Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.
by Brendan Welsh
Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA, spoke to yesterday’s seminar group from the Presbyterian Church in Westfield, NJ about her organization's work to protect American children from sexual trafficking. In her organization’s film What I Have Been Through Is Not Who I Am we meet Katrina, a young woman who was coerced out of her job as an Atlanta restaurant hostess when she was 17 by a patron who, unbeknownst to her, was intent on making money off of her through the sex trade. The man gained Katrina’s trust not only by paying for her housing, food, and clothing, but also by offering her the emotional support she so desperately craved from a father who wasn’t there.
Now, years after her horrific experiences on the streets of Atlanta and New York City, Katrina works for GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services), offering support, guidance, and empathy to girls who are now in similar situations to the one in which Katrina found herself over a decade ago. The film gives us a vivid look inside the world of prostitution, including how the men who take advantage of young women select their victims, and what groups like ECPAT-USA are doing to stop this vicious cycle of abuse and torment.
Katrina is truly an instrument of God’s mercy and grace, bringing love and light onto dark street corners, and into the lives of children whom our justice system has often unfairly treated like criminals instead of victims.
Learn more about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Human Trafficking Roundtable and how you can work to help end human trafficking.
Your generous gifts to the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations support the seminar program.