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We often associate sex trafficking with other countries. But unfortunately this despicable practice is taking place in the U.S., including here in Missouri.
A story that appeared in the recent edition of Flourish, a Southeast Missourian special publication for women, addressed this issue. The numbers are alarming. According to statistics from International Crisis Aid, an organization that raises awareness and support for victims of this abuse, 1.2 million children are trafficked every year in the United States. The average age: 11 to 14 years old, with 30 percent of all American victims initially sold into this slavery by their parents.
The good news is that more people are learning about the issue and working to help those affected by it. International Crisis Aid is one such group. The organization is building a home in St. Louis to house women subjected to this abuse, and the group has found a helping hand in Southeast Missouri.
Linda McKinnis started an ICA-Heartland group in Cape Girardeau, and the group's first fundraiser was in January at Outback Steakhouse. Other fundraisers are scheduled for this fall, in addition to the organization's ongoing sales of soda tab bracelets -- a fundraiser that also holds a symbolic meaning for women discarded but now entering a new chapter in their lives.
Hats off to the local International Crisis Aid group. Your efforts to raise awareness of this issue and support for the victims is important, and we applaud you for making a difference.
If you're interested in learning more about this group, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the group's Facebook page.