'It begins with a girl' and 'rescue is not an event; it’s a process' were slogans displayed by co-sponsor Transitions Global (TG) during the Human Trafficking Awareness Event held at the University of North Florida. James Pond, TG Executive Director, was present, helping to educate the audience and answering the many questions that arose from its interested participants.
The event’s guest included Neth and Liya, two beautiful girls from Cambodia who were once victims of sex trafficking. As their counselor interpreted and re-told their very similar stories, the hush within the room was profound. Everyone appeared to be focused on listening to each word that they spoke.
Neth and Liya were sold into brothels at tender ages (14 and 15). Both girls suffered the atrocity of physical and emotional abuse while being used for sexual services during a time when their concerns should have been about girlish crushes and the color of their fingernail polish. Both were rescued and brought to TG where they resided in its shelter and received counseling, life-skills and educational courses, and other programs that have brought them to where they are today—independent young women who are fulfilling their dreams. Both agree that talking about their experiences is healing, and so they are compelled to be a voice for other girls who are still trapped in the nightmare of sex trafficking.
TG is proud of its 86% success rate (measured by the percentage of girls not returning back to the commercial sex industry). Perhaps this high rate is due to their realizing each girl is special with individual needs. Perhaps it’s because they comprehend that the level of abuse and trauma endured by each victim necessitates more structure. Perhaps it’s because TG helps 'their girls' either restore their dreams or build new ones. But most likely, their success in transitioning victims into survivors comes from a combination of all these elements.
TG Advocacy Director Seth Johnson said, ‘We provide after-care for girls rescued from sex trafficking, but we now need funding for our residential home that houses 20 girls, our transitional home for four to six girls, and all of our programs. If we don’t have the money, we can’t help them. One-time donations can be made online at www.transitionsglobal.org. We’re a 501(c)3 organization, so now’s a good time to donate in order to get an end-of-the-year tax deduction.’
So, it might have started with a girl, but Neth and Liya continue to speak-up against the travesties of child sex trafficking in hopes that one day soon, it will end for all girls.
For more information on how to get involved, email Seth at Seth.Johnson@transitionsglobal.org.