Did you know that human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry? Did you know that in the U.S. 14,500-17,000 people are trafficked each year? AND out of that number, most are the ages of 12 to 14 years old and are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
As a woman and a mother to a little girl, this sickens me.
I want to introduce you all to the Soteria Initiative, a business here in Phoenix, AZ who fights for these women and second chances.
Sex trafficking and terms like “modern day slavery” usually conjure images of young girls being sold to sex tourists in faraway countries. Movies and documentaries feature scenes of tourists being kidnapped and forced into sexual servitude. Sex trafficking is a real and growing problem all over the world, including here in the United States. It defies stereotypes and experts continue to build new knowledge about the issue.
– The Soteria Initiative
Why in Arizona?
Arizona’s geographic location and network of freeways makes it a hub for illicit activity. The same economic forces that fuel tourism in Arizona also support sex trafficking – warm weather, multiple interstate highways, proximity to the border, short drive to Las Vegas and San Diego, major conference destination, and it is home to many professional sporting events. According the U.S. State Department, Arizona is a main destination and transit point for labor and sex trafficking from within the U.S. and multiple regions of the world. The Department of Justice has identified Phoenix as one of the top human trafficking jurisdictions in the country
– The Soteria Initiative
The Soteria Initiative works with women who have escaped the sex slave industry. They employ them to make these beautiful necklaces shown below. A penny, with a word of empowerment stamped in the middle. Why a penny you may ask? Pennies are often thrown to the side with little value, the same kind of message that has been imprinted into the minds of these victims. The Soteria Initiative is flipping the script on this kind of thinking, and giving pennies a new purpose while employing these women so that they can start a new life.
It gives me chills. The passion and grace behind this company is evident and they are bringing about serious change here in Phoenix.
How Can You Help?
Head on over to their website and shop their beautiful necklaces with code ARROWS20 for 20% off! I have one of my own, and it is stamped with the word strong. I chose that word after reflecting on a time where I felt like a penny. Losing our two babies this past year left me questioning my value. But our family got through that incredibly hard time, and I now feel strong.
What will your word be?
All pictures of Berklee and I are by @annarochelleimagery
Enter to Win!
My friends over at the Soteria Initiative are giving away one of their Penny Pendants in hopes that the lucky winner will continue to spread the word about this growing epidemic.