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A youth pastor said today that despite being abolished in 1865, slavery continues to occur, and he’s asking men throughout the region to help end it.
“Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery – and it has been documented in all of Wisconsin’s counties. It’s insidious and many times, men don’t realize they’re a part of it,” said Arnold Cifax, a youth pastor at New Testament Church in Milwaukee. “If they’re watching porn, the women or young girls they’re watching could be part of the sex trafficking industry. If they’re at bachelor parties or at a club and invite women to do lap dances or things of that nature, they may be helping sex traffickers – modern slavery.”
Cifax is a board member of Convergence Resource Center (CRC), a faith-based nonprofit community service organization that today launched its second annual HEMAD (Human trafficking Educators working with Men and boys to stand Against the Demand) campaign. Cifax showed a short video that dramatizes the issue of human trafficking and how men can play a key role in ending the demand of sex trafficking.
The HEMAD project was designed primarily for men to take a stand against the demand of sex trafficking. Last year, 3,000 men took the HEMAD pledge. Organizers hope at least 6,000 men in Southeastern Wisconsin will take the pledge this year. The five-week campaign lasts until Dec. 28.
The first 50 men who visit CRC’s offices at 7961 N. 76th Street (near Bradley Road) and take the HEMAD pledge will receive a polo shirt with the HEMAD logo and a silicone wrist band stating, “I’m mad and I’m taking a stand against human trafficking.” Individuals or groups can go online to watch the four-minute video and then register and take the pledge at https://www.convergenceresource.org.
Joining Cifax were State Rep. Jason Fields, UMOS Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator Joshua Beaton, representatives from law enforcement agencies, faith-based groups, community service organizations and other community leaders.
“Statistics show that one in three runaways will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home – about 300,000 children are at risk of being sex trafficked each year in the U.S. – and the average age of entry into prostitution is 14,” said Beaton. “The average pimp has five girls who see an average of 30 “clients a day – seven days a week. Milwaukee is known as the ‘Harvard of Pimp School’ and the region ranks among the top metro areas in the U.S. for the recovery of adolescents. We must put a stop to this!”
“This is a multimillion-dollar industry that exists in urban, suburban and rural areas in Wisconsin that we need to put out of business. The demand will always be there, but we can squash that demand by publicly taking a stand,” said Fields. “It’s an issue that has bipartisan support. I challenge my fellow community leaders in the state assembly, the state senate, county commissions and city councils, school boards, civic organizations, churches and block watch groups to take the HEMAD pledge and share it with their constituents.”
Fields added that more than 49,000 cases of human trafficking have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888 or text 233733) in the past ten years and the number of human trafficking cases in the U.S. has risen every year.
“In 2018, more than half of the criminal human trafficking cases in the U.S. were sex trafficking cases involving only children,” he said. “And traffickers are using online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking. So we, as citizens, need to act – now!”
Beaton noted that a report last year by the Medical College of Wisconsin found that 340 individuals ages 25 and under were confirmed or believed to be victims of sex trafficking in Milwaukee between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2016. Of those analyzed for the report, all were U.S. citizens or had legal status, 97 percent were female, 65 percent were African American, 55 percent were under age 18 when they were first trafficked for sex while the other 45 percent were between the ages of 18 and 25 when they were first trafficked; 25 percent had been trafficked multiple times.
Cifax sought to put a face on the issue by noting those trapped in sex trafficking could be someone close to many people.
“Have you ever thought about the fact that it could be your daughter, it could be your aunt, could be your mother?,” he said. “I think it’s time for us men to take a stand.”
About Convergence Resource Center
Convergence Resource Center (CRC) is a faith-based nonprofit community service organization providing support for men and women rebuilding their lives after trauma with an emphasis on justice involved women and female survivors of human trafficking. It is a contracted member of the Milwaukee Joint Human Trafficking Task Force (MJHTTF). To learn more, call (414) 979-0591 or visit www.convergenceresource.org.
Human trafficking Educators working with Men and boys to stand Against the Demand (HEMAD) is a program of Convergence Resource Center directed at men on the importance of ending human trafficking. To learn more, contact HEMAD@convergenceresource.org.