BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — You may have heard about sex trafficking and, like many people, made the assumption it happens somewhere else and not where you live. But, it does happen here. Yet, some Birmingham volunteers aren’t sticking their heads in the sand. Instead, they’re saving lives by walking the streets of the street walkers.
“This house here is a house we’ve been told that some of these people are using that women are using it for prostitution.” – Glen White, Special Ops Leader
Glen White and his friends come out every week to various parts of the Woodlawn area. They call themselves the Special Ops, but, really, they’re just regular people who want to make a difference. The Special Ops are inspired by God, through a messenger named Tajuan McCarty, who escaped the life of prostitution and founded the Wellhouse. It’s the only 24 hour shelter in the Southeast that offers immediate housing for people who want to escape prostitution. She says naive young girls and boys can quickly find themselves spiraling into a life of human trafficking and prostitution.
“Do you want to make some extra money? You know, if you’re single, let me take you out, buy you some clothes. And what teenage girl and young woman doesn’t like new clothes? We all do.” – Tajuan McCarty, Executive Director the Wellhouse
McCarty says 90% of the girls they’ve rescued have gotten into trouble after chatting with people on well-known websites. Modern day pimps often use creative strategies to avoid being caught.
“You purchase an ad to be placed on one of these adult sites. You purchase, like, a gift card and it’s good for that one advertisement. And you use that and then you throw it away. Where’s the tracing in that?” – Tajuan McCarty, Executive Director the Wellhouse
From an online chat to a vacant home in Birmingham, that’s where someone’s daughter, perhaps someone’s mother, is now selling her body to make ends meet, or to buy more drugs. It’s a vicious cycle the Special Ops want to break desperately.
Special Ops members say they used to go onto the property of one of the motels in the area to talk to women they thought were prostitutes. But then, the manager told them that would have to stop because he says they were getting in the way of his business.
Yet, that doesn’t stop them from making their weekly visits, posting flyers that offer a way out and praying for everyone they meet. While some ignore their message, the Special Ops are always hopeful since there are breakthroughs that are life changing.
The Wellhouse says most young women are forced into prostitution when they’re between 12 and 14-years-old. Of those, 80% have been raped, threatened with a weapon, or physically assaulted. When asked what they need, almost every one of them says they would like to leave prostitution and would like A safe home.
If you know someone who needs a safe haven, we have more information on the Wellhouse HERE.
Copyright 2014 WIAT-CBS42