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Human Trafficking Info

The Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synodical Women's Organization (SWO) is part of the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) - WELCA. At the 2014 Triennial Convention, delegates passed resolutions asking Women of the ELCA to address commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Click HERE for more information on the Women of the ELCA's efforts to help stem the tide of Human Trafficking.


If you suspect trafficking in your community, call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888 or email NHTRC@Polaris Project.org.


Click HERE to view the FBI's October 15, 2016 announcement of the results of their nationwide human trafficking operation, "Operation Cross Country IX."

Sex Trafficking:  A Mother’s Story

October 1, 2018:  Part II of a three-part special report on teen sex trafficking in northern Virginia by Wallicia Gill and Brad Swanson. Part I gave background on the problem. (See below for Part I.)

Janet B. has lived through a nightmare that no parent who has not experienced it can imagine: her teenage daughter Sophie (the family’s names have been changed) was trapped into a sex trafficking ring for nine months.

Click HERE to read the rest of the story ... [Also, see http://blueview.org/2018/10/01/special-report-part-2/.]

Special Report:  The Reality of Teen Sex Trafficking in Northern Virginia

August15, 2018:  Teen sex trafficking in northern Virginia happens every day, but most people know very little about this horrific crime, even though experts say that our region is a hotspot and the practice is growing.

Scare stories are easy to come by. But hard data is hard to find.

This is Part I in a three-part series by Wallicia Gill and Brad Swanson.

Click HERE to read the rest of the story ... [Also, see http://blueview.org/2018/08/15/special-report-the-reality-of-teen-sex-trafficking-in-northern-virginia/.]

Airline Employee Saves Girls from Sex Trafficking Plot

An American Airlines employee saved two young girls from getting on a plane to meet someone who authorities suspect is an online predator. The girls, 15 and 17, hoped to travel from Sacramento to New York to go spend time with a man named “Drey” they met on Instagram, KOVR-TV reported.


Before the girls had even attempted to go through security or board the plane, airline agent Denice Miracle immediately knew something was off judging by the way they were interacting with each other, she said.

“I think the way they kept looking back-and-forth at each other, like they weren’t really sure," Miracle told KOVR. "And then they were texting someone on the phone, and that person was giving them answers."

Click HERE to read the rest of the story ... [Also, see http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article200507139.html.]

Our Latest SWO HT Report

Thanks to Wilma Dublin, her efforts on following Human Trafficking Awareness and activities to thwart HT perpetrators continue to keep the members of our SWO aware of what is happening both locally and globally. Click HERE to view her October 2017 report.

Our SWO Efforts in the News!

Spearheaded by the diligence of our Vice President Wilma Dublin and her committee members, their efforts on Human Trafficking Awareness have made the churchwide Women of the ELCA news! Terry Lackey, Director for Communication of churchwide Women of the ELCA, wrote the story for the Women of the ELCA "News & Events" section and also published it in the April 1, 2017 issue of the monthly "Bold Connections" e-newsletter. You can read it at http://www.womenoftheelca.org/march-2017--hitting-the-streets-news-522.php?category-id=6.

Hotline News

The NHTRC—National Human Trafficking Resource Center—has changed its name. It is now the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH). The number 1-888-373-8888 remains the same confidential, multilingual hotline that provides survivors of human trafficking with vital support and a variety of options to get help and stay safe. They also continue to be a source of actionable tips for law enforcement and expertise for the anti-trafficking community working to eradicate human trafficking. (Source:  National Human Trafficking Hotline Monthly Newsletter,  humantraffickinghotline.org.)

Online Exploitation of our Children

Backpage.com announced the shutdown of its ‘adult’ section of classified websites. The announcement came on 1/6/2017 when Backpage.com executives appeared before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation (PSI). During the hearing the executives refused to answer questions, citing their First and Fifth Amendments rights. They had been using methods to sanitize advertisements to hide the sex trafficking of children from public view and from law enforcement. (Source:  Shared Hope International President who attended the hearing.)

Heartwarming News

The SWO HT Committee’s Poster Campaign was a success. They sent English and Spanish posters from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign to our WELCA units and churches, asking them to help by posting them in their churches and on local bulletin boards--click HERE to view the English poster and HERE to view the Spanish poster. They also helped promote January 11, 2017, as Human Trafficking Awareness Day; these plans included worship resources, a bulletin insert, a brochure, and a poster--click on each of these items to view them.

