Approximately 200,000 United States citizens find themselves bought and sold into sex slavery within this country’s border each year, according to the Department of Justice. Many of those victims pass through Arkansas and Oklahoma on Interstate 40.
Participants in John Brown University’s newest ministry, Students Against Sex Slavery, said they want to make these facts known.
“It’s not something in a foreign country,” said freshman Krista Gay, the ministry’s leader and founder. “Girls are being sold like meat right here. Sex slavery is such an issue here in Arkansas.”
Sex trafficking ministries frequently focus their work on an international level. Gay said Students Against Sex Slavery differentiates itself from these ministries by concentrating its efforts on raising awareness for sex trafficking in Arkansas.
“We really try to figure out how we can work locally,” Gay said.
The ministry has joined with Partners Against Trafficking Humans—a rehabilitation organization based in Little Rock.
According to the organization’s Facebook page, its mission is to “provide safe housing and a program of restoration and reintegration for rescued victims of human trafficking and prostitution.” Their goal is to offer “hope for healing, personal growth and future success.”
Students Against Sex Slavery plans to contribute to the rehabilitation center by raising $1,000 over the course of the semester through fundraising events in order to support one woman through a month of treatment.
Junior Joel Reindel, the ministry’s co-leader, said he and Gay want to get people talking and thinking about the fact that sex slavery is an issue in the United States.
“We’re trying to target more than just getting the word out but getting people involved. We want to get them doing something,” Reindel added.
“People either don’t know about sex slavery in Arkansas, or they let themselves forget about it,” Reindel said.
Gay and Reindel said they hope their ministry will prevent University students from forgetting about sex trafficking and motivate them to do something about it.