Every Set of Eyes Open to the Signs can Save a Life

Uber driver reports suspicious behavior. His passengers now face child sex charges
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Monday, December 05, 2016 06:20PM
ASTON, Pa. (WPVI) --
An Aston man is the first Delaware County resident to be charged under Pennsylvania's new human trafficking law, according to law enforcement officials.
Only Action News was there as Matthew Sipps was taken away by detectives after being charged under the law.

, USA TODAY9:07 p.m. EDT October 6, 2016

The top executive of the online classified portalBackpage.com and two of the company’s controlling shareholders were charged on Thursday with felony pimping charges in the state of California as authorities alleged the web site operators were effectively running an “online brothel.”

Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage, which runs its operations out of Dallas and Amsterdam, was arrested after arriving in Houston from a flight from the Netherlands.

Courtesy of the Delaware State News

 · by 

DOVER — Zoë Ministries Inc. is bringing many resources together in hopes of combating Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Delaware.

Zoë Ministries sponsored the first statewide Human Trafficking Conference on Thursday at Dover Downs, which brought together law enforcement, victim advocates and community providers in Delaware.

“We are building a groundswell in Delaware,” said Yolanda Schlabach, executive director of Zoë Ministries and co-chair of the Victim Services Committee of Delaware’s Human Trafficking Coordinating Council. “Our goal is to create a paradigm shift within our state as we work together as partners to fight trafficking.”
Ms. Schlabach said that Human Trafficking and CSE are realities in Delaware. In fact, CSE is the second most profitable crime in the United States, after drug trafficking, enslaving an estimated 300,000 youth and netting traffickers a minimum of $32 billion annually.

Trafficking involves girls, boys, women and men.

Ms. Schlabach said the problem in Delaware is evidenced by postings on explicit websites such as backpage.com, non-licensed massage parlors and spas, prostitution arrests, and the high number of runaway and “throw-away” children.

“It’s about cross-system collaboration and working differently to achieve a different result,” said Ms. Schlabach. “We need to create a way out of trafficking for the victims and provide them a path to recovery.”

Thursday’s event took a look at the national and regional picture of trafficking and discussed strategies for responding to trafficking survivors.

“A crucial component to prosecuting the traffickers is to help the victims feel safe and supported,” added Ms. Schlabach.

Speakers at the conference included: Sen. Margaret Rose Henry; Secretary of the Delaware Dept. of Health and Social Services Rita Landgraf; Jeff Barrows, founder of Gracehaven; Allison Blake, commissioner, New Jersey Department of Children and Families; Barbara Loftus, Survivors in Abuse and Recovery; Dr. Amy Thompson, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children; Hugh Organ, executive director of the Covenant House in Philadelphia; Linda Shannon, program manager for the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Families and Susan Brotherton, director of the Philadelphia Social Service Ministries, Salvation Army.

The conference was supported by: The Matt Haley Trust, Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Delaware Health and Social Services, Sexual Assault Network of Delaware, Soroptimist Seaford, Survivors of Abuse in Recovery, Inc. and Delaware Commission for Women.

Zoë Ministries is a faith-based non-profit whose goal is to serve Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking survivors by providing long-term, comprehensive treatment using the infrastructure that is currently in place in Delaware.


The so-called 'life'- Delaware's sex trade, Part 1

(images via Delaware State Police)


 For the past several months, WHYY's Zoë Read has been interviewing experts about prostitution and sex trafficking in Delaware. WHYY will publish a chapter of the story each day of the week.

The So-Called “Life”

Tammie still has “the walk.”                

The way of moving only recognizable to men on their lunch break looking to pick up women off the street.

“I’ve been doing it since I was 15,” Tammie, 48, said. “I’ve been walking the same way my whole life.”

Her gait and stare used to be intentional to lure men—now it’s unconscious.

When men pull their car over, Tammie, a sex trafficking survivor, continues walking—after a sarcastic comment: “What, you gonna buy me lunch?”

Tammie was involved in prostitution—also known as “the life”— for 30 years. She battled a meth addiction for decades.

“By the time I was [in my 20s] I was at 1,000 guys. By the time I was 45, probably 3 or 4 thousand,” said Tammie, who has been clean off drugs for more than three years. “I’ve been raped, I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been put in the hospital, I’ve been shot at.”

Erica, 28, has been in the life for about 12 years. A transgender woman, Erica dropped out of high school and ran away from foster care at 16. She has been homeless and involved in prostitution ever since.

“I keep my condoms in my pocket book and if I need a couple dollars I go out and find someone,” Erica said. "It’s like a game. Just to see who’s out and who you buck up on.”

She said she’s become immune to the life—but she wants to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s a lot of dangerous situations I put myself in and I’m getting to that point I’m getting really tired,” she said. “It just gets to the point I’m waiting for death.”

Advocates say there are hundreds of women and some men in Delaware who, like Tammie and Erica, struggle day-to-day with the hardships of prostitution.

Many of the women were trafficked and forced into prostitution as children or adults.

Others got into the life to fund their drug addiction, or as a way to support themselves financially when no other option was available.

Many of the women involved in prostitution, trafficked or not, have traumatic histories or deep-rooted personal issues.

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Immediate Volunteer Needs

Zoë is always seeking great minds, great people, and great help!

**More information about our volunteer process can be found here. Please contact us if you are interested in assisting  Zoë Ministries.