The United Way of Lamar County on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, hosted the inaugural meeting of “Woman United.” Twenty-four women attended the meeting via zoom, including representatives from the District Attorney’s office, the Children’s Advocacy Center, SafeT, Young Life, North Lamar ISD, the REACH Center, Lamar County Human Resources Council, the Lamar County Homelessness Coalition, and others.
Lamar County joins hundreds of United Ways across the nation who have Women United membership groups, with over 70,000 women involved globally who are dedicated to transforming lives and building stronger communities. Locally, the Women United group will focus, at least initially, on bringing awareness and education to the issue of human trafficking.
Human trafficking involves transporting someone into a situation of exploitation. This can include forced labor, marriage, prostitution, and or even organ removal. Also called “modern slavery” with an estimated 20 million and 40 million victims internationally. Human trafficking earns global profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, $99 billion of which comes from commercial sexual exploitation
Globally, an estimated 71% of enslaved people are women and girls, while men and boys account for 29%. In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the US were sex trafficking cases involving only children. Reports indicate that a large number of child sex trafficking survivors in the US were at one time in the foster care system.
Advocates report a growing trend of traffickers using online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the US is 12 to 14 years old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
Kristen Stunc with Alta Terra Realty will chair the Women United of Lamar County and the next meeting will be held in September. All women in our community are welcome to attend. For more information, visit the Women United of Lamar County on Facebook or visit the United Way of Lamar County website at www.lamarcountyuw.org.