Recently the FBI announced the arrest of 150 people in 76 U.S. cities for holding children against their will for prostitution. One of the pimps arrested and two of the rescued children were from the Chicago area. Nationwide, more than 300,000 children and young women are victims of sexual exploitation.
Human trafficking and sex crimes operate in the shadows, preying on young women and often isolating them from their already-strained family relationships. The Salvation Army in Chicagoland has continuously fought to bring these injustices to the forefront of our society, and worked to combat the sex trade, rescue its victims and provide them with treatment and shelter through three different programs.
The STOP-IT Program works with community members, local governments and other juvenile service agencies to identify the signs of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. A 24-hour hotline is available for victim support and referrals to needed support services.
In 2005, The Salvation Army launched its PROMISE program which works to educate law enforcement officials, legal professionals, health care providers, educators and other professionals working in the community on the red flags of human trafficking. These community members also learn how to work with law enforcement to safely remove the victim from the situation.
The Salvation Army also operates Anne’s House, a residential home for young women, age 12 to 21, who are victims of sexual exploitation. In the home, the women find a safe and nurturing environment where they can begin the healing process. The young ladies participating in this program undergo intensive long-term trauma treatment and a variety of therapies as they work to regain a sense of normalcy and independence. Anne’s House is one of only a few homes for victims of sex trafficking in the entire country and often receives referrals throughout the United States.
The Salvation Army is working with Her Story Theater and The Dreamcatcher Foundation to produce “Shadow Town,” a haunting, tragic and transformative play about human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Chicago. The play is inspired and based on real life stories from more than 30 interviews with Chicagoans involved in every aspect of human trafficking – victim, rescuer, predator. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit The Salvation Army and The Dreamcatcher Foundation. To purchase tickets, visit HerStoryTheater.org.
For more information on The Salvation Army’s programs to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation, please visit the website at www.salarmychicago.org.