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The Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault commends the editorial writer for this piece ["Whored at 12," Jan. 15] on trafficking. It's an issue that deserves national attention, and many people do not realize what a large threat it poses to our children and communities. Virginia has some of the worst human-trafficking laws in the country, recently receiving an "F" for protections for trafficking victims from Shared Hope International.
Given our proximity to Interstate 95, our position between two major cities, and a growing income gap in our population, our community is at high risk for trafficking and horror stories like that of "Brianna."
As a rape-crisis center, RCASA is dedicated to serving and protecting victims of sexual assault. We want to make sure that our community is not only able to prevent this crime, but has the tools to properly identify and respond to victims. Many times victims of sex trafficking are misidentified as child prostitutes or delinquents by law enforcement and end up in jail or detention centers that never treat them as what they are: victims of a heinous and traumatizing crime.
We are taking action. In April RCASA is hosting a conference focused on sex trafficking. It will feature speakers from Shared Hope as well as nationally acclaimed speaker, activist, and sex-trafficking survivor Tina Frundt. The community is welcome to attend (find out more at rcasa.org/conference). We hope this conference will educate, inspire, and help us better address the issue.
We can protect our loved ones from the tragedy of human trafficking. For more information about our services and the conference, call us at 540/371-6771.
Jessica Bell is community services coordinator for the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault.