Church Volunteers Combat Sex Trafficking in Stockton

By Suzanne Phan
Published on April 9, 2014 in Stockton Central News10

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STOCKTON – People in a Stockton community are trying to tackle a growing problem — prostitution, a form of human sex trafficking.

Members of the Lifesong Church of Stockton walked the streets Wednesday evening hoping to help young women escape prostitution. Volunteers searched along Wilson Way, stopped by a number of motels and ended up on Sonora Street.

As part of an effort with International Justice Mission, an international non-profit organization that aims to protect the poor from violence, volunteers put together care packages that included toiletries and other supplies.

“We are giving them to lots of the girls who work the streets tonight and the reason why, a lot of them are being sold for sex,” Lifesong Church Pastor Melanie Romero said. “We have a misconception: they are there because they want to be.”

Romero also said a lot of girls are forced into prostitution.

“We’re trying to make a difference, let them know there’s hope,” volunteer Howard Hawley said.

California is a top destination for traffickers of forced labor or sexual exploitation. When it comes to sex trafficking, Sacramento has been identified by law enforcement officials as one of the worst cities in the U.S.

If you or someone you know needs help, the national hotline number is 1-888-373-7888.