This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.
Most people don’t believe that it’s going on in their own backyard, human trafficking.
The local chapters of two historic sororities have come together to combat the problem in Prince George’s County, Maryland, creating the United for the Fight Human Trafficking Initiative. The Psi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Prince George’s County Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. have joined together to bring awareness to the issue.
Miriam Brewer, president of the Prince George’s County Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, says, “We’re stronger together. We really are united in the fight against human trafficking.”
Benita Swindell is the president of the Psi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
“We found that through this collaboration and strategic focus that we’ll all be able to have an additional positive impact on this very important topic.”
Why is human trafficking such a problem in Prince George’s County? Brewer says, “It is a hot spot because we’re so close to I-95, close to major transportation routes; trains and airports.”
They are holding a series of free human trafficking awareness webinars.
The first one, “Human Trafficking 101” will be held Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. via Zoom.
It will feature experts on human trafficking such as Renee Battle-Brooks, the Executive Director of Prince George’s County Office of Human Rights and Chair of Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force.
Battle-Brooks says sex trafficking is motivated by greed.
“It exists where greedy people exist.”
What exactly is sex trafficking? Battle-Brooks describes it as, “Engaging in a sexual act in exchange of something of value.” She says it’s often money, but not always.
And it requires force, fraud or coercion.
Battle-Brooks says vulnerable people, such as those who may be struggling socioeconomically, or who may be victims of domestic violence may be reassured with promises from traffickers.
Some of those claims, she says, include “I am going to provide for you. I’m going to make you a big recording artist. I’m going to find you stable housing. I’m the only one who loves you. I can help you get a better life.”
She says survivors look like you and me, just like traffickers look like you and me, “They are male, they are female, they are transgender, they are young, they are old.”
Battle-Brooks says the task force was set up with three mandates:
- To identify and recover victim survivors, of human trafficking
- To increase the quality of the prosecution of the traffickers
- To educate the public because we need everyone to combat this.
Battle-Brooks says they collaborate with many entities such as government and nongovernment agencies, faith-based communities and organizations like Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta.
Swindell says, “We just want to make certain that everyone is aware and educated.”
To find out more about the event go to PreventHumantrafficking.evenbrite.com.