PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Washington-based nonprofit that works to end the sex trafficking of young girls in the U.S. held a fundraiser at a Center City restaurant Wednesday afternoon. Three champions of the cause were honored, including DNC CEO Leah Daughtry.
Rights4Girls executive director Yasmin Vafa says holding the event at South Kitchen during the Democratic National Convention points to a sobering fact — that sex traffickers look to cash in on such big events.
“There are trends that we see traffickers actually moving young women and girls into host cities,” Vafa said, “potentially to take advantage of that demand.”
Vafa says girls of color, who are disproportionately exploited by sex traffickers, and disproportionately criminalized for being victims of sex trafficking.
“Our young girls, who are trafficked for sex in the United States, are too often labeled child prostitutes, labeled teen sex workers,” she said, “and they’re actually arrested and incarcerated for being victims of what in any other case would be statutory rape.”
Kids in the child welfare system are among the most vulnerable to traffickers.
“These are the kids that are floating under he radar. “Traffickers know to target these kids, because no one is looking for them.”
Ellyn Jo Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church heads a program called ‘She’s My Sister,’ which works to raise awareness.
“One of the things that’s interesting to me about the issue is we feel comfortable talking about it across the ocean, when it’s right in our back yard,” she said.
Although child sex trafficking is a complex problem, Waller says both the mayor and police commissioner are committed to doing whatever is necessary to aid in the fight.