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Central Florida organization holds virtual event for fight against sex trafficking

WESH Orlando logo WESH Orlando 10/15/2020
text: One Village © Provided by WESH Orlando One Village

Central Florida is being asked to take a stand against sex trafficking on Thursday.

Samaritan Village is hosting a virtual event that will include stories from survivors, law enforcement and other local leaders.

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Florida ranks third in the U.S. in human trafficking cases, behind California and Texas.

“It is happening in every city here in Central Florida, in the good neighborhoods and you know, maybe some of the rougher neighborhoods,” Dionne Coleman said.

Coleman is the head of Samaritan Village, a safe home and therapeutic program for adult women survivors that’s been open for more than a decade.

Coleman is bringing awareness about sex trafficking through One Village, a virtual presentation and fundraiser taking place on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The average age of those who are pulled into sex trade in the U.S. is 13.

“Florida has a lower age of 11 or 12 and I believe in the state of Florida the youngest victim being trafficked was about 3 years old,” Coleman said.

She says the pandemic makes the climate easy for traffickers.

“A lot of restrictions that are put in place to protect us from COVID-19 are actually causing people to go unaccounted for in a sense,” Coleman said.

Things that aren’t helping with that: unemployment and lack of affordable housing.

“Traffickers are going to use that at their ability to keep people in bondage essentially and we are seeing that,” Coleman said.

Last year, Samaritan Village received more than 400 calls for service. Coleman believes going into next year they’re going to double, if not triple the number of referrals to the program.

By February she hopes to have three houses to help survivors.

Click here to fight against trafficking and take part in the virtual event.

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