Ivy Nichole wants to not only educate the community on the truth about human trafficking but also ask a dire question.
“I always wanted to be a daddy’s girl. You know? Treated like a princess and called pretty. Sadly, his absence led to insecurities and poor decision-making. I can’t change the past but I can impact the next generation of girls,” says Ivy Nichole, founder of Let’s Have Girl Talk Mentoring Program.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. In the months leading up to the day of Nichole’s event at the Church of the Messiah, the media coverage and community concern around the issue seemed very quiet.
However, once the New Year rang its bell, almost everybody had a human trafficking event to commemorate this important issue. From the Detroit Police Department Task Force to a number of state representatives holding coffee and conversations around the issue, the word is getting out.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Human trafficking is a $150 billion a year global industry and a worldwide epidemic. Children as young as 9 years of age are targeted by sex traffickers, with the average age between 11 and 14.
According to the ACLU, approximately 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked each year in the U.S., 80 percent being young girls and 20 percent boys.
The month of January serves as a consistent time for organizations, groups and advocates shedding light on this horrible reality, but there is a need for more conversation around this issue. One month out of the year is simply not enough.
Church of the Messiah and Let’s Have Girl Talk Mentoring Program teamed up to take a stand against the predators, educate the community and protect our children with an event entitled, “When Sex Sells: The Truth about Human Trafficking.”
With the help of panelists and other survivors, Alice Jay (president of Sister Survivors) and C. Yvette Brown (founder of Inspire Detroit Outreach), Nichole and her team want to put the community on notice.
“After being abducted as a child and exploited through the underground world of human trafficking, I wanted to know why God loved all the children in the world but me,” explains Alice Jay to the crowd at the information-sharing event.
Being one of the first women in Macomb County to have her former criminal convictions set aside under the human trafficking laws in Michigan, Yvette Brown was introduced to sex trafficking through “exotic dancing and prostituting throughout the metro Detroit area for many years.”
Rounding out the panel were Prof. David Manville from Eastern Michigan University and the Sparrow Freedom Project as well as Corporal A. Williams, a homicide detective for the Detroit Police Department.
The event, which was held on Saturday, Jan. 25, served as a kickoff for the work Nichole plans to do over the course of the year, including an initiative which asks “Have You Seen Her?”
Have You Seen Her? is a campaign to empower the community to take action and find its missing girls. It combines canvassing and a missing girls database (which allows for community updates), plus a partnership with local law enforcement.
Now that January has come to an end, it will be interesting to see if the upswell of community and representative support around this issue continues with the same force and action.
Featured Image: Human Trafficking, Image by Interamerican Campus Student Presentations, Miami Dade College via flickr.com cc 2.0
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in work around the missing girls in the metropolitan Detroit area, contact Ivy Nichole via email at email@example.com.