The A21 Campaign is a global organization with the mission to abolish human trafficking in the 21st Century. They launched the Lowcountry, South Carolona campaign in June 2012 to raise awareness, be proactive and to educate.
The staff at the A21 Campaign work closely with victims of human trafficking to help them start a new life and get restored. But identifying a victim is not easy. “A lot of times what happens is victims are brought to us after a bust of some sort – when law enforcement are looking for a trafficking ring,” said CaraLee Murphy of The A21 Campaign. Last year alone those types of operations rescued 103 minor victims, some of which were South Carolina natives. The A21 Campaign offers victims a variety of resources, from basic needs, to therapy, to education and jobs.
“A DEA agent we work with sat down with a trafficker once and he said ‘How do you get these young, beautiful girls?’ The trafficker responded that ‘it is so easy. You can walk into any mall in America and find a girl who is alone. You tell her she has beautiful eyes and if she thanks you and walks you let her go. If she shows any sign of insecurity, etc., I know I have her.’ After striking up a relationship, the trafficker smothers her with compliments, says he wants to be her boyfriend, etc.,” said Murphy. “It’s all about filling a void. Once he has her, he tells his victims they work for him now or he will kill her family and hurt and beat the victim.” Statistically a girl who has survived the seven to nine year time-frame of being victimized can successfully go through recovery after being rescued. Most end up taking their own life if they have been abused much more past nine years.
The A21 Campaign has many roles, all centering on protection, prevention, awareness and education. Prevention starts with arming the public and professional community with tools such as what tactics to look for and a written curriculum for ninth and 10th grade classes that is aligned with common core standards. Its Medical Protocol is offered to emergency room doctors. Its Operation Missing Person is geared toward the hospitality industry, training front desk personnel and security and equipping them with a binder with photos of missing and runaway girls ages 11 to 18 years old.
“The last initiate is that we need people help spread the word, talk to people, support the girls,” said Murphy. “We just need the community to rally behind ending trafficking in Charleston, South Carolina, the United States and the world.”
Learn more at Sully Witte’s Moultrie News article: Abolishing injustice in the 21st century.