Human trafficking is not just found in Europe. It is happening right in our back yards in America. These girl’s stories are heart wrenching in their brutality, sad in our response to them, but inspiring when you know the strength and courage of the survivors. Justice for Girls seeks to heighten awareness of human trafficking within communities, using education to empower individuals and groups to actively work to eradicate this injustice.
We share their story with the nation, as well as discuss how we should respond politically and socially to bring justice to the perpetrators and healing to the victims. Through seminars, workshops, public forums, round-table discussions, and partnerships with other organizations, Justice for Girls educates and increases awareness of sex trafficking of children in the United States. Our program is an initiative to:
Key leadership inside the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Interfaith Children’s Movement have announced that they have joined forces to impact sex trafficking, with a focus on young girls and women.
SCLC’s Special Program “Justice for Girls” Director Cathelean Steele, and ICM’s veteran board member Henrietta Turnquest have aligned their leadership and their organizations. Their alliance, they say, will allow both of their organizations to share information and strategize on joint funding opportunities.
The Interfaith Children’s Movement sex-trafficking initiatives include an “Ask Before You Book” initiative. The campaign asks faith communities to pose questions to potential lodging facilities about their sex trafficking policies prior to booking their events, particularly conventions. http://www.interfaithchildrensmovement.org.
New Orleans is a 300 year old city rich in both history and culture. Mardi Gras, the Jazz and Heritage Festival, and the Vieux Carrie or French Quarters are attractions that are internationally renowned. New Orleans is also the home of HBCUs - Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisiana; the Essence Festival, and, the Bayou Classic, where each year nearly 70,000 students and supporters of Grambling State University “Tigers” and the Southern University and A&M College “Jaguars” meet in the Louisiana Superdome in classic gridiron rivalry. It is the city where on February 14, 1957 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was elected President of what became known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Today, with over one-hundred members, the SCLC New Orleans (LA) Chapter is under the leadership of President Dr. Levon A. LeBan. The 2018-2019 Justice for Girls activities were as follows:
The first Justice for Girls activity was a planning breakfast designed to introduce Human Trafficking to Faith-based Auxiliary Leaders in the metropolitan area. Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson addressed the attendees with crucial remarks about trafficking, especially in the metro area.
Months later, Mrs. Cathelean C. Steele was invited to keynote the first Justice for Girls Symposium. Supporting the “awareness” theme where representatives from the: Federal Bureau of Investigation; Louisiana Bureau of Investigation; Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission; Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff; Independent Police Monitor; community leaders and authors, etc. All participated under the banner of the SCLC Justice for Girls Initiative.
The third activity involved 27 youth (23 girls/4 boys) in a Saturday Self-Defense Session where several members of the NOPD (New Orleans Police Department) volunteered to train youth in basic self-defense if approached by a stranger. Also, social workers from the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work spoke to the youth about what to do if they felt uncomfortable around certain family members or neighbors.
A fourth program included a group of parents that were introduced to the Justice for Girls, many of which were unaware of the complexity and severity of human trafficking in Louisiana.
Fifth, this past spring, we presented Justice for Girls Human Trafficking Awareness to M.S.W. classes at Southern University at New Orleans. As a direct result of the presentation, thirty students joined the SCLC New Orleans Chapter!