Chattahoochee Valley residents take action against human traffic - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Chattahoochee Valley residents take action against human trafficking

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Villains hiding in plain sight. Masked men concealing their identities during public appearances in order to help rescue victims. This is not a Marvel comic book. It is the reality of the hidden world of human trafficking as it exists on the dark side of American culture, and many Columbus residents believe the problem is much closer to home than is commonly known.  

While no official statistics exist yet on just how active the underground sex trade may be in the Chattahoochee Valley area, as the issue begins to come into focus, some Columbus residents are wasting no time in putting up a fight.

Not too far from the Chattahoochee Valley, Atlanta is already a well known hub for the underground sex trade industry, according to the Trafficking in America Task Force.

Judy Farrell lives in the Chattahoochee Valley, and attended a sex trafficking seminar with an organization called Street Grace based out of Norcross, Ga. "I learned at the seminar that this industry is bigger than Wal-Mart, Google and Microsoft put together. It's a billion dollar business, and that's why this is so difficult to really tackle," she says.

Farrell has made arrangements for Street Grace to give a seminar in Columbus next weekend for community members interested in learning more, and combating the issue. She says victims of sex trafficking are mostly teenage girls, they can come from any socioeconomic background, and end-up on the streets either by running away from home or being kicked-out.

"If they don't get to these children within the first 48 hours that they're out [on the streets], traffickers pick them up," says Farrell. "They offer them a life that has clothing and food and all the basic necessities, and the kids go with them, and then they're trapped."

Grant Collins, Pastor at theDoor in Columbus, says the church is working to catalyze a movement against human trafficking, including a street outreach to victims of the sex trade, which they plan to launch on Valentine's Day. They will also be hosting a public event to raise awareness for human trafficking by showing the film Nefarious: The Merchant of Souls on Friday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m.

"Really, this is to begin a conversation," says Collins. "We don't have a full grasp of what the epidemic looks like here, but with Atlanta being so close, and being one of the primary hubs of sex trafficking in the world, and especially in the US, certainly Columbus has been affected and impacted."

Anyone interested in attending either event with theDoor can learn more at https://www.facebook.com/RedeemColumbus.

The Street Grace seminar will take place on Friday, Jan. 31, from 6-8:30 p.m., and Saturday Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. Anne Catholic Church in Columbus. For more information, call Judy Farrell at 706-957-6256, or email her at twocreeksfarm05@yahoo.com. For more information about Street Grace, visit streetgrace.org.

For immediate information on the definition of human trafficking and how it exists in our culture, visit the Trafficking in America Task Force website http://www.traffickinginamericataskforce.org/

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