Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Incarnate Word Sisters Participate in 3rd annual Sex Trafficking Awareness Day

The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, represented by the Congregational JPIC Office and sisters from El Puente Ministry, participated in the 3rd annual Sex Trafficking Awareness Day in Jefferson City at the State Capitol.  The event was sponsored by Senator Jamilah Nasheed, a strong advocate in the MO Senate for stronger anti-trafficking laws and support for victims and prevention.  Around two dozen organizations for throughout the state the Missouri gathered together in the morning to share information and resources about human trafficking.  The CCVI Congregational JPIC Office shared prayer resources, educational resources, and information about US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, a network of religious life working to end human trafficking and support survivors, of which we are members. 

In the afternoon there was a rally where attendees heard from various legislators and government employees including Rep Tracy McCreery, Rep Bruce Franks Jr., Rep Jean Evans, Senator Gina Walsh, Senator Bob Onder, Senator Ron Richard, and Senator Jamilah Nasheed.  MO Attorney General Josh Hawley gave a passionate speech about his dedication to ending all sex trafficking in Missouri and the efforts he has led in the past year including bringing together a coalition of business owners, non-profits, politicians, and law enforcement officials.   

Chiquita Tillman
One of the most powerful testimonies shared was that of Chiquita Tillman, a survivor of sex trafficking.  She courageously shared her story of how she ran away from an abusive household when she was just 15 years old, only to be found and exploited by two different pimps over the next year.  She was finally able to escape thanks to a caring stranger who's family ended up adopting her.  She struggled for many years after that with the trauma she still carried from when she was trafficked, until she was finally able to receive counseling services.  She is now the owner of Rubies INK, LLC and shares about her past to help prevent other young girls from becoming victims.  She is also a strong advocate for more survivor resources and works to empower survivors in their own recovery journies. 
Senator Nasheed

Overall it was a powerful and inspirational day of joining together with others in the fight to end sex trafficking in Missouri and support survivors.  Senator Nasheed shared in her closing remarks that she hopes this tradition will continue in years to come, even after she is out of office. 

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