The Oklahoma House of Representatives recently reached unanimous approval of measure that would wipe charges of prostitution off the criminal records of victims of human trafficking.
Alannah Selinger is one of the co-founders of the OU chapter of Freedom Movement, a Christian sex trafficking awareness group. She says she discovered her passion about non-profits and activism while in college, and has become especially enthusiastic about combating human sex trafficking.
“Its not just something that’s happening in Europe and across the ocean,” Selinger said. “It’s happening in our backyard! Literally, down Lindsay Street there are places that have human trafficking. It’s so freaky to think that it’s happening in our city. It’s happening in Oklahoma City, it’s happening in Houston, where I’m from; you know it’s happening everywhere. “
The Department of State says between 14,500 and 17,500 human beings are being trafficked into the US annually. Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors.
It has been argued that Oklahoma City is highly attractive to human traffickers because of the intersection of a major North-South thoroughfare I-35 and the East-West artery of I-40.
OU student Lacy Sorrels volunteers for The Freedom Movement. She says she was struck when she realized she fit the profile for someone likely to be targeted.
“I care a lot about it because there are four characteristics of someone who is at risk for human trafficking: being abused as a child, low income, no education and being in foster care. I fit three out of those four.” Sorrel’s said. “How can I be here at OU, awesome school, awesome friends, you know just such a great community and not do anything for them, when statistically I should be in their spot.
The Freedom Movement’s goal is to raise awareness about sex trafficking through documentary nights, benefits, and their most recent event called Stand for Freedom.
Co-founder of The Freedom Movement, Allison Whittmeyer says volunteers will rally on OU’s campus for just over a day.
“Throughout the 27 hours we’ll be having different events and raising awareness,” Whittmeyer said, “we want to be on South Oval just doing who knows what, we are thinking about doing a kick boxing class and helping people learn how to defend themselves in times like this, that’s just like so close to home.”
Co-founder Alannah Selinger traveled to Uganda on a mission trip in 2011 where she visited a group of homes dedicated to women and children who had just escaped the bounds of human trafficking. She explained how her perspective on the problem was drastically changed by that experience:
“I mean you hear 27 million and you’re like ‘Oh man, that’s a lot!’ but when you have a face with it, when you have, like this little girl that I am hugging and taking pictures with and she is literally 7 years old and she got rescued out of sex trafficking a year ago, like, that makes it real. It’s not 27 million, now its Anna and that hurts because now I have a relationship with this little girl now.
“Stand for Freedom” begins march 14th at 8 in the Morning and will last 27 hours.