CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Unitarian Universalist Church on Charleston's West Side will host an evening to shine a light on sex trafficking, which endangers between 100,000 and 300,000 American children each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The main speaker at the forum, "U.S. Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery," will be Sister Anne Victory, who is education coordinator for the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking, based in the Cleveland and Akron, Ohio area.
The group's mission is "to educate and advocate for the prevention and abolition of human trafficking" and to provide "services on behalf of trafficked persons."
Mary Sullivan, a local member of Seneca 2, a local women's organization, said that in West Virginia a lot of human trafficking stems from drug problems.
"We have heard stories about mothers essentially selling their daughters to their drug suppliers. People need to be alert to what is happening," she said.
Between 800,000 to 900,000 people are trafficked across national borders every year, according to the Collaborative Initiative website.
"Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Victims are young children, teenagers, men and women," the Collaborative Initiative says.
"After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today, and it is the fastest growing."
Men who are victims of trafficking are most likely to be exploited for forced labor, while women are more likely to face sexual exploitation.