The Suffield Woman’s Club (SWC) welcomed Annmarie Boulay from The Underground, Lighting a Way to Freedom, to their October 9 meeting.
The Underground is a grass-roots, faith-based initiative dedicated to ending sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in Connecticut. The statistics shared by Mrs. Boulay are frightening. We think that human trafficking happens in third world countries, but that is not true. It is growing in the United States and it is happening right here in our area. In 2016 alone, there were 638,200 online sex ads and that is an increase of 64% over 2015. Mrs. Boulay says that if even only 1% involves children then that number is 6380 children! Mostly they are girls, but boys are involved as well.
The SWC members were educated on the many signs in recognizing someone who might be involved in human trafficking or coercion. A young girl that suddenly has more money than seems right; she starts wearing way too much make-up; having a boyfriend that is much older; growing away from family and friends; and more.
A child doesn’t need to be kidnapped to be a victim. Some children are pulled in through social media and then are blackmailed into doing more.
Mrs. Boulay said that language matters. For example: the child is a victim or survivor not a prostitute, the seller is a pimp or trafficker and the buyer is not a “John” but the buyer or the rapist.
We hope this makes you feel like you want to take action. A tax-deductible donation is welcome, but everyone can help even if it is only by sending encouragement cards or blankets to organizations like The Underground that will give them to the children that they are working with to transition them back to a normal life. She shared the hotline number 800-842-2288…If you see something-say something. The hotline is anonymous. Wouldn’t you rather be wrong than to not call and have another young child or teen have to live through another night in that environment.
Annmarie Boulay can be reached at 860-242-8996 ext 12 or The UndergroundCT@gmail.com.
The Suffield Woman’s Club is a proud member of the GFWC.org. Contact us at 860-965-9305.