Poster Campaign against Human Trafficking

Poe Middle School teacher Jessica Ittayem was recognized by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for helping raise awareness about human trafficking during January, which was designated in the county as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Ittayem, founder of Poe’s Girls Group, helped students in the club set up a campaign to educate their classmates about human trafficking. They posted photos and information on Instagram and Facebook, handed out bracelets and buttons from the Just Ask human trafficking prevention project, sold items made by victims, and created a video. (Source:  The 2/2017 Annandale Blog, School News, ‘Poe paragraph’.)

Airline Ambassadors

Since 2009 flight attendants have been working to make sure that when a trafficker flies with a victim, the flight crew is trained to spot and report them. Read about a recent rescue on a flight. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/human-trafficking-flight-attendants-fight-back-for-victims/ar-AAmBZ6a?li=BBnbfcL      


A Compilation of WELCA's Collective Work against Human Trafficking

Click HERE for a PDF of the Women of the ELCA’s SWO’s collective work against human trafficking, compiled from information gathered at the 2016 Conference of Synodical Presidents held last February. Kathy Meier, our SWO president then, contributed the Metro DC SWO’s efforts—many thanks to Wilma Dublin and her committee!

Of the compiled report, Women of the ELCA Executive Director Linda Post Bushkofsky says, "It's an extraordinary collection of efforts and should serve as an inspiration to all.” The SWOs who contributed their information are listed numerically/alphabetically by synod number; we are "8G-Metro DC” on the top of page 11.

Please share this link and information with your churches and especially your women!



"Human Trafficking: Get the Facts and Take Action" Public Event

On January 31, 2016, a public event was held at Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center, Fairfax, VA, which gave out information about trafficking occurring in our area as well as opportunities to participate in efforts to increase awareness and support victims. Click HERE for more information.


SWO "Human Trafficking" Committee Update

~ Wilma Dublin, Committee Chair

On June 18, 2015, we had our first event hosted by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Alexandria, VA. About twenty seniors, mainly women from the community, attended along with two officers from the Alexandria PD. The Alexandria police officer who works with Human Trafficking (HT) surprised us by claiming that Alexandria does not have a teen HT problem, just adult prostitution. However, the audience was engaged as the officer showed news clips and survivor testimony videos that addressed the problem in general within the USA.

Fellow committe member Barbara O’Keefe and I addressed the “What can we do?” question. We were able to distribute fliers to the attendees and to stress the importance of raising awareness and of talking to their grandchildren, and, that by just attending the event, they had already started their education about HT.

One outcome:  A recently retired health care professional and member of Good Shepherd asked for information/referral to become a volunteer to actually work with victims.

We are very grateful to Pastor Jen and Good Shepherd for hosting the event.


Recap of "LOVE THY NEIGHBOR" Plenary Session on HT

Metro DC Synodical Women's Organization's Annual Convention held at The Village at Rockville on Saturday, April 11, 2015, was a huge success! The morning Plenary Session was a discussion on Human Trafficking, which helped to raise our consciousness on what is really going on in our world... and possibly in our own neighborhoods. While the topic is a tough one to learn about, the
presenters did an excellent job of educating us about this incidious problem. The Rev. Dr. Charles H. Oberkehr, pastor of Epiphany
Lutheran Church of Mount Vernon in Alexandria, introduced the three speakers.


Our first speaker was Gail Hambleton, Vice President of the Global Peace Foundation-USA, Director of Interfaith Partnerships, and National Director of the Safe Haven Campaign, Interfaith Alliance to Abolish Human Trafficking. Ms. Hambleton has been a driving force in humanitarian aid for women, both internationally and here in the USA. She spoke about the efforts to introduce the Safe Haven Campaign—which is now active in eight states—to the churches in our area, which involves teaching congregants how to
recognize when a woman—especially a young woman—is in jeopardy and introducing effective ways to help without putting yourself in harms way, even if that help is just to call 9-1-1.


We next heard from G. Zachary Terwilliger, who is currently an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia-Alexandria Division and the Co-Chair of the Northern Virginia Task Force on Human Trafficking. Mr. Terwilliger spoke to us on his experiences with federal grand jury investigations and jury trials involving organized crime and gang prosecutions with respect to the human trafficking problem—I don’t think any of us in the audience had imagined the extent of the problem or how long such things have been going on both internationally or even in our own neighborhoods.

Even more eye-opening was the testimony of Barbara Amaya, who is much more than a survivor of domestic sex trafficking—she is an internationally recognized award winning advocate, speaker, author, and survivor leader in the movement to eradicate modern-day slavery. Her testimony and telling of what she endured was riveting, brutally honest, and poignant. For those of us in the audience, it was also difficult to learn about what she suffered and the truth of what is going on in our world— even in our own neighborhoods—but it was a message we all needed to hear and to learn what we can do to help.


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