She is Safe: addressing trafficking in Oklahoma

Tribune News Service
Charts showing the victims of human trafficking in the U.S., by gender, age, ethnic origin; includes information on how victims are used. The Kansas City Star 2009

With BC-TRAFFICKING:KC, Kansas City Star by Mark Morris

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Marie Bagwell
Staff Writer

At 12 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the Wichita Room, the Wellness Center hosted speaker DeAnna Sanders from the non-profit organization She Is Safe (SIS).

SIS aims to “prevent, rescue and restore women and girls from abuse and exploitation in high risk places around the world, equipping them to build lives of freedom, faith and a strong future,” according to the SIS mission statement.

Sanders said she has been with SIS for the past three and half years, working out of her home in Duncan, Okla. with mainly girls and women in Indonesia.

Even though SIS is an international organization, they also help raise awareness of human trafficking in the United States.

“The reality is it’s happening right now, around our world, in our state and in your city,” Sanders said. “Women and girls are being trafficked.”

Human trafficking is an issue of global slavery and a question of power and enslavement.

“It is an organized criminal activity that takes away a person’s freedom, and they are coerced into a life that they did not bargain for,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the majority of girls in the United States who are taken into human trafficking are runaways, children from broken homes and children who have been abused sexually and/or physically.

“Traffickers work in a way to feel like they are helping the girl, and she doesn’t know the difference at that moment in time in her life,” Sanders said.

The traffickers will treat the girls well, make sure they are fed, clean, given somewhere to stay and often bought nice things like jewelry and cell phones. Sanders said the girls are often lured into a false sense of safety and security, but that quickly changes.

“They are drugged, they are manipulated and they are repeatedly raped over and over again until they are subjected to the will of their traffickers,” Sanders said. “Then they have no recourse, then they don’t know what to do.”

Oklahoma is a hot spot for human trafficking because of the intersecting interstates, I-35, I-40 and I-44. This intersection gives the traffickers ease of getting their subjects to major cities and even to Canada.

According to the 2014 “Trafficking in Persons Report”, “The United States is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children – both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals – subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor, including domestic servitude.”

Nearly 30 million people are trapped by modern day slavery, which includes sex and labor trafficking. It is the largest growing crime in the world and the third-largest crime behind drug and weapons trafficking.

Sanders said even though awareness is being raised, trafficking is still a rising issue because people are willing to pay and are always going to be willing to pay.

Another problem, Sanders said, is that people know it’s happening, but they aren’t willing to help. She said it’s important to become educated about what is happening locally and to make some noise to legislatures.



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