WASHINGTON, DC – Human sex trafficking is a threat to the children of Washington DC. Andrea Powell, co-founder and executive director of FAIR Fund , a nonprofit dedicated to fighting human trafficking and sexual violence, joined us along with youth survivor and Fair Fund advocate, Asia, to share her story.
Speaking out against domestic sex trafficking and the passing of the Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act at a briefing on Capitol Hill last week with actress, Demi Moore, and Congressman Chris Smith, Asia testified how a pimp lured her with promises of an escape from her “dead-end life in Milwaukee”.
Traveling between Wisconsin and Illinois, Asia’s pimp exploited her for two weeks posting her cell phone number on Craigslist.
One of her callers, a pimp just outside D.C., offered her a wire transfer to come to the District where he began sexually exploiting her in a hotel in College Park.
“Day after day for one month, the pimp took me around Dallas, Philadelphia and D.C.,” Asia testified. “The calls never stopped, and I could never rest or even shower.”
The average age of entry for female prostitutes in the United States is between 12 and 14 years, and children and youth older than 12 are prime targets for sexual exploitation by organized crime units, according to a 2001 Department of Justice report.
“I think many Americans are more willing to accept that there are girls enslaved in Cambodia or Delhi, and really can’t imagine that it’s happening right here,” actress Demi Moore said at the briefing Tuesday. “As a society, we owe it to them to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Arrested after a local police sting operation, Asia was later charged with prostitution and released with no money, contacts or job skills; with little knowledge of the area, Asia returned to her pimp before deciding “enough was enough” and escaping.
Bouncing between stranger’s homes and shelters, a shelter employee soon connected Asia with FAIR Fund.
FAIR Fund provided Asia clean clothing, housing at the Covenant House shelter and provided access to health care job training.
FAIR Fund builds the capacity of communities to better identify and assist youth aged 11 to 24 who are at high risk or have been exploited via human trafficking and sexual violence and has active programs in Bosnia, Chicago, Illinois, Serbia, Russia, Washington, D.C, and Uganda.
The nonprofit assists victims through preventative education workshops, outreach to exploited youth, and art therapy for girl survivors.
FAIR Fund also provides adult ally training to teachers, social workers, educators, police, judges, lawyers, medical professionals, and students on how to best identify and assist high risk and sexually exploited or trafficked teens.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, private European and U.S. foundations, individuals, and the Danish government, FAIR fund trains local governmental officials, social workers, teachers, and local law enforcement on how to best protect youth in their communities from sexual violence and human trafficking.
FAIR Fund will hold a gala Thursday at the Embassy of Austria at 3524 International Court, NW.
The 4th annual “Pearls of Purpose” Gala will celebrate and raise critical support for FAIR Fund’s work to stop the sex and labor trafficking of youth worldwide.
Guests and hosts include current and former members of Congress, foreign dignitaries and other supporters.
Fox viewers can receive discounted tickets to the event by entering promo code Fox on FAIR Fund’s website.
“It is my hope that Congress will pass the Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act introduced last December by Senator Wyden so that more girls can receive the help that they need, when they need it, just as I did through FAIR Fund,” said Asia.