the audience engaged with questions about the surge of sex trafficking in the city of Houston. One mother shared her own experience concerning her daughter who was taken from school and trapped into a sex trafficking ring for several months. She expressed that the local law enforcement attempted to convince her that her daughter was a “runaway”. Fortunately, she didn’t stop looking for her daughter, which would pay off months later when she was found. The issue of trusting law enforcement to assist was of great concern.
Valerie Muhammad, Student Southwest Regional Captain for the Muslim Girls’ Training and General Civilization Class in the Nation Of Islam, expressed that the responsibility of protecting our daughters and women in general is on us as a community. “We have to understand and recognize the value of our women. We have to make our communities a decent place to live”, she stated. Coaching parents how to recognize the signs early on was also suggested with the Education Committee. Parents were encouraged and reminded of their accountability to have honest conversations with their children by first being honest with themselves about the reality of sex trafficking.
Other concerns discussed revolved around the lack of involvement of the local churches. Another woman in the audience expressed her disappointment with how her church refused to address such issues and asked, “How can the church heal us if all they want to do is hide us”? In response to her concern, Pastor Sandra Deckard, who is a Committee head and appointed to represent the church community, stated that she would make it her duty to speak with that pastor and any pastor if need be. Her resounding message throughout the town hall meeting was to “shine the light on darkness” no matter where it was.
Kathy Griffin, Founder of the Been There, Done That program for rescuing and mentoring women out of prostitution, shared the reality of girls who run away being an effect of molestation in their home by family members, where as a result they end up being trapped into sex trafficking.
A discussion concerning the importance of following up with girls who are rescued was directed to the Victim Restoration Committee, that focused on the healing process and the mentorship which prevents a revolving door. “65% of women go back if there is no follow up or mentoring”, warned ShaQoya Jasper.
Read more at Hurt2Healing