WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.– The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is hosting its Regional Conference in Winston-Salem this week, and their focus is what they call a growing problem in our area–human, sex and labor trafficking.
“It is an area of concern for all our children. It cuts across social strata. In the era of social media it is important that our children understand and parents understand it exists,” said Linda Gilliam, Regional AKA President.
The service organization put together an educational summit on Thursday for more than 200 Guilford and Forsyth County middle school students to talk about the issue.
Cameron Cary from Asheville’s On Eagle’s Wings Ministries was the keynote speaker. She says human trafficking is no longer just related to immigrants or foreign women, who are forced to come to the U.S. under the guise of getting an education.
“In general, anyone under 18 who’s stripping, being prostituted or in pornography is considered a trafficking victim,” said Cary.
Cary says many young girls are being coerced into selling their body for material goods or money they couldn’t otherwise get. Much of it happens online and that’s where Cary goes to offer her agency’s help.
“We call cities all over the U.S. including Asheville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and call the ads online and say hey you need anything, are you safe? Do you need somewhere to go help,” she said.
Carolyn House Stewart, International President for AKA, says helping educate young women about this issue fits into the service organization’s mission.
“This is a new hot issue and most of the victims are between the ages of 12 and 19,” says Stewart.
AKA will be hosting its conference for chapters in North Carolina and Virginia in Winston-Salem through Sunday. More than 2700 members of the sorority will be in attendance.
AKA is the oldest Greek organization for African-American Women in the U.S.